The majority of boxers use running to improve cardiovascular endurance. In boxing, they refer to it as "roadwork." Former heavyweight champion "Smokin'" Joe Frazier says roadwork is the most crucial training boxers do, the foundation that helps them get through 12 rounds of action. Most boxers run early in the morning, leaving the afternoon and even open for training sessions in the gym.
Professional boxing trainer and cut man Miyagi “Mack” Kurihara advises his fighters to run three to five times a week. He says a disciplined roadwork routine equates to better results in the gym. The amount of time you spend running depends on your goals. For example, about two months before an upcoming fight, increase your distance. Some fighters add one to two miles every other day to their pre-fight training.
To build endurance, you need to engage in prolonged cardiovascular activity. A fight is not a sprint; it's more like a short marathon. Jog to get your heart rate up for an extended period of time. Concentrate on the distance of your run and not on the speed, Frazier says. Incorporate about two to three days of long runs into your routine.
This type of running involves bursts of high intensity sprints, followed by short periods of jogging. Sprinting simulates the time of the round where the boxer throws a series of rapid punches. The natural rhythm of most fights includes moments of explosive action, followed by periods of inactivity. According to Ringside boxing trainer John Brown, an effective sprinting program should incorporate jogging, followed by one- to two-minute sprint intervals. Many boxers incorporate sprints at least twice a week.
The boxing training manual of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point says if only one exercise were allowed in a boxer’s program, running would be the indisputable choice. Running increases lung capacity, leg strength and endurance, three important ingredients that help get you into fighting shape. There is no substitute for frequent running, Kurihara says. Even the best fighters can be outclassed if they run out of steam during the fight.
To prevent injury, warm up before running and cool down after. According to Mayoclinic.com, warming up will help prepare your body for exercise and cooling down may decrease muscle soreness afterward. To warm up, stretch and walk or jog for about 10 minutes. To cool down, walk or jog for five to 10 minutes after you run.
Although boxers typically run three to five times a week, if you're new to running, start slowly. Starting a running program too quickly can cause overuse injuries. Invest in some high-quality running shoes, which are well worth the investment and help keep you comfortable and injury-free.
- "Box Like the Pros"; Joe Frazier and William Detloff; 2005
- Miyagi "Mack" Kurihara; Professional Boxing Trainer; California
- U.S. Military Academy: Intramural Boxing AY 01-02