Boxing for Cross-Training???

Boxing – Are We Serious?

boxing

Yes, sort of. Not so much in terms of really giving you a boost to your marathon or ultra marathon PB’s, but more so as a really fun way to participate in another sport without doing anything detrimental to your running program. In addition, boxing can address areas of your fitness that running often cannot, and again, this can be without negatively impacting your running.

Affordability

Similar to what we mentioned in are previous cross-training post about football, boxing is also very affordable, especially when you are already paying for other sports or sports equipment. In this case, all you really need are a decent pair of boxing gloves, which you can find almost anywhere. For a good overview of different types of boxing gloves, and even pink boxing gloves, we find Tomato Can Champ to be a good resource, particularly for beginner boxers.

Cardiovascular Training

Don’t let the professional boxers on TV fool you. Boxing is one of the best workout ever, and can be extremely challenging. Of course, if you are an ultra marathon runner you will have above average stamina, but you will likely still be very surprised about how quickly you become fatigued during a boxing workout. Moreover, running is one of the best supplemental training methods for boxers, so they tie together quite nicely.

Strength Training

One thing that boxing can offer that running sometimes cannot is extremely effective muscle strength training. A typical boxing workout will involve a multitude of workouts that end up targeting every functional muscle group. This, coupled with the high intensity cardiovascular workout, allows the participant to cut weight while still building muscle.

Furthermore, many long distance runners are hesitant to participate in muscle strengthening program over the fear of losing flexibility, gaining weight, and distracting themselves from their normal training. However, with boxing, the majority of resistance training is done under your own body weight, and especially as a recreational boxer, you don’t have to touch a weight if you don’t want to.

Boxing is really good in this sense. Since they operate on a weight class system, they always try to keep weight down while attempting to improve strength. This means they focus way more on technique and cardiovascular training, rather than simply putting on weight to increase absolute strength.

A Fun Challenge

In our opinion, boxing offers a fun challenge that is unfamiliar to many individuals. Although it’s tough, you’ll learn about a new sport and new training techniques, and you’ll be able to push yourself in slightly different ways than usual. One thing many people struggle with when starting out boxing is mental toughness and just getting through that workout. As an ultra distance runner, you already know what it takes to grind it out and complete an incredibly difficult task, so you may already have a leg up!

Safety

Boxing is often thought of as a dangerous sport. This may the case if you are fighting people who do it for a living, but as a recreational boxer who is there purely for training purposes, the sport is as safe as any other. Even if you do advance your skills to the point where you are int he ring sparring, this is always in an extremely controlled environment where the goal is to work together and learn techniques, rather than try to attack the opponent with the goal of knocking them out.

Overall

At the end of the day, boxing represents a unique supplement to your running program. It may not be for everyone, but it is something we recommend trying out if you are seriously interested. There;s boxing clubs in most cities and towns, and often times they are more than happy for you to drop by and check out the scene.

 

 

 

Cross-Training for Long Distance Runners – Football

Cross-Training – Football

football

Depending on your preferences, cross-training can be an extremely important part of your training regime. Not everyone who has the drive and motivation to be a long distance runner enjoy it the same amount. For those who want to mix things up, a related form of training may be the answer.

Football (or soccer for the Westerners) is a perfect example. There are huge differences from running. More hand-eye coordination is involved, well, I guess foot-eye coordination. Additionally, it’s a team sport, so if you are not running with others very often, this could be an excellent way to add a social aspect into your training! And from a general sense, it’s a fun sport that anyone who can run can play, and it’s different enough that the variety alone may make it worth it.

What About Injuries?

Like any sport, including ultra distance running, there is an inherent risk of injury involved. Some sports are riskier than others, and we would classify football as a relatively low risk sport. However, that being said, many injuries that keep you off the pitch will also keep you off the track or trail.

One of the more common injuries in recreational football is a sprained ankle or a bruised foot. These aren’t great injuries to have when you’re training for long distance running, but that being said, there aren’t many injuries that are fun to have.

All in all, it’s easy to be worried about injuries or distracting yourself from more “meaningful” training, but keep in mind that it’s totally possible to end up with the above listed injuries from daily living as well. For example, a sprained ankle can happen walking home from work, or you can also end up with a bruised or broken foot simply by dropping something on it. So in our opinion, the risk of injury isn’t high enough to prevent participation in football. However at the end of the day, that’s up to you, as you know your body and comfort level best.

Benefits to Long Distance Running?

There are additional benefits to your ultra marathon training that football can provide. The most obvious is that you’re running around for 90 minutes, so your total running distance is quite impressive for a sport that doesn’t focus only on that.

Secondly, enhanced neuromuscular coordination, especially in the lower limbs, may actually help you prevent injuries on the trail or assist when you are beginning to experience fatigue. For example, with the constant cutting and changing directions, as well as odd impact forces, involved in football, you can actually improve strength to your legs, primarily the muscles you don’t target as heavily during straight forward running. So let’s say you’re running on a trail. You’re near the end of the run and you step on a tree root. Where you may have rolled your ankle before and sprained a ligament, after supplementing your training with soccer, it’s entirely possible that you have developed the strength in smaller muscles that will allow you to resist the ankle roll, thereby preventing injury. Keep in mind this is just what makes sense to us though, and what we feel has helped us and other runner we know.

Overall, although our blog focuses primarily on long distance running, we acknowledge that participation in other sports can improve your training and overall quality of life, and football is one of the sports we personally recommend.

 

Tips for Beginner Long Distance Runners

Long Distance Running

gump_running

Whether you’re an experienced athlete, or an experienced couch potato, even thinking about training to become proficient at long distance running is a step towards the final goal. However, this is followed by arguably the most difficult step, which is getting started with a training regime that fits with your schedule, is something you enjoy, and is effective.

One of the first things beginner long distance runners should keep in mind is that the benefits towards performance don’t come quickly, but rest assured, every single run will count. We say this because some people will make the mistake of jumping into an intense training regime, only to become burnt out after a short period of time, which can definitely increase the risk of “falling off the wagon”.

Training Schedule

In our opinion, the first thing any prospective long distance runner should do is identify when and where they have room in their schedule to run. Basically, what you want to be able to do is work around any potential scheduling conflicts that could negatively impact your running. Of course, people need to work, but if you find that you can only run during the evening but don’t like running outside at night, then maybe it’s best to plan ahead and find an indoor setting with treadmills. One piece of advice we find especially helpful is planning a “reserve” chunk of time, where if something unexpected pops up in your schedule and you can’t get out for a regular run, then you have a backup time to make up for that missed training.

Additionally, it’s also great to eliminate any possible but-I-don’t-have-time excuses before they arise. This is the most common excuse for not working out, and is often times the most incorrect excuse. We do recognize that long distance running does require some time, but even a little bit is better than none at all.

Volume

One common mistake among new long distance runners is picking a relatively fast running pace and sticking with that pace until exhaustion. Then on subsequent runs continuing at that pace and trying to increase the time you can maintain that pace for. This may work for some, but we highly recommend maximizing volume over pace.

So what do we mean by volume? Well, basically we mean duration. For long distance running, and especially ultra long distance running, it is often better to start by running for longer periods of time at a very low intensity. Even if it doesn’t feel like a workout after 10-15 minutes, just be patient and you will gradually feel the fatigue setting in. This way, you are training your body to operate at a lower heart rate (relatively speaking) for a longer period of time, which is directly beneficial for this sport.

Then, once you feel like you are running distances that are enough for training or have reached your distance goal, you can gradually start increasing the pace and working on personal best times rather than distances.

Final Note

Overall, when starting out with long distance running, make sure everything is gradual. Given the amount of steps you will be taking throughout this fitness journey, avoiding injuries is crucial, especially early on in your experience, as it can be quite frustrating.

Otherwise, just remember, slow pace until you can maintain that slow pace for your desired distance, and then only after that start increasing the pace. We do recognize this isn’t everyone’s preferred way to train, but for us we find this to be the best.