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Running Workouts for Martial Arts Practitioners

Running Workouts for Martial Arts StudentsLast week, I wrote a blog post about the benefits of running for martial artists. This week, I wanted to go a little more into detail about what types of running might best serve the needs of a martial arts practitioner. Interval running is probably the best option for people who do martial arts, blending the aerobic cardio training of lighter running/jogging and the anaerobic cardio training of fast running/sprinting. Aerobic cardio gives you the kind of cardio you need to keep going over longer periods, such as belt tests. It’s also the type of cardio that burns fat. Anaerobic cardio, on the other hand, helps you use higher levels of energy in shorter bursts, like you would use when sparring or grappling, especially when doing so competitively when nervous tension tends to cause you to burn even more energy. To do interval running, you alternate between lower intensity running/jogging and sprints. The length of the intervals depends on what you’re training for.

Here are a couple of examples of how a martial artist might approach their interval running:

Running Workouts for Martial Arts Competition: If you’re training for the competitive arena, you should probably match your overall running time to the length of your matches. For example, if you will be doing three 5-min rounds then you might want to try a running program similar to this: Over a 5 minute round, alternate between 1 minute of low intensity running/jogging and 30 seconds of sprinting. Do 3 rounds with a 1 minute walking rest between each round. Depending on how aggressively you’re training and how close to your competition date you are, you could do this more or less often, but I would strive for at least 3-4 times per week, taking into account the activity of my martial arts training days.

Running Workouts for Belt Tests: When it comes to running training for a belt test in the martial arts, it kind of depends on the style you study, as well as the length of the test to determine how long your running workouts should be. I would say that depending on your fitness level, 30-60 min runs, doing a 1-minute hard run/sprint every 5-10 minutes (depending on your fitness level). I would do this workout 3-4x per week depending on one’s fitness level and the length/intensity of the runs.

Running for Beginners

If you’re just starting out as a runner or it’s been a while since you’ve been on a regular running regimen, I’ve been told by my student who’s a doctor (Jenny) that it’s a good idea to start off slow and do walk-runs to give your body a chance to build strength so it handles the impact on the body better. No one wants sore knees, ankles or back after all. She told me that for a 30-min run, you start out the first week by doing 4.5 min of walking followed by 30 seconds of running. Lather, rinse, repeat until 30 minutes is done. Then the second week you decrease the walking to 4 minutes and increase the running to 1 minute. Then you continue to decrease the walking intervals by 30 seconds and increase the running intervals until you’re running the full 30 minutes. After that, you can start to add sprinting intervals in much the same way until you’re at the target interval times.

I’d like to remind everyone reading this that I’m not a doctor and the above ideas are based on my own experiences and advice I’ve received from various doctors. You should always consult your family physician before starting any new exercise regimen.

Are you a martial arts student who uses running as part of your fitness regimen? If so, what are your running workouts like? Please share in the comments. 🙂

Comments (6)

6 thoughts on “Running Workouts for Martial Arts Practitioners

  1. I’m a 47 yo student of Goju-Shorei with only a year’s experience. I run for fun- always have. It just feels good. This winter I became frustrated with how I quickly I get worn out during 2 minute sparring matches even though I can run for more than an hour without getting winded. That’s when I realized that my long slow runs- though good for overall health and peace of mind are not enough for cross training purposes. I also think the long slow runs have unintentionally “trained” my feet and legs to be slow. My kicks certainly are slow.

    I’ve started doing interval runs or tabata runs and more stride work- plus I’ve started doing my “speed work” barefoot since that’s how I am during sparring. I’m consciously trying to bring my stride to 180 strides per minute and shorten all my times- I never even thought about running times before.

    It’s frustrating though because all the running training books have training programs for prepping for races. I want to prep for sparring matches and testings not races… and I don’t really know what I’m doing.

    1. Making the switch to interval running is a good call. You should find it makes a big difference for your sparring cardio. Good luck! 🙂

  2. I am from India, age 31, due to bad health condition i joined Tkd, it had been 6 months now, the teachers emphasis is on sprinting, but as I stated with walk run method for a month, ie run 1 min walk 2 mins then run 2 mins walk on min and so on two days per week, we have a 2 days Tkd class , not I have incorporated sprinting, 15 mins of walkrun, then 4 laps of running between lampposts for 2 rounds. Then I walk slowly cool down and go home

  3. I am 32 now started taekwondo 10 months back, the teacher said that long slow distance running is of no help in Tkd. One has to do sprinting. Due to some health problem I had joined Tkd. I start running with one minute running one min walking for 30 mins and walking the very next day for 30 mins, now I can run for 5 mins and walk 1 min, and now I have added shuttle cock sprinting in my dojang which is around 15 meters and do it on alternate days for 5 mins with slow running for 5 mins, then all the usual kick practice drills. I have by grace of God on a good recovery path form my stomach ailment called IBS.

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