How Important Is Running For Boxing? Everything You Need To Know

Running For Boxing Mayweather

Boxing and running go hand in hand. The first thing that pops into my head when I think about boxers running is Floyd Mayweather putting in his miles while talking trash on a 24/7 show against his latest victim.

Indeed, running has gone hand in hand with boxing since the old days of Ali, Frasier, Leonard and Robinson and even beyond that, boxers run a lot of miles almost everyday and with good reason. It is great for the cardiovascular systems development and building the legs.

Running is a key element of boxing training because because it builds an aerobic foundation for to get in elite shape for boxing, it gives a fighter time to think and visualize their upcoming fights and it provides conditioning for the legs which will help fighters to stay light on their toes and fresher into the later rounds of the fight.

Boxers can put in a steady pace run everyday of 5 miles and upwards and they always follow that with a training session later in the day. In this article we will cover all the reasons why boxers run, how running effects the various cardio systems and other benefits of running for boxers. Finally we will answer some of the top questions around running that we get asked so let’s get started.


Why Running Is So Important For Boxers

Manny Pacquiao Running

Running for boxing is hugely important mainly because of its effects on the cardiovascular system. When a fighter goes on long runs, he is not only increasing his lung capacity, he is conditioning his body and mind also.

Training in the gym is obviously the most useful for fighters but running can increase a fighters long term endurance in the ring. If you want to last 12 rounds of constant action, you better be used to working for long periods of time without taking a break and that is what running will help a fighter with.

Running also engages the legs and develops the muscles, allowing the fighter to stay light on his toes around the ring and running even gives a fighter time to think outside of the gym while keeping his weight in check.

While the reasons and benefits are many, it goes without saying that running is a necessity for boxing and fighting in general and that is something that is not likely to change anytime soon.

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Sprinting vs Jogging For Boxing

Sprinting and Jogging are both crucial for getting a fighter into the best condition possible. While almost all boxers will jog everyday, they may only do sprints 2 – 3 times per week. The reason why both are important is because they work on different aspects of the boxers conditioning that need to worked separately and outside of the gym.

The amount of time a boxer should put in in jogging depends on how long the bout is going to last so if it’s a short 3 round fight, you should be looking at more sprinting and less jogging while still getting 3 or 4 long runs a week for all the other benefits. If you are fighting 12 rounds, you absolutely have to be running 6 miles a day.

This comes down to our cardio systems:


The Aerobic And The Anaerobic Cardio Systems

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Systems

One is responsible for steady state endurance over a long amount of time and that is the Aerobic System. Think about the bar in boxing games that goes down slowly.  The Anaerobic system is designed for explosive bursts over a short period of time. This is the bar that runs down quickly in boxing games but also replenishes quickly.


So what does this mean for boxing?

While, steady state cardio will allow you to recover quickly over a longer time, so you are still fresh in round 10 or 11 while the boxer who hasn’t run is a yard off the pace. The longer you will be fighting for the more aerobic cardio you should do but there is also nothing wrong with being ready for 12 rounds if you are only fighting 3.

Anaerobic conditioning will allow to throw 10 punches in a combo in any round and have the ability to recover quickly. This is why explosive cardio like sprints and rowing and even swimming or spinning class but also strength exercises like lifting weights explosively and skipping are so effective.

Think of it like the old computer games we all played as kids. They always had 2 energy bars. One went down slowly over time while one reacted directly to the output of punches you were throwing. These represent the two cardio systems perfectly.

One exercise will not work one cardio system exclusively, it is more like a scale can that can be manipulated by increasing the intensity of the exercise.

Want to engage the anaerobic system more on your daily jog, increase the pace of the run. Want to engage the aerobic system more on sprint day, increase the length of your sprints.

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What about Hill Sprints for boxing?

Amir Khan Running

Hill Sprints are an excellent tool at a boxers disposable for really adding an extra intensity to the training as the fight gets closer. Hill sprints can be done in sets to ensure your aerobic system is not being tapped into but as the sets wear on and the times slow, the aerobic system will take over.

When I was fighting I would start with 5 Hill Sprints then 2 sets of 5 the following week, right up to 5 sets of 5 coming up to the day of the fight.

What About Interval Training, What is it exactly?

Interval training is when you mix steady state cardio and explosive cardio together. You get your rest during the steady state part and then push as hard as you can again for the anaerobic part.

You can incorporate interval training into all of your regular cardio. Jog for 50 seconds and sprint for ten or include 5 sets of 3 short burst sprints into your long run.

Spinning class is also another great way to achieve this with long steady state ‘hill climbs’ and then sets of down hill sprints.

You can also incorporate this into other exercise like rowing, swimming and pretty any other form of cardio you can think of but this is definitely worth doing.


What Other Non Boxing Cardio Should Boxers Do?

The ones we have listed are perfect but keep in mind that boxing is tough, you need to spend a lot of time in the gym training on every aspect of what you are doing in the ring that finding the time to do all the different forms of cardio you like.

That being said swimming is excellent at building up all the muscles in the body.

Hill walking can really tap into the aerobic system

Rowing is good at building the shoulders and sits nicely between aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

Cycling is good for building the legs.

All types of cardio is good for boxing and what types suit you the best might not necessarily be the ones you like the most but all in all cardio is crucial for boxing.


How Many Miles A Day Should A Boxer Run?

We reckon 5 or 6 miles is a lot for a boxer to be running a day but that is a professional. If you are an amateur fighting only 3 rounds, you should run 5 miles 3 or 4 times a week but focus more on building up your anaerobic system.

If you are fighting 12 rounds then 5 or 6 miles a day is a definite necessity.


Running vs Jumping Rope For Boxing

Jumping rope is another exercise that is synonymous with boxing. Jumping rope has a range of benefits. It works the steady state cardio system and the anaerobic system at the same time and you can easily change the intensity at any time.

It’s no surprise then that the one of the greatest boxers of the modern era Floyd Mayweather is also a master of the skipping rope, not only for cardio it allows you to work on your arm endurance, footwork, hand eye coordination and explosive jumping power.

Jumping rope is the closest cardio simulation you could have for moving around the boxing ring and throwing punches besides shadow boxing. You could easily include a couple of rounds of skipping into your warm to get the benefits and it is also kind of fun to do.

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How Good Is Running On Treadmills For Boxing

Treadmill Running

Running on treadmills provides one key difference to running on the street and that is that you set the speed on the machine and then you have to run that fast.

You can use a fitness watch or phone app to track your progress as you run outdoors but that is not going to hold you accountable to the goals you set out before your run.

If you want to go and a high pace for a long time then a treadmill is the perfect place to do it and if you want to run at a set pace for long period of time, then a treadmill can also be good.

Running on a treadmill can be quite repetitive and I would recommend getting into the outdoors for your running as much as possible. Fill your lungs with fresh air and think about boxing and life.


Is Running Backwards Good For Boxing?

Treadmills are also very handy for running backwards. We would like to always be on the front foot in boxing but we know that isn’t always going to be the case. Running backwards not only really builds the calves but it allows you to practice throwing shots while moving backwards in the ring.

If you are an outside fighter who likes to keep their opponent on the end of long shots then you need to be running backwards to get use to the foot movement you will need to stay out of range as your more aggressive opponent rushes in to  close the distance.

Running backwards is a great way to improve your conditioning and footwork.


Shuttle Runs For Boxing

Shuttle runs are an excellent condition tool for fighters. This involves a set of markers each at equal distance where a boxer will run and touch the first cone before returning to the base cone and he will then sprint to the second and back and so on until he has completed all 5 or 10 in the circuit.

This is excellent for conditioning, movement leg strength and flexibility. You are trying to move as fast as you can then you have to bend down and touch the floor and sprint back to the first cone as quickly as possible. It is working a lot of muscles and pushing the anaerobic system to its limit.

This is an exercise that is often overlooked but it is worth bearing in mind if you want a quality exercise in your training.


Sled Runs For Boxing?

Loading heavy plates onto a sled and pushing it as far as you can is a great way to build power in the legs and develop the anaerobic system for boxing.

Try doing 3 to 5 sets of runs as part of your training for an edge over your opponents.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Why Do Boxers Run Long Distances?

Mayweather 1

Boxers run long distances to develop their aerobic conditioning which will allow them to stay fresh into the later rounds. The longer the fights duration, the more emphasis should be placed on long distance running.


Why Do Boxers Run In Hoodies?

Boxers run in hoodies in hoodies for two reasons. Number 1 is because it can help them to lose weight and number 2, because they might live in a cold climate. I used to run 5ks in a hoodie because it was cold in Dublin. A boxer may wear a lot of layers on their run if they are trying to lose weight.


Why Do Boxers Run So Early In The Morning?

Boxers normally run so early in the morning because they will have to go to the gym and train later in the afternoon or the evening.

Boxers are also hardworking folk and they want to get the job out of the way as early as possible and running in a fasted state is also becoming very popular.

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How Many Miles Does Canelo Run?

Canelo is not the fastest runner in the boxing world, that’s for sure, but he still racks up 4-5 miles when he is in camp preparing for a fight.

He’s cardio has been called into question on occasion and he’s time are pretty poor so we think he may not be running with great intensity during those miles or maybe he is skipping the runs on certain days, who knows.


How many miles Does Floyd Mayweather Run?

Floyd Mayweather is infamously dedicated in running 6 miles a day at a blistering pace when he is getting ready to fight.

Floyd will run in jeans, boots, whatever he has on and 50 Cent told of how he started for the Miguel Cotto fight by running out of a strip club is Las Vegas in his jeans and boots and running all of the 6 miles home. Check out a video of Floyd running here:


What’s The Best Cardio For Boxing?

Running is right up there with the best cardio for boxing. Other quality cardio is boxing pads with a trainer or coach, and sparring is also going to be up there as the best for cardio because at the end of the day you are training for a fight so there is no better way to prepare than by sparring.


Is old school running still cool?

Old school running will always be cool! I think about some the great fighters of the past putting in their  miles with a car behind them to set the pace or Floyd Mayweather’s senior making his son run behind the car on his way to school.

Old school running for boxing is very much the same as the new school although there is more science and supplements involved now than before. The actors have changed but the activity remains the same when it comes to running for boxing.


How many miles should a beginner boxer run?

If you are just starting out in the boxing then congratulations and we wish you well on your journey. How many miles you run is really up to your conditioning level but you may be surprised at how far you can run if you get up and get moving, which is the most important thing afterall!


Running is an absolutely essential element of any fighters game plan and if you want to get in the ring at any level you need to consider running as part of your game plan even if it is just to perform your best at training or if you are sparring.


Whatever your level running is a fun and effective way to improve your health and your cardio. Remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and we hope you picked up a few pointers for your own fight game.


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Aidan Lehane has been involved in the fight game for well over 10 and has trained in some of the leading boxing gyms around the world including Sinbi Muay Thai and MTK Global Marbella. He wants to offer as much advice to beginners and pros as possible.

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