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Running for Conditioning: Back on the Horse… Sort Of

Posted by on Jul 26, 2013 | 3 Comments

My cardiovascular conditioning has been on a steady decline since Grindstone last October. It wouldn’t normally be a concern as I don’t plan on running any races in the near future, but the lack of cardiovascular fitness is beginning to affect jiu jitsu and boxing training. I’m planning on entering a local tournament in October, so it might be a good idea to do some sort of cardio training. If I spar for more than about 10 minutes, I begin to sound like Paula Deen walking up a flight of stairs.

Of course, the cardio training will be centered around running. It’s time-efficient and effective. It can help shed a few more pounds. Best of all, it will give me something to write about. You guys are probably sick of my hyperbole-filled rants that have little or nothing to do with running. I’ll also add a good deal of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and some static weight lifting.

The goal of this training period is threefold. First, I want to increase cardiovascular endurance to increase the length of time I can roll/spar. Second, the training will decrease recovery time between bouts of high and low energy expenditure. Third, I want to increase muscular endurance to be able to keep any given muscle contracted for a longer period of time (important when grappling.)

Most importantly, all of this training has to be a supplement to the sport-specific training, not a primary focus. In other words, I have to avoid overtraining.

So… what will the program look like?

  • Running (4 times/week): The running component will consist of runs between two and four miles at about 80-90% of max heart rate -or- the same distance done using a long Tabata format (sprint 30 seconds, walk 20 seconds, repeat.) It’s basically speedwork. This is a major deviation from my previous “I’m a runner” workouts because of the absence of long runs. Running for eight hours wouldn’t serve a  useful purpose.
  • High Intensity Interval Training (3-4 times/week): The HIIT component will consist of a slew of functional fitness lifts, most coming from Pete Kemme’s site. I’ll use a lot of higher repetition/ lower weight or bodyweight exercises. Most of the exercises will follow Crossfit’s “Fight Gone Bad” format, which is one of my personal favorites. Almost ironically, the FGB criteria was designed for BJ Penn, a notoriously talented but chronically under-conditioned UFC/bjj legend.
  • Static Strength (2-3 times/week): Jiu jitsu, like any other grappling art, requires contracting one set of muscles for long periods of time. This type of contraction isn’t really trained well with running or HIIT, so I’ll add a static component. I haven’t made the final decision yet, but I’m leaning toward yoga poses to meet this goal.

 It’s comforting to have the self-knowledge base to be able to identify a goal and plan a training routine to meet that goal. This is a major advantage of self-experimentation- you get pretty good at identifying exactly what works.

I’ll post occasional updates to track progress, which will be measured by exercise performance and actual sparring/rolling performance.


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  1. Aaron R.
    August 1, 2013

    Hey, Jason: I also do a lot of K-fit and running. Would you be willing to post some of your workouts? I am curious to see what you end up doing. Good luck with the plan.

  2. Sally Hulbert
    July 27, 2013

    Jason try Foundation Training for static training first.

    Yoga would be great after.Foundation Training is awesome

  3. mike
    July 26, 2013

    try pilates instead of yoga. unless you can do Forrest yoga. it builds body strength by holding positions. really kicked my butt first time i did it.