Running training for fighters and combat athletes

Running training for fighters is good base fitness, it improves motivation, mood, and has physiological benefits for combat sports. Running can be your off-season fitness, coronavirus lockdown exercise, or for use in fight camp. But what runs, times and distances should you be doing to benefit your fighting?

Types of fighter fitness runs.

Long slow runs. Start with 20 minutes mix of walking and jogging. Build up to 40-60 minutes. No speed, think volume. You are developing your ability to get out of oxygen debt and clear lactic acid while you move, great for recovery on fight day.

Sprints. Get used to the form first with 10 second sprints. Progress to 20-30 seconds. Use a hill or slope if possible. Sprinting builds your cellular ATP energy storage for quick explosive movement.

Hard runs. 10-20 minutes at 80%+ heart rate. Extended period high heart rate simulates fight conditions and builds heart and lung strength. This gets you match fit.

Tempo: eg 10 minutes jog, 20 minutes hard, 10 minutes jog.

5k is a great fighter distance if, like me, you fight for 3×2 minute rounds, which is 6 minutes of work, 8 minutes with rest, or 10-12 minutes overall. 2 fights back-to-back is therefore 20-25 minutes which is also a good 5k time. It feels like the sort of hard work that fighting is. Plus it is easy to find a Parkrun near you or a Couch to 5k programme.

Recovery runs. 15-40 minutes slow, relaxed, no speed at all, on tired legs. Learn to deal with fatigue while moving. This is good fighter training with your other workouts.

Closer to a fight, try Fartlek (speed play), Tabata (20s/10s sprint/rest), and invent your own intervals.

Maybe do 3 runs per week (Jog, Run, Sprint) or go only once per week and rotate through them. Or add to other workouts – eg sprints after sparring, or hard runs with weight workouts.


  • Check with a doctor before starting any physical fitness routine.
  • Warm-up thoroughly. Use walking and joint preparation.
  • Work on your form. Land underneath you, midfoot, push back.
  • Experiment with massage, foam rollers, and hot and cold treatment for recovery.
  • No excuses! Except when you are injured or it is unsafe to go out.


Try our Sofa to Savate fitness test which has a running component.

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