Roadwork is an important part of any fight sports strength and conditioning program. Generations of boxers & MMA athletes have pounded the pavement, the process of lacing up your shoes & smelling the morning air is almost ingrained in our DNA. Roadwork is a time to build fight endurance, manage your weight and also a time to think and relieve built up stress.
What has changed over time is our intelligence and access to information, specifically in this case – understanding our bodies better. This helped us get smarter about our roadwork program, maximize our time & reduce the chance of injuries. The goal with this guide is to help you add specificity & purpose to every run, and thus improve your performance come fight time.
The Intensity Scale:
The best roadwork program includes a varied mix of intensity. Throw the age old “no pain, no gain” mentality in the trash. There’s a time for pain, but if your entire training program is based on pain you will reach a plateau quick, often with injuries. On the flip side, if you’re always running easy you may not improve. A careful balance of intensity is key.
So how do you gauge intensity? You can do this two ways. A heart rate monitor or “perceived exertion, RPE”. Heart rate values in the chart below will be measured as a percentage of your personal maximum heart rate – this makes the guide very personal & individual. If you are utilizing a heart rate monitor find your personal maximum heart rate(MHR). A basic formula that you can use is 220-age. Perceived Exertion (RPE) is essentially how the intensity makes you feel.
|BENEFIT||HEART RATE % of Maximum||HOW DOES IT FEEL? RPE|
|Active Recovery, Warm Up||
|· Easy to breathe
· Can hold a conversation easily
· Feels like you can sustain for hours
|Basic Endurance, Fat Burn||
|· Easy to breathe
· Comfortable steady jog
· Can hold a conversation
· Light muscle load
|· Slightly more difficult to breathe but can sustain pace
· Conversations more difficult
· Moderate sweating
|4||Increases Max Performance Capacity||80-90%||
· Heavy breathing
· Muscle fatigue
· Cannot hold conversation
|5||Performance & Speed Work||90-100%||
· Very exhausting
· Hard to breathe
· Cannot sustain for long
One of the most important aspects of beginning a new running program is building a solid base. A good base builds up your endurance and your bodies ability to work harder. If you’ve already been running for more than 3 months you set this at 2 weeks. If this is your first time incorporating road work into your plan it’s important to complete this phase, possibly more depending on your fitness level.
|Phase Duration||4 Weeks (new runner)2 Weeks (3+ months of consistent running)|
|Frequency||3-4x Per Week|
|Base Workout “Basic”||Workout:·
Once you’ve completed the base building phase, you can start incorporating harder “fight like” efforts into your plan along with longer duration endurance building workouts. In this section we’ll give you 3 “Staple” workouts. You should hit all 3 workouts during the week; you can add additional mileage with the “Basic” workout.
|Workout 1:“Persistence”||This workout is designed to learn to push a tempo intensity.
Total Duration: 40 minutes
|Workout 2:“Evolve”||This workout is designed to increase your endurance and teach your body to react and recover.
Total Duration: 56 minutes
Once a month add one interval to this workout to increase the duration
|Workout 3: “Greatness”||Hit your local running track for this one! Purpose: Build speed and increase your ability to sustain sprints & hard efforts. This also mimics the stress and recovery times in fights.
Total duration: 28 minutes
Scheduling & Building Volume
Making sure roadwork is scheduled with adequate recovery is an important part of the program. Also factor in your fight specific training into the overall plan to find the perfect balance of training and recovery. Here are some general rules to follow:
- Stagger the 3 staple runs. Example: Monday: Persistence, Wednesday: Greatness, Saturday: Evolve
- Complete “Greatness” on fresh legs. So no heavy workouts the day before.
- Balance your fight sport specificity. Example: Since Greatness will have a high training load, it’s not best to do a hard leg heavy day the following day. So no hard wrestling workouts on Sunday if you ran hard on Saturday!
- “Basic” will have a low training load if the run is under an hour, but you can also add more work periods for a longer workout. Just keep in mind cumulative fatigue will kick in. Basic is your go to run for ANY run outside your Staple Runs.
- As you progress it’s important to add work, but do it smart. You can bump up your Greatness set by one interval as you get more fit.
- Throw in a recovery week every 4 weeks, where you back off on the volume by 20% for the week.
- Be sure to taper for your event/fight. We find a 2 week taper works great. During taper you’ll remove Greatness from your schedule, and start reducing total volume by 50% to make sure you’re on fresh legs for the fight!