Is Jogging TRULY Essential, or Just Over Hyped?

To Run, Or Not To Run?

Muay Thai and combat sports are known for their three to five minute rounds of fighting, with one minute’s worth of rest in between each round.

During these rounds several things can happen to you. One major thing: fatigue, obviously. A few more things: your body can give out, your mind can be ravaged from the pressure or fear. And you can even die.

So how can you prevent these dreadful things from happening in the ring?

DJ miller muay thai fighterThe answer is simple, commitment to your training. The best form of training for a fight is to try and simulate the fight the best way you can, in my opinion. What I mean by that is maybe you can do pad work in the ring for whatever the time frame your fight is based on (2 minutes or 3 minute rounds) and rest in the corner in between rounds and maybe have a teammate give you water and coach you a bit.

That form of fight camp training is the most traditional. Other forms of training: dieting, of course. Weight training, meal preparation, plyometrics and some would even consider meditating an asset to their training.

Then, there is something EVERYBODY does…. and that’s jogging. It is a Thai tradition to jog up to 5

times a week in addition to your everyday training, and we have been mimicking that for years.

Why does everyone jog? It’s said that jogging helps your cardio, it increases your leg stamina and endurance and it also trains you mentally. They say, ‘You don’t run, you don’t fight.’ At some point you have to stop and ask yourself:

Fighters at Lamai training camp in Thailand putting in the road work.

Does this really help?

Is this really making a difference?

Are you jogging because the Thais do it?

Are you jogging because it’s what everyone else does?

Do you honestly feel a step-up in your leg durability, or your cardio from jogging 5 miles per day?

We are all built differently. Some of us don’t come from generations worth of Muay Thai genetics to where our body needs to run to maintain. I’ve been training and fighting since 2008. There was a point where I joined this trend of jogging for training. The outcome? Shin splints, sore ankles, aching back and the worst part—boredom!

I hate running. I stopped jogging long ago and replaced it with swimming instead. When you are jogging, what exactly are you simulating in a real fighting? You’re moving at a turtle pace for a certain distance. If you’re not moving at a turtle pace then you’re going at a pace that’s comfortable for you so you can complete your route and then post about it on Facebook.

How does that get you fight ready, honestly? I can tell you after 35 Muay Thai fights I’ve gone up against some tough cookies. One of the best I’ve faced is Adam Edgerton of Real Fighter’s gym who is a master low kicker. Me and Adam fought three times and every fight he kicked the living shit out of my legs.

djfeatureI’ve long retired running from my training before fighting Adam, and, yes, his leg kicks hurt. But did they stop me? No. My legs were conditioned to withstand them and to fight back. Running did not harden my legs up. Getting kicked over and over and over again in the gym is what did the trick, plain and simple. Throwing kicks on the bags and pads over and over and over is what the recipe for hard legs is.

My only road work consists of short distances of sprint bursts but never did I jog 5 miles to supplement my cardio. I didn’t believe in it, and I still don’t to this day. I am a newly turned professional but my amateur career has highlights for days. I’ve won just about every championship from every sanctioning body you can think of. I’ve won all the top national tournaments, some numerous times. And I don’t jog at all.

You don’t run, you don’t fight? Well, I DONT RUN and I STILL FIGHT. I’m an example of why jogging is just overhyped and an illusion of cardio enhancement.

But, I’m not the only example. Former Glory Welterweight World Champion and Canadian kickboxing sensation Joseph “Bazooka Joe” Valtellini who fought on Friday Night Fights and Lion Fight chimed in about his training on one of Sean Fagan’s podcast interviews.

bazooka joseph valtellini glory world champIn the interview Joe discusses his training. While maintaining a full-time job he trains through the week and runs a two-a-day on Saturdays. His training consists of strength and conditioning that is scientifically calculated for his body. He mentions a big part of his training is incorporating his strength and conditioning with his technical training in Muay Thai. And with Bazooka Joe also having a background in Physical Education, I’m pretty sure he knows what he’s talking about and what he’s doing.

Joe Valtellini hit the big ranks fast in his career and has beaten some top fighters including Raymond Daniels and Marat Grigorian while collecting a GLORY world title. Not one time does Joseph mention jogging or how critical it is for fighter’s training. He speaks on dieting, his strength training and kickboxing training. He also stated in the interview that he trains the same way whether he’s fighting a less experienced or a more experienced fighter, same way all the time.

So, as I said before, we are all built different. If running works for you, great. If it doesn’t, still great. If you are new to Muay Thai and have aspirations of competition, don’t be afraid to jog and also don’t be afraid to reject it. Do not let anyone tell you that it is an absolute necessity because with successful fighters like Joe Valtellini who has strived without it, it is proven that it is not.

Are there any other non-runners like me and Joe out there? Punch in a comment and discuss if you agree or disagree!


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DJ Miller
DJ Miller is a naky muay from Nashville, TN. He began his Muay Thai training in 2008 and accumulated more than 30 amateur fights before turning pro. "Martial arts is in my blood," says Miller. "My father is a third degree black belt in Taekwondo.., I love the experiences that Muay Thai has given me and I love sharing my thoughts what's going on in the Muay Thai world with everyone."

Comments 8

  1. Great article! I want one point of clarification. Are you still doing Low Intensity Steady State (LISS), such as swimming or elliptical, to supplement your training? Or are you saying LISS is not necessary for conditioning?

  2. I personally think running is great cardio and can be utilized as a pre-training meditation ritual. I usually put headphones in zone out, and focus on my breathing when going for a run, and that puts me in the perfect mood to train afterwards.

  3. Great article- I had to give up the long, traditional runs due to repeated foot injuries- replaced them with hill repeats, sled work, battling ropes, and kettlebell interval training ( 10-20 swings followed by a short 50 meter sprint, repeated 5x)
    As a Coach, many athletes will get more than enough conditioning with sparring. Again, everyone is different-if it’s not helping you get better in the sport, find another way

  4. I am a wtf tkd practioner, started a year back at late age of 32 and love to join muai thai as soon as I am in shape, my teacher says jogging is good enough to warm up you body but you have to sprint, I usually do shuttle cock sprints.

  5. I like running for the long distance endurance, meditation and outdoors-ness of it – I don’t listen to music as I like to allow my senses to fully engage; sight, sound, smell etc. I actually enjoy running so it’s not an issue but I find so many people hate it, so they avoid it if they can! Then again, I participate in half-marathons too so I have an extra incentive. I also like to vary my running terrain including off road so it’s not boring.

  6. It would be pretty hilarious if a fight was proceeded by a 10k run, 15 minutes of skipping, and the referee made the fighters drop and do “10 PUSH UP!!! 10 SIT UP!!!” at the end of every round. A Muay Thai triathlon.

  7. The only thing jogging really has in common with Muay Thai is heavy breathing, so they both work your diaphragm. It’s good for an early morning warm up, but 10k seems like way too much. I messed up my knees and back training in Thailand a couple years ago, and I’m 99% sure it was the running. Since then, I’ve started barefoot running. I’m much lighter on my feet now, and I haven’t had any pain since I started. Shoes can be used for barefoot style running, but it takes more concentration to make sure you use your calves and achilles muscles as shock absorbers, and land on the balls of your feet. “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall is a good introduction to barefoot running. That said, I don’t think low intensity jogging can be beneficial to a high intensity combat sport. If you’re going to run though, you may as well run with less chance of injury.

  8. I have a 17 yr old son who loves kickboxing he runs Monday to Friday at least 5 clicks then trains 4hrs on weights and pad work he says the running helps him alot on spurring days so i guess it’s a preference

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