My notion of roadwork came from watching the movie Rocky. There was Sly Stallone huffing and puffing his way through Philly, until finally, the meat hanging in the processing plant conquered, he was able to run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum in triumph. From his old-school converse sneakers to his gray sweats, Rocky was an everyman (everywoman) kind of hero that sought to over come adversity to get back into the ring.
The image of Rocky running up the steps remains iconic and in many ways continues to inform boxing’s notion of roadwork: rising well before dawn to don sweats, boxers the world-over will run 5 – 6 miles through the streets before hitting the gym. A lot of boxing gyms also have running machines and boxers will do their roadwork in the gym adding a component of interval training by alternatively running fast and slow along with changing inclines. In a gym environment, the running will often occur after regular training is completed, though this varies widely, as do the beliefs on the relative benefits of running in the wee hours of the morning on through evening runs.
The bottom-line is that running is used as an important training component to build stamina and conditioning — and knees aside, the idea is to increase muscle efficiency and aerobic fitness to improve performance during the short burst intervals of the ring.
On the Saturday boxing side of training – a brief jog/run can also be a helpful way of loosening up before stretching and commencing training.
Given the state of my knees, hard-on running is kind of beyond me, but having run for distance earlier in my life, I can attest to the physical conditioning that comes with a regular program of running — as well as its merits as a training tool. Still, old school running for boxing is not without controversy as some trainers have switched from straight-on roadwork to other forms of interval training or using the controlled environment of the gym for running in place, running sprints, jump-rope intervals and other forms of conditioning.
For an excellent article on the science of running for boxing on Rossboxing.com click here.