The more you learn about running, the more you realise it’s a whole body sport. Which is why ‘cross-training’ as a concept has come to the fore in the last few years. If you want to run faster, stronger, further - then you need to take a more holistic approach to your training.
So we thought: why not take this one step further and investigate other sports? It’s easy to get bored of the gym or doing classes for the sake of it – so what if you could discover a new hobby that was not only fun in itself but which also complemented your first love – running – and actually made you better at it?
That’s the purpose of this new series. In the coming months we’ll be trying cycling, yoga, pilates, swimming and a few others but first up it’s BOXING.
Because boxers are some of the fittest athletes on the planet that’s why. They have to be. To avoid getting the stuffing beaten out of them they need power, strength, speed, balance and endurance among many other things. All of which you need to be a good runner.
With that in mind I approached Cathy Brown at The Third Space Gym in Soho, London. A former bantamweight boxer who led the vanguard of women’s boxing in this country, Cathy was British and European Champion and was ranked world number 3. You can see footage of one of her fights here. Frankly, as soon as I meet her I shrivel like a salted snail beneath her direct stare, but as soon as I ask her how boxing can be of benefit to me she’s, er, off and running:
‘As soon as anyone mentions boxing, people visualise black eyes, broken bones, brain damage, and slurred speech but you need to look outside the box.,’ she says. ‘Boxing training isn’t about taking a beating and if you get the right coach, this type of training will not only get you physically stronger, it will get you mentally stronger. Boxing teaches you to be more mentally resilient, which as you know as runners you need, especially when you hit walls over long distances, having that extra ‘dig deep’ training through exposure will get you through anything!
‘The beauty of boxing is that it trains and conditions multiple energy systems: short burst power and strength to get you up that hill or finish strong, and endurance to last with power through a long session with the ingrained ability to recover whilst on the move. Incorporating a boxing strength and conditioning programme will increase strength throughout the whole of your body, so that you have more power and hence a stronger stride.