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Should Explosive Athletes Do Long Distance Running?

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People really love to debate where explosive sport athletes should perform long-distance running. As with anything else, I rarely think there is one way to do things. Rather, somewhere in the middle is almost always best.

Here’s why we work on aerobic capacity and steady-state conditioning with our athletes at Champion.

To view more episodes, subscribe, and ask your questions, go to mikereinold.com/askmikereinold.

#AskMikeReinold Episode 263: Should Explosive Athletes Do Long Distance Running?

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Show Notes


Transcript

Mike Reinold:
Welcome back, everybody. The latest episode of the Ask Mike Reinold Show. We’re here this week, answering another great question from you, our listeners, our watchers, anybody that checks out our podcast. Submit your questions so we can answer them. Ask away. Head to mikereinold.com, click on that podcast link and fill out the form. that’s how this keeps going. Right? We’re here for you. We’re here to answer your questions. We’re not just making up these questions ourselves. So keep asking away. There’s always some good ones, you know, I’m sure today’s going to be another great episode. So keep them coming. Thank you very much. I’m joined by the crew here, champion PT and Performance. We’ve got Dan Pope, Lenny Macrina, Dave Tilley, Mike Scaduto, Lisa Russell, Diwesh Poudyal. All here answering your questions. Len, what do we got here? Repeat questions now, which it’s really good to see.

Lenny Macrina:
A few weeks ago, this was the formation about three, four weeks ago. And now this is we’re back. Usually in these episodes, they wear their school colors and shirts. I can’t tell if they have it, yeah, there we go Kentucky. So batting lead off, we’ll have Fish, Ben Fisher, who played baseball at some Division 1 school and then got drafted. Right? I think that’s a little known fact that you were drafted. Ben played minor league baseball. Zach Leal had a cup of coffee at Clemson baseball and we have Fonzy. Hey. Alfonzo, from Clarkson University.

Mike Reinold:
I was on mute. Sorry. Hey, that’s too late. Dang it, man. Ah, we’ll get there. We’ll get there. What do we got? What do we got Ben?

Ben:
Okay. So Natalie from Florida asks, there seems to be a lot of debate about explosive athletes like baseball pitchers performing steady state conditioning and low intensity running. Is there a benefit to this in athletes or should they just stick to sprints?

Mike Reinold:
Even the phrasing of the question, why does everything have to be a debate, right? Is debate negative tone, right? I mean, anyway. Yeah, no, I mean, I think this is a popular topic right now about athletes, especially ones that aren’t doing steady state long distance for their sport, right? To do this, do we train that way, right? And I’ll just start the episode off with pure nonsense as usual and share I think kind of a funny thing, but like at one point in time, we had t-shirts made with the Red Sox, when I was with the Red Sox that said, I don’t run the ball to the plate. Right? And for the pitchers, the pitchers always make up funny t-shirts, right? But you know, that was one of their big phrases, right, is that they don’t run the ball to the plate. Why am I doing running? Right?

Mike Reinold:
That’s it. So obviously that’s shortsighted, which we’ll get into, but I think that’s a lot of what goes into this a little bit here too. And I like what you put in there, Natalie, about the explosive aspect of the athlete, right? Does long distance running, like decrease explosion capabilities and stuff like that. I think that’s pretty cool. So I don’t know. Who wants to start this? You want to start this Dewey or yeah. Why don’t you start off Dewey and I don’t know, obviously I want to hear your thoughts, but I also want to hear what you recommend for our athletes here at Champion.

Diwesh Poudyal:
Yeah. So I think there’s been this stigma about long distance running or cardio in general really for the explosive athlete, right? That people are saying like, oh, all you got to do is explosive work or all you got to do is sprints. Well, I think we’ve got to take a big step back. Right? What are the big benefits that we get from aerobic training in general or big capacity training and long distance running is just a means to an end, right? It’s just a way to perform cardiac output work. So I think that’s kind of where we got to start. So I think it’s not an absolute crime to have someone do a little bit of running, do a little bit of cardiac output work, but it’s got to be done at the right time. Right? So if we’re, let’s say prepping someone for a baseball season, right?

Diwesh Poudyal:
And we’re in like a laid off season phase, they’re approaching tryouts, pre-season, whatever it may be. And if we’re still just primarily hammering in aerobic work, that means we’re probably missing the boat a little bit. Right? But if early on in the off season, if we want to do a little bit of cardiac output work, because we know that having a good aerobic base improves overall recovery, it’s pretty good way to build a little bit of tolerance too in the tissues from like a tendon standpoint and a muscular standpoint.

Diwesh Poudyal:
So we know that there’s good benefits to it. We just got to make sure that we’re doing it in the right timeframe from periodization standpoint. And then obviously it’s a little bit more of like the, what’s the primary focus, right? If my primary way to train the explosive baseball player is just long distance running, then we’re missing the boat. If we’re doing a little bit of long distance running, a bit of cardiac output work and then doing a lot of explosive power work, a lot of like heavy lifting and all those kind of come in conjunction together.

Diwesh Poudyal:
Then we’re probably making a really good overall athlete. Right? And this is something that I’ve been kind of saying to a lot of parents recently too, because the parents ask these questions quite a bit also. And so I think we got to start with the athlete first in general, right? Or we can even take a step back and say, we got to start with the human first. We know that a human being is meant to run and be aerobically conditioned to some capacity. Right?

Diwesh Poudyal:
We have that as like our base layer of potentially moving on to being a good athlete. Once we have that human layer, right? That need to be able to run and be able to do aerobic work, then we started going into the athlete in general, right? At that point it’s can this athlete run, sprint, jump, cut, throw, all the things that make a general athlete. After that, we started getting into a little bit more of like the specific athlete and maybe that specific position within that sport. So like a baseball pitcher that has to throw baseball 60 to a hundred times a game, that’s a very specific demand. How do we prep those specific qualities for the pitcher is a different discussion than how do we prep a human to potentially be a better pitcher. So that’s kind of how I look at it. Right? I kind of run through that entire spectrum, what are the missing pieces that could potentially help this baseball player be a better baseball player?

Mike Reinold:
And I like what you said there. I think it’s really short-sighted to think like we’re talking about long distance running instead of explosive training or sprint work. That’s why these debates I think are silly, that’s why I hate these debates is like, is anybody not doing explosive power work and just doing long distance running? Well, yeah, of course that’s suboptimal. That doesn’t make any sense. But I think there was a big thing with these explosive athletes, is that like, if you train slow, you’ll play slow. Right? And there may be something to that, if that is your only type of training, but man, I don’t think anyone really, really took it that way. Right? You brought up a lot of good points, Dewey, even like tendon health, I thought that was a great point, right?

Mike Reinold:
Like tendon joint health with just of that low impact kind of training for long durations of time. But really, man, it’s about being a good athlete, right? It’s about increasing the athletic capacity. And that is a component of athleticism. Right? So I’m looking at the MLB first round draft that happened about a month ago, maybe six weeks ago now. And I’m looking at it, there’s six high school shortstops that were drafted in the first round, which is large. Right? And they’re the best athletes. I guarantee you, they all have great long distance running ability and stuff like that. Right? Because they’re the better athletes on their team probably. And you start to kind of see that a little bit. So I think that’s pretty interesting. Now we’re dealing with a lot of explosive sports. Lisa, do you have any insights from your world, which is a little bit more about endurance and how can you help us with this debate?

Lisa Russell:
Yes. First, I have a question. What is long distance running for a baseball fan?

Mike Reinold:
I mean, solid point.

Diwesh Poudyal:
90 feet.

Mike Reinold:
Yeah, I know, right? I mean, I guess it’s more just like steady state, low intensity cardio.

Lisa Russell:
Like yeah. Cause in my head, long distance running is like 10 to 20 miles.

Diwesh Poudyal:
Probably closer to like two to five.

Mike Reinold:
Yeah. And I don’t even know if, I mean, that would be aggressive, but yeah. I mean, in baseball, like they run poles a lot, which is just they run in the outfield like around the outfield, like back and forth a little bit. And that’s kind of what they do and yeah. I mean, not everybody likes to run, I get it. So I think people are always looking. Yeah. What do you think? Are we, yeah, this is really kind of funny that somebody would think that that would have a negative output. It’s so little work, right Lisa?

Lisa Russell:
Yeah. I mean, that’s in comparison to what long distance means in kind of the bubble of people that I tend to interact with. That’s like your warm up. You know? But from the growing kind of standpoint, that’s where it’s an interesting sport in terms of the energy systems that you have to be able to train because you do you need those. If we’re just talking about like a 2K race pace, okay, which is like eight or fewer minutes, typically. You have a start, which is really fast and explosive, and then you have the middle chunk of the race and then you have the finish, which is really fast and explosive. So you have to be able to have that explosiveness, but then that middle chunk is sort of your long distance training piece, right?

Lisa Russell:
Where if you’ve done all the really long, slow miles, your ability to maintain a really fast speed in that middle chunk and not get tired so you can be really explosive on either end is kind of how the training works. So in that aspect, you need both, you can’t be an effective rower without both. So in the sense of like, I mean, it’s not a debate within the running world, I wouldn’t think in terms of that, but if anything, they fall maybe a little shorter of the specific, explosive training, that’s not like rowing specific explosive because you have to have the capacity for both or you’re not going to be effective.

Mike Reinold:
I love that you brought that up, Lisa. And I think that’s a really interesting point because it’s all about that cardiac output in aerobic capacity has a lot of impact on fatigue and endurance over time. And I think that’s the really interesting point. Like we learned that from one of our former strength coaches, like [inaudible 00:10:13], who’s an elite college soccer player. Right? And that was kind of her passion was this a aerobic capacity stuff. She really opened my eyes to some of these short-sighted debates and stuff like on how aerobic capacity is so important for stuff. But in baseball pitching, just using this as an example, as quite an explosive sport, right? You explode for less than a second. And then you do nothing for 25 seconds. Right? We actually have statistical analysis that showed that pitchers fatigue faster, and they get worse later in the game if they have too short of seconds per pitch in between and the length in between pitches, the length between innings, the length between games, everything we have is all about how fast they fatigue out and that’s how most pitchers succeed.

Mike Reinold:
So anything we can do to build aerobic capacity, which I do think is part of that, right? It is a little bit of that. It’s not just strength, power and muscular endurance. It is some aerobic capacity I think is pretty important. So yeah. Anybody else? I think, yeah. I think we nailed that pretty good. Dewey, what else you got?

Diwesh Poudyal:
Yeah. I just wanted to add one last point because I think a lot of people do get hung up on the methods of this. And this is actually, again, another thing that I learned from Christie a little bit, and then even Mike Boyle talks about this a little bit. Right? Because I think when we start talking about cardiac output work, I think we’ve got to realize again, what is it that makes something a cardiac output type work, right? What is the energy system kind of demanding from the body? And the biggest, like baseline information that we know from a surface level understanding of this stuff is if someone is kind of spending quality time in that like 120 to 150 heart rate zone. Right? And kind of like staying in that parameter, we’re doing some aerobic training.

Diwesh Poudyal:
So there’s some easy ways to kind of sneak in some of this stuff. I would argue, especially for like the younger kids that might need a little bit of cardiac output work is sometimes a lot of their early warm-up section, maybe even they’re early phases of their speed, agility, power stuff. Like a lot of that stuff can be kind of spilled over and become this aerobic training section where they’re spending time being in that 120 to 140 heart rate zone. Right? And we’re not really, really emphasizing the power aspect for some of these kids. And then for the older athletes, again, if we do a very thorough, big dynamic warm-up section, that can also keep them within that range for quite a bit of time. And we know that exposure of, you know, if you look at even like the ACSM guidelines from way back in the day, they talk about the 60 to 90 minutes of aerobic work throughout the week is enough to induce a response to improve cardiac output, decrease heart rate and all that stuff.

Diwesh Poudyal:
So, if we just kind of layer that on over the course of the week, it could be enough to induce our response. Now if we’re looking for like a really high level of performance will they need a little bit more dedicated cardiac output training? Probably. Right? But I think we’ve got to start understanding that there’s ways to kind of sneak in some of this stuff and really make sure that we get it into our kids’ weekly training plan.

Mike Reinold:
And I think that’s why when we get into debates that are so specific, like, so sprints versus long distance running, right? And the answer is always going to be something in the middle, right? I mean, we say that about everything, right? The answer to everything is always going to be in the middle, but when you have that, I think then what you’re doing is you’re picking a side and then that’s not finding that middle ground. And, Dewey just brought up a lot of great points on how aerobic capacity could be built in so many different ways. And it’s so many different levels. I would sure hate for somebody to neglect that just because they read some articles on the internet and they’re anti long distance running now, which I don’t know. I mean, you know what I mean?

Mike Reinold:
I think we got to think a little bit more than that. There are no black and white answers to black and white questions. It doesn’t exist in the real world with athletes. So. Awesome. Great stuff. Good episode again. Thanks so much. Great answers everyone. I appreciate everybody on this Zoom call helping you out, answering your questions. So if you have them, keep them coming. Mikereinold.com, click on that podcast link, go to Apple Podcasts and Spotify and rate, review, subscribe, so that way we can keep doing these episodes and helping you out along the way. Thanks so much. See you in the next episode.

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