If you are the type of person who loves to go on long runs because it helps you relieve stress and take your mind away from daily rigors, this section is not for you, go ahead and skip to the next section. If your goal is to maximize training results and performance on the field, than I suggest you stop running. I know that sounds weird. Many of you will tell me that running is a major part of your fitness program and its worked for you in the past. That is absolutely true, I will not argue with you. Similarly, I can put a steak in the microwave for a few minutes and it will “work”. You can’t argue with me that its not cooked but I think we can all agree that it’s not the best way to prepare a ribeye. The problem with hitting the pavement is that the pavement is also hitting you! While you are running around the neighborhood, listening to your latest workout playlist from alikrieger.com, your body has to absorb each and every step that you take. For 30-60 minutes, your ankles, knees, hips, and back are taking an absolute beating. That wear and tear is completely unnecessary in this case. You can get all of the same benefits of running and build a strong aerobic base while saving your body.
For conditioning sessions that are 20 minutes or more, consider using a bike, elliptical, or rower(my personal favorite). All of these modalities will help you build the aerobic base you are looking for and many times it’s even more effective than running. Swimming is also a great option for those with access to a pool. Even if you don’t know how to swim, you can grab a kick board, or do some of the simple dynamic warmup movements in the water, like high knee running or shuffling. Whichever modality you choose, build your cardio base with a slow steady pace for 20 minutes+ or work in intervals.
Tip #1 If you choose intervals, use a work to rest ratio that is higher on the work side, like 2:1. So for instance, bike hard for 2 minutes, than recover for 1 minute. Repeat the cycle until you get to the desired total time.
Tip #2 Focus on density instead of volume. If you are biking for 25 minutes, don’t go for 30 or 35 minutes the next week. Record the distance covered in 25 minutes and try to beat that score instead.
**ADVICE FOR S&C COACHES
You should not be present for non-impact conditioning. Print out the work, rest, duration, and modalities and assign them to your trusted team leaders. Have small groups compete for the best score, winning team gets to select music for a week. This will not only get the job done for conditioning, but it will also teach them leadership and accountability in a competitive environment. Anytime you can get your players to compete, it's a good thing.