Friday, February 20, 2015

Distance Running a Thing of the Past

In my blog from last week I referenced two articles written by Eric Cressey that dealt with conditioning and training of pitchers and other athletes. This week my intent is to highlight a few parts of the first of the two articles and give my input on what is said.

In A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 1 Cressey makes nine points on why he believes distance running is not the correct action for pitchers. His first point is that by running long distance your immune system becomes weaker, therefore the chances of spreading of any disease among the team is higher. Cressey references that in a review done in 2006 by Glesson that “post exercise immune function depression is most pronounced when exercise is continuous [and] prolonged.” So is the health of your players and team worth it?

Cressey points out the lifestyle of many baseball athletes from collegiate to the professional levels as another negative aspect. Many of the players deal with absurd sleeping hours from the crazy travel schedule and horrible dietary habits from being on the road as many of the clubhouses don't serve anything healthy or gourmet. Many of the meals for the players are done cheaply such as PB&J’s or pizza as many teams are on a budget. When you take these two factors into account along with the addition of too much alcohol you're creating a mess of the athletes hormonal environment as there is a reduction in testosterone and growth hormone output. Which are the same effects that are found in endurance athletes. Two negatives still don't make a right.

The third negative impact of distance running is that of mobility concerns. Pitchers who are dependent on having mobility in their hips to generate stride length and in turn higher velocity are being deprived by the action of jogging. The action of jogging doesn't engage the hip flexors like that of sprinting does, therefor, distance runners lose the flexibility. Last time I checked there weren't too many pitchers in the MLB that didn't have good velocity behind their fastball.

Due to the beast of the sport of baseball players are always at risk with a long season (the longest of all sports), overhead throwing (not a natural movement), and unilateral dominance. Unilateral dominance is mainly seen in the athletes that throw and hit from the same side. Cressey references Grey Cook as saying that asymmetry is the biggest predictor in injury. So what does this have to do with distance running? Well distance running doesn't help to correct these issues as the movement is a straightforward movement. As Cressey puts it pitchers are better off just shagging fly balls cause the are at least moving side to side

Lastly Cressey bluntly puts it, “distance running is boring”.  I’d have to agree, when was the last time that you or anyone other than an avid distance runner was excited about running distance? Probably doesn't happen too often. Just as any other training that is done whether it be for that Monday 8 am calculus class or the the next big start in front of a sold out crowd you're not going to get the most out of it unless you enjoy it. With this in mind and the fact that distance running is detrimental to the players career, how about we change the way that the athlete trains and lets make it fun or at least enjoyable.

For more of a in depth look at Cressey’s reasoning please visit his article linked above as well as his numerous other articles. In next weeks blog I will take a look at part 2 of these articles and highlight a few of my favorite points.

Cressey, E. (2008, January 31). A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 1.
Retrieved February 21, 2015, from


  1. It seems that not many people or coaches would think that long distance running would actually hurt athletes. In this case, looking specifically at pitchers, it makes sense that the motion of a long distance run (or jog) isn't exactly utilizing the same muscles used in the pitching motion. However, lateral exercises and sprints allows for the athlete to stretch and strengthen the same muscles used in the long powerful pitching motion used to generate as much power on the pitch as possible. It is certainly some interesting information.

  2. Interesting statement about hip stiffness in long distance runners. Hip mobility is extremely important in every sport and can hinder even the worlds greatest athletes. Looking forward to next weeks blog, hope it includes the training methods and ways to prevent stiffness in the hips

  3. I would have to agree with the fact that some athletes don't need long distance training especially pitchers. I didn't know that long distance actually weakens the immune system which gives you a higher risk of getting sick. I personally actually like running long distance, not inside but outside when its warm I enjoy it. Rare, maybe but it gives me time to escape the stresses of school and work. What Eric said about sprints though is true and I agree with how it actually helps the motions they perform. But giving these athletes like pitchers different work outs besides long distance running will help their pitching and keep them motivated and interested and perhaps from getting sick as much.