Conditioning…Distance Running

Day 1 = 20-30 minute run
Day 2 = 10-12 poles
Day 3 = 8-10 half pole sprints
Day 4 = 8-10 30 yard sprints
Day 5 = Game

That’s an example of what my generation of starting pitchers would do for conditioning (just the running part) between starts. Boy have times changed! For the last half of my career, I would include sprint work with the distance work on days 1 & 2 simply because I felt I would benefit from it.

Towards the end of my career, we started to see some changes in the approach to distance running and the benefits, or lack of benefits as many argue, pertaining to baseball players and more specifically, pitchers.

When you think about it, if a pitcher were to throw 100 pitches and their delivery took 1-2 seconds to complete from start to release, you’re looking at between 2-3 minutes of combined physical exertion for that athlete. Doesn’t seem like a lot I know, but take my word for it, 100 pitches thrown with max effort and max focus over the course of a 2-3 hour game can be extremely exhausting, especially during a day game in the mid west in August!

With that in mind, this is the reason for a shift in thinking and getting away from distance training and spending more time on quick/short burst training. A starters conditioning routine these days may look something like this…

Day 1 = 10-12 sprint poles
Day 2 = 10-12 60 yard sprints
Day 3 = Agility Work
Day 4 = 8-10 30 yard sprints
Day 5 = Game

As a player, I loved the sprint work and grew to enjoy, and look forward to, those distance days. Maybe the distance work contradicts the explosive fast twitch way of playing the game BUT there is one major thing that was very hard for us former players to get the trainers and strength and conditioning coaches to realize…The mental piece. The time to reflect on our performance. The mental toughness you develop when needing to push through that last 5-10 minutes when you would love to stop. The mental & physical stamina you are developing, very similar to competing and when your tank is starting to run out but your team needs you for another 1-2 innings.

It’s definitely a tough argument were both sides feel very strongly about their beliefs. You have the player side who performed, relied on and saw distance running as a piece to their success and then the other side which never performed for a living but has all the science based research and information to back their side of the argument.

In the end, I think they both should be, and can be, incorporated into weekly conditioning routines. They all have their PHYSICAL & MENTAL benefits. It’s arrogant to ignore either side of the argument. Players who end up playing the game for a long time will end up developing their own routine that they enjoy and works for them.

Conditioning is a part of the game. It’s a part of being a well rounded athlete. Develop, set a routine and make it a habit! Enjoy!!

Chris Gissell (140 Posts)

Founder of Baseball Dudes. Blessed with three beautiful children and an amazing wife. Baseball is my life, after my family, and I love sharing what I have learned from it. Thanks for taking the time to view what we offer here at Baseball Dudes.