How big a role does running play in your training?
In boxing, for fitness you have running and skipping – they’re the old school ways of getting fit. When I first started boxing, I’d get up every morning and grind out a long run. But then they started bringing all this science into it, so speedwork has become more important.
Do you enjoy it or is it a necessity?
I enjoy it, yeah. It’s hard, but what I’ve learned is that you have to beat the pain; you’ve got to out-work it and have fun with it.
Given that most of your fights are over quicker than a 100m race, how much cardio do you actually have to do?
There’s a lot of speedwork, but I also always do steady runs. So Monday morning is the long one – 45 minutes to an hour – and then throughout the week I’ll do a mixture of running, cycling and swimming to keep the cardio up.
What does the bulk of your strength work consist of?
So much of what I do in the gym is to strengthen my core. I do a lot of work on the stability ball, a lot of exercises using TRX ropes and a lot of bodyweight exercises, too. It does annoy me, though, because I tell my coach that I want bigger calves, bigger arms and a bigger chest. But he tells me, “No, size doesn’t matter, you’ve just got to keep everything strong.”
He doesn’t want me to just do squats in one place, for instance, because that won’t make me powerful. Everything I do in training is done with the overall aim of making me as powerful as possible.
Boxing training is notoriously brutal. How do you keep yourself motivated, day after day, and how can runners replicate that mental resilience?
Think of it like this: it’s always going to be painful – your body is always going to be screaming out – but once you’ve got enough experience, you know that when it becomes physically tough your mind can take over. And you keep going because you know that there’s always ways you can improve. If you listen to the people who tell you you’re great, you’re going to take your foot off the gas.
Does technology play a big role in your training?
It definitely helps my coach, but for me, in the day-to-day grind, I like to keep it raw. Science can make you weak; it can make you overly sensitive to small things. So one day the computer might say you haven’t had enough sleep or that you’re carrying a slight injury, but as an athlete you need to battle through these things. You can also become too overly reliant on tech, to the point that when you’re without it you’re not going to be able to perform. You need to be in tune with yourself and you need to be tough.
If you could go for a run with anyone, past or present, who would it be?
That’s hard! As mad as it sounds, I’d go for a run with someone like Jesus, or Ramesses from Ancient Egypt. These guys would have stories to tell!
Anthony Joshua is backing Lucozade Sport’s ‘Made to Move’ campaign. The UK’s leading sports drink brand aims to get one million people moving more by 2020. See more on the Made to Move sessions at: facebook.com/lucozadesport