As a tennis player you are always looking for ways to stay fit and increase your overall conditioning for those long matches. Is running the answer? You run alot in tennis so one would naturally assume the more you can incorporate running into your tennis training the better. This isn’t necessarily true. Running and tennis are two sports that are very hard on your knees so putting the two together can be a recipe for injury. Also long distance running can take away from the development of your twitch muscles that are used for the running bursts you use in tennis.
So, to run or not to run? Run! Just do it correctly. Begin by looking at your feet. What shoes are you wearing? Running shoes and tennis shoes are built completely differently, each designed to provide support needed for their targetted sport. Running shoes are designed for forward movement only and therefore they have higher side padding to protect the ankles they also need to absorb shock, be flexible and durable. Tennis involves a lot of side-to-side action so you need a shoe with good lateral stability, but does not have the padding and support for the forward movement. So make sure when you run you use a good running shoe and when you play tennis you use a good tennis shoe. This will help avoid ankle and knee injuries.
Long distance running will not help your tennis game. Tennis requires short burts of speed and you need to develop the twitch muscles rather than long distance and endurance muscles. If you run or jog for long distances you may actually make yourself slower on the court. A one or two mile run is a great distance to try and incorporate into your fitness routine. If you are doing the one mile run see how quickly you can get it done and focus on reducing your time. Alternate with a little slower two mile jog on alternating days to build endurance. A neat drill we did was mix the sprint and jog. Set up a regular interval to switch from a jog to a full out sprint, back to a jog, to a full out sprint. I love this one because it helps you train for that burst of speed you need to get to a ball when your legs are tired.
So go ahead and run but make sure you use the correct shoes to protect your knees and ankles and don’t try to go long distances. The long distance will slow you down and put undo stress on your knees.
Have fun and happy running!