Cross training: Cycling for runners

Cross training: Cycling for runners

Cycling for runners is often seen as a fall-back option for when you can’t run due to injury. But supplementing your weekly runs with cross-training by adding in a bike session or two can really benefit your running.

Like running, cycling gives you the option of taking it easy with a long, steady ride or pushing yourself harder through some tough intervals. You can choose to do it out in the fresh air or indoors and even at home if you have the right equipment. And just like running, it works your lower body which means your fitness gains from the bike will translate well into running fitness. So what are you waiting for?

Benefits of cycling for runners

Low-impact workout

Cycling is a good low-impact cardio option. Low impact cardio allows you to gently increase endurance as you can workout for longer periods of time without the stresses and strains you may feel from high impact exercise.

It’s a great option for for all levels of runner, but particularly those new to running. If you’re following a 5k training plan, you need to give your body time to get used to the high-impact nature of running. Adding in a couple of cycles alongside your 5k plan will help improve your fitness quicker without putting as much strain on your joints.

lower body workout

For runners who aren’t able to run because of injury or who want something that will really help towards their running goals, cycling can be a better option than other forms of cross training such as swimming. Running and cycling use some of the same muscle groups – it’s mainly your legs doing the work. However, the muscles are used in a different way which means you can build up your overall strength training and stamina.

Training options

Many of us love the flexibility that running offers us. We can head out any time, straight from our front door – and cycling offers that too. It also offers you the option to get out in the fresh air or to do an indoor exercise bike session. You can do it solo, with friends or in a spin class. Whatever works for you.

cycling workouts

try a brick workout

To get the most out of cross training, you could try a ‘brick workout’ which incorporates two different exercises into one session. This kind of training is popular with triathletes who need to train their bodies to do one exercise immediately after another.

Beginners could try a 5 mile bike ride, followed by a 10-minute run. This will increase the length of your session and boost your endurance while keeping your run length within a manageable amount.

Cycle your commute

Many runners are put off from running to work if their workplace doesn’t have showers. But because cycling allows you to work at a lower heart rate more easily, it’s easier to get less sweaty and therefore you may feel comfortable commuting by bike. If you’re able to cycle to work instead of sitting in a car or on a bus, you’re utilizing time where you would otherwise have been inactive for training. It’s the ultimate inefficient training time.

Cycling instead of an easy run

You can replicate much of the effects of an easy run on a bike if you work for time instead of distance. Simply work out how long your usual easy 5k would take you in minutes and cycle for the same duration. You’ll want to keep your effort level easy and you can do that either by working to heart rate or using perceived effort.

Cycling instead of running intervals

Bike intervals are a lot like running intervals – you work hard for a set duration and then have a recovery before repeating. However, whereas with running your pace determined how hard you work, on the bike you have to factor in both the resistance and the RPM (revolutions per minute) of the pedals you’re pushing. A simple way to get in a good bike interval session is as part of a spin class, and there are now lots of virtual class options that you can do from home.

Always do bike intervals on a stationary bike and not out on the roads. Save your road bike for the long, steady rides and commutes.

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