On yer’ bike! Why cycling is good for runners

cycling 1

There’s no doubt that cycling is one of the most popular cross training activities for runners. There are numerous benefits to getting on your bike from improving your vO2 max to building on leg strength and cadence.

Whether it be on the road or in the gym, time spent spinning those legs on the bike is valuable fitness in the bank.

Cycling reduces stress – I’m not just talking about the stress relief of endorphins firing but also the stress on your legs. Cycling let’s you add another high intensity workout to your training programme in place of a running session to reduce the impact on your legs. Trust me, your legs will thank you for putting less stress on your joints from pounding the road or the treadmill. This in turn reduces the risk of injury as well.

Cycling builds leg strength – I’ve been told by my physiotherapist before to build up the strength in my legs, particularly in my quads. Cycling will help to build up the strength in your calves, shins and quads which is beneficial for runners. Cycling also has the same triple extension that running does. In both running and cycling you extend your knees, hips and ankles which you can do at a similar cadence to running when cycling, or even faster.

IMG_0279

Cycling helps you to recover – While you’re working on other, maybe weaker areas of your body the over worked areas will feel plenty rested which in turn will help you to (hopefully) remain injury free. Not only that but if you’re well rested you’ll be able to perform better on your next run. That said, if you are unfortunate enough to have a running injury then cycling is great rehab for your legs and can help you to maintain a good level of fitness.

Cycling gives you a change of scenery – Cycling gives you a mental break from running and the mind games that come with it! This can be invaluable in helping you to get out of a training rut or can even help you to break through some important mental barriers when training for a race for example. It will also keep your legs guessing and they will then feel fresh for that next run. In a practical sense, you can also go further in a shorter time on a bike and can therefore have a literal change of scenery and see more!

cycling 5

Cycling can’t replace running – However it is important to note that cycling can’t replace running. If you do choose to build cycling in to your running programme then you must keep up your long run and other quality session such as speed for example, especially if you’re training for a race! Easy pace or recovery runs can be replaced by cycling and of course, if your injured then adjust this accordingly as mentioned above in this post. I’d say it’s also important to keep up your strength work, too.  About 10-15 minutes is said to be the equivalent of one mile and try to keep between 90-100RPM to mimic running cadence.

Running 3

Advertisements

Tackling common running injuries

Sometimes, just sometimes, I hate running.

I soon fall in love with it all over again but there is one element which makes me truly hate it sometimes. It’s not hitting the wall in a race, nor is it dragging myself out on long runs in the cold, dark and wet weather, it’s injury.

blog post 8 this is one

That dreaded word strikes fear in to the hearts – and legs – of runners everywhere. Ask any runner, or any athlete for that matter, and they’ll probably tell you that the most frustrating thing you can be told to do is rest. Yes, it’s the sensible thing to do but when it’s what you love and what you do then being told you can’t perform for a while is devastating.

This blog post comes after a disappointing training run which basically ended in tears of frustration at a year old knee problem rearing its ugly head again.

So after a pep talk from Dane we decided that for a while it’s going to be lots of swimming, cycling and trail running rather than road running. He has also designed me my very own injury prevention programme which I’m excited to start.

If you say so, Ryan...

If you say so, Ryan…

Post pep talk I turned to my new bible. Ready to Run by Dr Kelly Starrett explains how to prevent and deal with injuries, how to tap in to your running potential and how to turn your weaknesses in to your strengths. Not only that but he also writes about how to equip your own home mobility gym and lays out a set of mobility exercises for restoring optimal function and range of motion to joints and tissues.

We should see injuries as messages about what’s missing in our mechanics and range of motion according to Starrett and by doing this we will be able to run faster, for longer and better.

blog post 1

Starrett has a two-stage plan of attack for tackling common running injuries such as runners knee, ITB syndrome and shin splints.

1. When chronic pain rears its ugly head, study your mechanics and positions to determine the root cause of the problem. Go through the position standards: neutral feet, a good squat, hip flexion, hip extension and the mobility of your feet and ankles.
2. Position and mechanics come first; treating the symptoms is your second priority. Work on the problem area but also above and below the problem.

Starrett’s point is simple: “all human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.”

As sports technology has developed we have been drawn in to a world of fancy trainers and innovative gadgets all boasting to enhance running performance but we need to be able to run without these items. Equip yourself with the tools and knowledge of how to maintain the best possible running form and technique and according to Starrett we will be Ready to Run.