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.
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 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.