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Why Cyclists Should Be Running

One thing that I’ve learned about pure cyclists is that they love to get out for a ride and don’t really worry too much about cross training unless they maybe hit the gym a few times a week. Go for a run? Forget about it and don’t even bring up the four letter word “swim”.

Before you write off running all together let’s sit down and have a little talk about this.

For the most part studies have not shown there to be any real correlation between running and getting faster on the bike. In a study by Telemark University College in Norway a group of scientists tested the effect of VO2max running intervals on elite cyclists’ time trial performance. The experiment was comprised of two blocks of high intensity running intervals during the cyclists’ pre-season workouts. The first block comprised 14 interval workouts in 9 days and the second was 2 months later and comprised 15 intervals in 10 days. In between the two blocks the cyclists followed a typical pre-season training schedule. cadana casino In the end these cyclists improved their time trial performance by a whopping 14.9% which I think any one of us would be happy with. The problem is that there was no control group to compare the running group to. Would other cyclists have had the same improvement if they had done VO2max intervals on the bike? We don’t necessarily know.

So if we’re not guaranteed an increase in speed, better pedal efficiency, or increased cadence then why run?

While running doesn’t mimic the exact muscle contractions that we use while cycling (running is eccentric contraction while cycling is concentric) there are still some good benefits that a cyclist can gain by pounding the pavement every once in a while.

Let’s address the various reasons that running might just be a good idea for cyclists.

Time Efficiency

Getting ready for a ride can be a fairly long endeavor. You have to pull your bike out, find your helmet gloves and shoes, check the tire pressure, and get nutrition and water ready. If you’re really Johnny on The Spot you can be out the door in twenty minutes or so. For an hour run all you need are shoes, shorts and a shirt. Get all those things together and you’re out the door in no time.

You might not always have time to do a multi-hour ride but hate the thought of skipping a workout just because of a time constraint. Instead of skipping your workout, go for a run that does fit into your tight schedule. Throw in some intervals and you can rack up a pretty decent amount of training stress pretty quickly.

Safety

You’ve had a long day at work and have gotten home after dark but still haven’t gotten your ride in. Now what? Drivers are crazy enough when the sun is out and get downright dangerous when it sets. Even in Texarkana where sidewalks are a hot commodity, running in the dark is relatively safe. With just a few flashing lights and some back roads you can sleep well that night knowing that you got a workout in.

Improves Muscle and Tendon Durability

Every athlete’s goal is to spend as little time as possible off the bike due to injury. Some cyclists go to pretty great lengths to make sure that their bodies are in top condition as to avoid down time. This is one reason why we hit the gym. Unfortunately most of us don’t have a home gym and must resort to driving to a local gym in order to weight train. The return on investment of having to go to a gym is relatively low when you consider all the time it takes to get everything together, get to the gym, get your workout in, get home and get cleaned up or back to work. This all feeds back to the Time Efficiency thought that it takes far less time to go for a run. Still want a strength aspect? Do hill repeats or bounds to improve your strength as well muscle and tendon durability.

Bone Density

This is the big one that road cyclists (mountain bikers and cyclocross tend to do all right from all the vibration, jostling, dismounting and running) and swimmers can really suffer from if they don’t participate in some kind of load bearing activity. In the last few years research has shown a high correlation between osteoporosis and osteopenia with cycling.

Basically how it works is that our bodies are continually rebuilding our skeleton by absorbing old bone and replacing it with calcium. Vibrations from running, plyometrics, weight training and even walking trigger the stressed tissue to begin this rebuilding process. Thanks to modern science we’ve designed bikes that take as much road vibration into the frame and out of our bodies. While this makes for a far more comfortable ride, it’s not doing our bones any good.

Simply making a few changes in your training (add running, basketball or jumping rope) and nutrition (getting more calcium through foods such as greek yogurt and dark leafy greens) can, over time, make for sizable improvements in bone density.

Unless you already know that you have bad knees, hips, ankles or back then give running a shot as a cross training tool, not only to be more time efficient or improve bone density, but to put some variety into your weekly training schedule. You don’t have to run for an hours on end. You can simply do a run/walk regimen of, for example, 2 minutes running & 5 minutes walking repeated for as long as you’d like. In time you can increase the running and decrease the walking if you feel so inclined.  If you’re going to be at the gym to lift weights anyway then add in a 10-20 minute run or walk as your warm up. If you do have a good reason that you can’t run, you’re not off the hook. You’re why I specifically included walking in ways that you can also see improvements.

 

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