Using Cycling To Improve Your Running: Does It Really Work?
December 4, 2019
Less than half the amount of people who run also cycle, but these runners could be missing a trick. Cycling is a perfect complementary exercise for runners as it strengthens the leg muscles, can be a form of active recovery, and gives the joints a rest — all of which helps you to become a stronger and faster runner. For less serious runners, such as people who are just trying to improve their fitness and shed some pounds, cycling can help you to get out running for more than a mile or two before your body has had enough so that you can burn more calories.
Picking a type of cycling that suits you
All cycling uses the same muscles and improve your fitness, but the intensity and what is focused on will vary depending on which type of cycling you choose. For example, using a spin bike at the gym will primarily focus on your cardio and endurance and help you to burn fat, whereas getting yourself a mountain bike and cycling up hills will have a greater impact on your leg muscles. Cycling outside comes with the added bonus of connecting with nature and getting some fresh air. Plus, you can mix things up by cycling on different terrains. Mountain bikes can be inexpensive to buy, so if you enjoy running because there’s very little cost involved, then cycling offers this same perk.
Cycling helps runners to avoid a plateau
If running is your only form of exercise then you’re building certain sets of muscles in your legs that are specific to running. This is good and will help to strengthen those muscles, but eventually you’ll plateau from not mixing up your workouts. Cycling complements running well because it also focuses on leg muscles, but will use them in a different way and use different ones too. Strengthening all leg muscles, rather than just the ones used for running, will help to make you a stronger and faster runner. Because of this, it also means that cycling is an ideal exercise for active recovery when done at a low intensity.
Your joints can rest while you get an intense workout
Running is good for a lot of things, but your joints aren’t one of them. Your hips, ankles, and knees take a lot of impact when running, which can help to strengthen them, but it can also lead to injury. Replacing some of your running sessions with cycling can give your joints a much-needed rest without sacrificing an intense workout. Doing a brick workout can also be good for this. A brick workout is when two exercises are pushed together. For anyone new to this, try cycling for 10 miles at an intense pace and immediately follow it with a 1 mile run. Adjust these distances to suit you and gradually increase them as your fitness improves. A brick workout will make you feel like you’ve gone on a long run, but your joints won’t have taken the same impact, which is why it’s such a good option, especially if you’re recovering from an injury or working on your fitness.
There are lots of benefits to cycling as a runner, from resting your joints to strengthening your legs. Plus, cycling can be an inexpensive way to increase your calorie burn and improve your running.
Photo by Victor Xok on Unsplash