How Cycling Can Make You a Better Runner

How Cycling Can Make You a Better Runner

Sometimes I think running and cycling go hand in hand.  For me, those are my two main sources of cardio, with a heavier emphasis on running.  I often see many other serious runners in my cycling classes as well.  So what is it about cycling that attracts so many runners?  How are the two related?  Today I am going to fill you in on how cycling can make you a better runner!

How Cycling Can Make You a Better Runner

My cycling crew and me

First, we all know runners need cross-training every now and then.  Cross-training uses and therefore strengthens the muscles that don’t get used during running.  This helps to prevent muscle imbalances.  Muscle imbalances lead to injury, and injury is no good, especially when you’re in the midst of training for an upcoming race.  Cross-training also gives those primary muscles used during running a rest!  Muscles need rest to recover and repair so you can go just as hard on your next run.
How Cycling Can Make You a Better Runner

Okay, so cross-training is good for runners.  But now I’m going to tell you why should you choose cycling as your cross-training exercise.  First let me clarify that when I say “cycling” I am referring to an indoor cycling class!

Give Your Joints a Break!

Cycling is a great non-impact exercise, while running is very high-impact.  That repeated pounding of the foot on the pavement (or treadmill) day in and day out gets hard on your joints.  It’s a good idea to give your joints a break from time to time and do something non or low-impact.

Increase Your Endurance

Cycling is usually done at an aerobic level and uses slow-twitch muscle fibers.  I say “usually” because every now and then there are interval drills in classes that can take you to an anaerobic state for a short period of time.  For the most part though, you remain at an aerobic level, using slow-twitch muscle fibers, and both can make your next long-run a bit easier!

How Cycling Can Make You a Better Runner

Increase Your Speed

The beauty of cycling is that it targets BOTH types of muscle fibers, and both types play a role in running.  Before I said there are times when you will be anaerobic in a cycling class.  This is usually during sprints or surges.  These strengthen your fast-twitch muscle fibers which will make you faster on your next sprinting session or 5k!

Increase Your Turnover

A faster cadence on the bike (higher RPMs) can transfer to your cadence while running.  The goal is to speed up that turnover and hold a quick pace!

How Cycling Can Make You a Better Runner

Master Hills

Climbing hills in cycling classes can also transfer to running.  Practicing hills in your cycling class can make the next monster hill on your run a little less intimidating.  You have developed those muscles used to climb and are now able to beast that hill!

How Cycling Can Make You a Better Runner

If you’re a runner, and you do not already cycle, I hope you will try incorporating a spin class into your workout schedule every now and then for cross-training purposes!  As a spin instructor myself, I may be a bit biased, but it’s also really fun!  You’re in a dark room, with upbeat loud music, an instructor yelling drills at you, and you just get to get in your zone and go.

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How Cycling Can Make You a Better Runner

Let’s chat!

  1.  Do you take cycling classes?
  2. If you’re a runner, do you find that cycling classes help in your running?
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Healthy Chicken Piccata

Indulge in Italian, while maintain your waistline with this healthy chicken piccata recipe!  Made out of clean, wholesome ingredients there’s nothing to feel guilty about with this dish!  You won’t believe it’s healthy!

Healthy Chicken Piccata

What?!  Two recipes in a row?  Crazy, I know.  But it’s happening.  If you came here looking for new workouts or fitness posts, no need to worry – I’ll be back talking fitness on Friday.

Healthy Chicken Piccata

This past weekend, I got this out-of-nowhere craving for chicken piccata.  To me, chicken piccata is a fresh, lighter Italian dinner perfect for Summer.  The way I made it lightens the dish up even more.  I also nix the pasta, which chicken piccata is often served with, in change for some lemony-flavored asparagus to keep things fresh, light on calories and heavy on nutrients!

Healthy Chicken Piccata

I will drop the recipe here, and below that you will find my typical What I Ate Wednesday post.  A big thanks goes to Jenn from Peas and Crayons for hosting.

Healthy Chicken Piccata Recipe

Healthy Chicken Piccata

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup dry white cooking wine
  • 3/4 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 T. + 1 t. arrowroot starch
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T. capers
  • 2 T. parsley
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper

Instructions

  1. Slice chicken breasts into thin strips and pound with a meat mallet to tenderize the chicken.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, and then coat the chicken with 1 tablespoon of arrowroot starch.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan. Add the chicken to the pan and cook about 4 minutes on each side, until the chicken is done. Remove chicken, place on a plate and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 more tablespoon of oil in the pan, and add the shallots and sauce for about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
  5. Add the white wine, scraping the pan to remove any browned bits. Cook until the liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth to a small bowl, and add the 1 tsp of arrowroot starch.
  7. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil.
  8. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the arrowroot starch and broth mixture, and cook for about 1-3 minutes until the liquid begins to thicken.
  9. Add the chicken back in the pan, and add the extra tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice and capers. Let simmer on low heat for another 10-15 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.
http://www.blondeshavemorerun.com/2016/08/24/healthy-chicken-piccata/

What I Ate Wednesday

My morning started off with a quick 2-mile fast run at the gym followed by 15 minutes of strength training before coming home to have breakfast.

Breakfast:  Overnight oats!  In this mix went oats, almond milk, vanilla protein powder, powdered peanut butter, chia seeds and 1/2 banana.

Healthy Chicken Piccata

After breakfast and some blog work, I headed off to try a Pound class with a friend.  This was my first time trying Pound, and it was actually pretty fun!  The dancer in me appreciated moving to the rhythm!

Afternoon Snack:  I came home after pound class to have this chocolate protein shake made with almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, protein powder, greek yogurt, and topped with some cacao nibs.

Healthy Chicken Piccata

Lunch: I had a late lunch around 1:30 of some butternut squash turkey chili I prepped on Sunday.  Is it just me or do you think chili tastes better after setting for a day?  I think it’s that day that gives it time for all those flavors to really come out!

Healthy Chicken Piccata

That night I had my very first grad class for my Masters in Counseling Psychology.  So that was pretty exciting!  I packed along an apple and a pb dip made from some pb2 with greek yogurt and protein powder.

Dinner:  I got home around 7:30 and got to work on these zucchini lasagna roll-ups.  I already had ground turkey cooked in the fridge to use, so cooking time didn’t take too long.

IMG_9445

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Healthy Chicken Piccata

 

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Coconut Coated Thai Tofu

Coconut Coated Thai Tofu

Satisfy those Thai cravings with this vegan and vegetarian-friendly Coconut Coated Thai Tofu recipe. It has the perfect blend of Thai flavors, from the creamy peanut butter and salty Tamari to the flaked coconut coating.

I’m not vegan nor am I a vegetarian, but this meal makes a presence in my kitchen at least once every couple of weeks because it’s just that good.  I am linking up today with A Whisk and Two Wands  and Confessions of a Mother Runner.

Meatless-Monday-copy3

In figuring out what to write about in this post, I got to thinking…why would one want to incorporate a meatless dish in their menu at least once a week?  I’m 100% an omnivore.  I eat meat at least once each day.  I have nothing against meat, really.   But I can’t deny that nixing one meat-centered meal a week and replacing it with more of a plant-centered meal has to have some kind of benefit.

Coconut Coated Thai Tofu

So I did my homework and have brought to you…

The Benefits of Eating Less Meat

  • Those who don’t eat meat at all have a lower average BMI (Body Mass Index) than those who do eat meat.  This indicates that you may lose weight by eating less meat and filling your diet with more plant-based foods.
  • Eating less meat decreases the amount of saturated fat in your diet, which lowers your risk of heart disease.
  • Vegetarians have been shown to have a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and therefore, a decreased risk of diabetes.
  • Research has linked a vegan diet to a decreased risk of all cancer types.
  • Eating more vegetables, beans and leafy greens in place of meat can make you feel more energized!

Coconut Coated Thai Tofu

I’m not saying we (myself included) should all go become vegans or vegetarians.  Like I said, I enjoy my meat and eat it quite often.  I eat mostly chicken, turkey and seafood.  Once every two weeks, I might have an organic, grass-fed steak, but for the most part I keep my intake of red meat to a minimum due to all the saturated fat.

Coconut Coated Thai Tofu

By decreasing your intake of meat by going meatless just one day a week, you can still reap some of these great benefits.  According to a Harvard study, cutting meat out of your diet just once a week can decrease your risk of heart disease by up to 19%!

Coconut Coated Thai Tofu

What better way to kick-off going meatless than with Coconut Coated Thai Tofu?  It’s insanely flavorful.  I personally don’t even miss the meat factor, this dish is so good.   It’s the perfect answer to my Asian cuisine cravings!

Coconut Coated Thai Tofu

Thai Tofu With a Coconut Coating

Yield: 3

Ingredients

  • 14 oz package of Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1 1/2 T. Sesame Oil
  • 2 T. All-Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 2 T. Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 2 t. ginger paste
  • 1 T. Tamari

Instructions

  1. Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes.
  2. Heat sesame oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  3. When oil is hot, add in the tofu and sauté tofu until the cubes are lightly brown on all sides.
  4. Add in ginger paste, Tamari, and peanut butter.
  5. Lightly stir around until all tofu cubes are coated in ingredients.
  6. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Remove pan from heat, and sprinkle coconut on top. Stir, so that all tofu is coated in the coconut.
http://www.blondeshavemorerun.com/2016/08/22/coconut-coated-thai-tofu/

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Coconut Coated Thai Tofu

Let’s chat:

  1. Do you try to go meatless once a week?
  2. What is your favorite meatless recipe?

Comment below!

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