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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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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- Do you take cycling classes?
- If you’re a runner, do you find that cycling classes help in your running?