If you’re putting in the hours, but you don’t feel that you’re getting any fitter or faster as you run, it could be that you need to introduce some cross training into your routine – and cycling is a great way to do that, whether you do it on a bicycle or a stationary exercise bike.
Here’s four reasons why you should add cycling into your training plan…
- Builds strength and stamina:
Although running and cycling use some of the same muscle groups, the muscles are used in a different way so you can build up your overall strength and stamina. An increase in muscle strength will also increase your speed. Cycling is a good low-impact cardio option, and low impact cardio allows you to gently increase endurance as you can workout for longer periods of time without the stresses and strains you may feel from high impact exercise, and so it can help you to improve your heart health, which brings us to the next point.
- Keeps your heart strong:
Heart health is particularly important as long distance running forces the heart to work harder so it can effectively deliver oxygen to the muscles to keep them working, and it also improves your circulatory system. Since cycling is low-impact, you can continue the exercise for a longer period of time and by engaging in longer low impact cardiovascular workouts, you will improve the strength and function of your heart.
- Aids recovery and keeps you injury-free:
When you’re training, the danger of overtraining is a real issue, and it could leave you feeling exhausted and susceptible to injury. However if you add cycling into your cross training plan, you will not only be allowing your body some recovery time between runs, but also reducing your risk of injury. Running and cycling use many of the same muscle groups, particularly in your legs and core, but because the two activities use the muscles in different ways, they will gain in overall strength. Incorporating low impact cardio will also reduce any strain on your bones and joints.
- Less running, more benefits:
A major benefit of introducing biking into your training plan is that you can get the same results without putting your body through the stress of long-distance running which can have an impact on the joints in your knees, ankles and hips, and leave you with niggles and joint pain, or suffering from running-related injuries. To get the most out of cross-training, you could try a ‘brick workout’ which incorporates two different exercises into one plan. This kind of training is popular with triathletes as you follow one method of exercise immediately with another. Beginners to this regime could try a 5 mile bike ride, followed by a 1 mile run, and then slowly build this up to match your training programme. Ultimately this will reduces the amount of time you spend running, but it will give you the endurance you need to get you through distance running events.