How cross training could help you run faster | Women's Running

How cross training could help you run faster

Read Time:   |  February 18, 2020

Mix your training schedule up and try some cross training

If your training has gone perfectly, you’ve stayed injury free and bagged a PB or two, it’s very tempting to go back to your training log, look at all the things you did right and repeat the same programme. But have you ever heard it said that last year’s training gets last year’s results?

In order to get stronger and faster our bodies need to be stressed in different ways – we need new stimulus to improve. Yes, upping your mileage and doing more speedwork will result in faster times if it’s done carefully and progressively, but it carries with it an increased risk of injury.

Many runners and coaches are now incorporating cross training into their programmes, using a Wattbike in particular for indoor cycling. Pedalling has many proven benefits that transfer directly to running, and with many gyms equipped with Wattbikes as well as consumer models such as the Wattbike Atom being perfectly suited to home use, it’s easier than ever to include structured cycling sessions in your training plan.

Let’s take a look at some of those benefits that cross training on the bike can bring to your running.

Build strength

A 1994 study by Dr Thomas Miller, author of Programmed to Run, found that high-intensity intervals standing on the pedals of a stationary bike improved runners’ 10K times by an average of four minutes if done once a week for six weeks as part of a running training plan. The session gives your quads, glutes and core muscles a very tough workout without stressing your joints.

Prevent injury

As runners we’re battling niggles probably more than any other type of athlete. But because pedalling is low impact, it’s much easier on your joints, allowing you to strengthen the big muscles in your legs without the risk of overuse injuries such as shin splints. If you are recovering from a running injury, there’s every chance you’ll still be able to cycle, preserving your hard-won fitness and helping you stick to a training routine at the same time.

Extend endurance

Whereas a three-hour run is not feasible for most of us unless we’ve spent a long-time training specifically for it, a low intensity three-hour ride on a stationary bike most certainly is, at a low cost to our body. If you’ve just started running or are easing back in from an injury and want to build cardiovascular fitness, a long endurance ride will raise your heart rate and burn calories.

Active recovery

Racing cyclists always do a low-intensity recovery ride with the aim of flushing the toxins out of their legs. A ‘recovery’ run on post-race sore legs doesn’t quite work as well, so why not try a spin on a stationary bike after your long run or your track session? Reactivating your muscles gently can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and enable you to train more effectively next run.

Stay fresh

No matter how dedicated we are to running, we need to take a short break from it to stay fresh and keep motivated. Especially in the transition period at the end of your running season where it’s essential to give your mind a rest as well as your body, do a bit of cycling just to mix things up. When you start your running training again you’ll be eager to hit it harder than ever – and by cycling you won’t have lost as much of your fitness as you would have if you’d stayed on the sofa.

So why not complement your running with some strategic cycling this year? It could be the key to smashing that PB!

Wattbike Atom is priced at £1,599.99. Visit

‘Offering a fully connected cycling experience, the Wattbike Atom leads the way in connected fitness technology. When teamed up with the free-to-use Wattbike Hub App, it becomes an unrivalled training tool for accuracy and detail, with feedback such as pedal stroke efficiency (PES), power and heart rate available for detailed session-upon-session analysis. And it looks great too, while being easily adjustable so that it can be used by all members of the household.’

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