Running and Cycling

Hi there, I have been running now since January and love the 5km runs I do 3 times a week. I used to walk on the other days, but recently have been looking at the bike thats sitting in my shed for the past 7 years gathering dust and thought about getting back on the saddle again. Now its a mountain bike that like most others has never seen a mountain before. I just felt more comfortable on a mountain bike then a racer and that's why I bought it all those years ago.

The plan is 5km runs Mon/Wed/Fri and 20km cycle Tues/Thurs (a 1km run is the equivalent of a 4km cycle). There are as usual conflicting reports on the web with some people saying cycling is a great way to cross-train, and others stating that its the wrong way to go, but what do you all think of this?

I will still walk when I can and love the idea of just getting out and about, but wanted to complement the running with something else so thought that cycling might be the best idea.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.



The text below is from this link:

Cross-training, sometimes referred to as circuit training, refers to combining exercises of other disciplines, different than that of the athlete in training. In reference to running, cross-training is when a runner trains by doing another kind of fitness workout such as cycling, swimming, a fitness class or strength training, to supplement their running. It builds strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn't utilize. It prevents injury by correcting muscular imbalances. And the variety prevents boredom and burnout.

Benefits of Cross-Training

Alternative forms of exercise have definite benefits: improved your fitness, injury prevention and rehabilitation, quicker recovery, and boredom busters. The trick is to approach cross-training as a runner. Runners have their obvious strengths: power, endurance, tenacity. But within those strengths lies the potential for weakness: quads that overpower our hamstrings, neglected upper bodies, and poor flexibility—qualities that could lead to problems.


10 Replies

  • I can't imagine it would do any harm ...! The way I cycle is a bit more 'hello cows, hello trees' as I tootle along in a dream world. I suspect you may be planning something a little more hard core!

    There are lots of new off road cycle tracks opening these days where you can go all out without encountering traffic. Be careful though - I know quite a few middle aged men (not suggesting you are middle aged - no idea how old you are!) who have ended up on crutches for many months by going nuts on mountain bikes and if you are self-employed it can be a scary financial prospect ....

  • Thanks for that. I am 42 so not middle aged yet (or am I) but would be sticking to the roads as not wanting to damage myself too much as that would just be a set back. Wanted to cycle on the roads to complement the running rather then replace it and improve on fitness levels too. 20KM is nothing on a bike these days, but really wanted to look at a way to enjoy the running and get out into the air more during the yet to arrive summer months.

  • I am 50 and still class myself as young! Be careful and wear a helmet. 20km piece of cake for a young fit man such as yourself! You might want to change the tyres on your mountain bike or get a hybrid maybe?

  • My son runs as cross training for his it works that way round.

  • Earlier in the year I was cycling twice a week (about 20 km each time) to supplement my running. It was good cross training, although I did eventually burn out simply from having too much on (I also swam 3 times a week) and ended up taking a month off from exercising completely. So yes, cycling is great, but make sure you still get some rest every now and then :)

  • I cycle on the days I am not doing c25k and I find it helps. I have definitely noticed leg muscles alot stronger since cycling which in turn helps with my running! I also think its good to mix things up a bit by doing a variety of exercises as boredom can set in quickly!

  • I think we'd be mad to discourage you! Anyone wanting to be busy and out and about in the fresh air as much as possible is to be applauded!

    Wear your helmet, keep your eyes and ears open for the noobs driving and the holes in the road, maybe change your tyres for something less luggy (that whole whining tarmac-dragging Land Rover thing is a bit of a bore with a mountain bike on the road), don't use a padded saddle (apparently they can have really negative effects on all sorts of bits and bobs), learn how to make nice chewy don't-fall-apart flapjacks for your back pocket and, lastly, ( i like your article/ clipping by the way, thanks) is that a friend of mine is a triathlete in training (1 year in) and she always says when they get off their bikes to start running they always nearly fall over - cycling IS great cross-training for runners and vice-versa - it's all in the balance of power between quads and hammies ... you'll see!

    All the best! :-)

  • I've been running and cycling for the past 6 months (well until 2 weeks ago since when it's been all cycling and no running, but that's a long story). The two disciplines complement each other well.

    If you haven't cycled for some time on the roads it might be worth refreshing your bike/road handling skills. Things have changed out there. Ideally I would recommend signing up for an adult Bikeability course (many councils, particularly in the London area, offer them free or at nominal cost). If not, get hold of a copy of Cyclecraft by John Franklin and read the chapters on road positioning (Bikeability is based on this manual which is produced by the Stationery Office).

  • Am in Dublin and they do Bikeability here too. Will look into that.

  • I was training for a triathlon last year and my plan was 2x run 2x cycle and 2xswim per week. Every week there was a double training day so some days were running and cycle some days were swimming and running and some days were swimming and cycle. I have to admit that my body felt at its best during the cross training of triathlon but I toned it down a bit after the event and I have always kept up the principal I tend to only run twice a week and cross train the rest of the week. This year I did a 2.5km swimathon and a hm training at the same time.

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