Fitness / Running

How Indoor Cycling Can Help Improve Running

Cross-training with indoor cycling can provide a low-impact alternative that improves your running.

Runners main form of training is of course, running. However, it’s a good idea to incorporate other types of exercise into your fitness regime, that’ll actually help with your running, such as indoor cycling.

Indoor cycling is complementary to your running. This type of cross-training provides a low-impact alternative and adds variety to your routine, while simultaneously improving your running. It replicates the cardiovascular endurance and stamina workout without the added stress on your joints.

We talked to Coach Jonathan Cane about how runners can take advantage of the benefits of indoor cycling, why it’s good for them and how to incorporate it into their routine that complements their current training.

Is indoor cycling something that runners should do?

Coach Cane comments that it really depends. For a competitive runner, running should be their exclusive cardio exercise. He cites multiple Ironman Triathlon World Champion Mark Allen as an example, who “hung up his bike and swim goggles when he was training for the Olympic Trials marathon.”

However, “for those with less experience and less of a mileage base and whose bodies can’t handle as many miles,” he says, “riding is a great weapon in the arsenal.” For them, it might be worth considering cross-training and integrating cycling to your routine. He also adds, “If I’m working with an elite runner with lots of experience, and whose goal is to run faster, I’m only going to use cycling as a supplement if there’s an injury (or sign of an impending injury).”

Indoor cycling is complementary to running

“Many runners wait until they’re injured to dust off the bike,” says Coach Cane. “For most, I’d rather they treat riding as a supplement to their running, and one which can help them avoid injuries.
“Running is great, but the repeated impact can take a toll on an athlete’s body,” says Coach Cane. The repetitive stress to your body can result in injuries such as runner’s knee, achilles tendonitis and shin splints. This doesn’t mean that you should give up running though, but if you want to give your body a break then indoor cycling is a good alternative.

Coach Cane says, “It works your cardiovascular system but without the orthopedic stress associated with running.” This makes it ideal for those who are injured or who are recovering from an injury and are looking to get back into training. It’s also a great preventative measure so that you can reduce the risk of injury.

He also points out that “because it’s easier on the athlete’s body, at times, you’ll be able to ride longer than you can run.” He suggests that “Before you push yourself by adding too many running miles too fast, consider a little riding as a supplement instead.” It means you can change up your routine and add variety while still improving your stamina and endurance.

How to incorporate indoor cycling with running

If you’re a runner looking to integrate indoor cycling sessions with your running routine, first, consider your current training. How frequently you train, the intensity levels of your sessions and your fitness goals (such as whether it’s to increase speed or endurance) should all be taken into consideration. Try to integrate indoor cycling to your routine but in a way that fits in with your current training and fitness goals to really make cross-training work for you.

If you prefer intense runs, such as doing hill sprints or speed work, then it might be good to include an easy effort cycling workout in between these runs for light, active recovery. It’ll mean you can keep moving while giving your body a rest. If you’re recovering from an injury and want to take it easy, then go for light jogs and bring up the intensity in your cycling sessions instead. This is so you can get a more intense workout in a low-impact way without worsening your injuries.

Coach Cane suggests that for runners who are used to training 4-5 times a week, adding 1-2 cycling sessions into your routine is a good place to start. “That still leaves room for at least one rest day, but increases the training load,” he explains.

Cross-training for runners

Cross-training is a great way to improve your running. As indoor cycling is a complementary exercise, its benefits translate over so that you can enhance your running performance in a low-impact way. Try integrating indoor cycling into your routine to add variety, give your body a rest while still working on your cardio endurance.

Cycling Fitness Running


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