How cycling can aid your running

Complementing your running with cycling

The virtues of cross-training are well known, and while there is some truth when the experts say the only way to improve your running is by running and running only, there are plenty of others who believe other activities such as cycling are the way forward. So how can cycling help you as a runner?

Here are some of the virtues of cycling:

Cycling builds leg strength

Cycling tones some of the major leg muscles — quadriceps, calf and glutes — as well as strengthening tendons. Cycling is a good alternative to running as it is non load-bearing so there is minimal stress on joints.

Cycling optimizes fat burning

Fat burning occurs when the heart is working at around 65 to 75 per cent of maximum heart rate. A heart rate monitor will be useful for this purpose. If using a stationary bike in the gym, many of these have a sensor on which you can place your hands to find your heart rate. Cycling in this training zone will help you burn fat effectively and therefore lose weight.

Cycling works the cardiovascular system

The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart and lungs, and the fitter you become, the more efficiently they work. An increase in fitness means an increase in the speed that oxygen is pumped through your system.

Cycling has a reduced risk of injury

Cycling is a non-load bearing form of exercise, meaning that you are not supporting your whole bodyweight like you do when running. Sitting on a saddle means that a degree of pressure is taken off the joints, reducing the chances of an injury. For this reason cycling is considered a good option for people returning to fitness after an injury.

Cycling helps build speed

Interval training is a great way of building-up speed and the bike can play a major role. Most stationary bikes in your gym will have pre-programmed interval sessions and by following these, with gradual increases in the intensity level over time, you will see a significant improvement in your overall speed, both on and off the bike. The same applies if you are using a bike outdoors.

It is certainly true that if you want to improve your running there is no substitute other than actually running. However, adding other disciplines to your training can be of benefit and cycling is one of the best options. For the person just looking to get fit and stay fit, then a combination of running and cycling can be the ideal solution.

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