Many runners will turn to cycling to keep their fitness levels up when they are injured. But as a runner, you need not take up cycling only when you are injured. It can, in fact, be a great form of cross training – and this will ultimately increase your running performance.
Here are four reasons on how cycling can help runners.
1) Cycling uses a completely different set of muscles from running
Because cycling uses completely different muscles to running, you will not feel as sore or painful when you do it – compared to if you are going out there for say, a recovery run. And cycling will help to increase the blood flow around your body and remove the unwanted lactic acid gained after a long or hard run. So, by doing a bike ride, you will ultimately recover faster – and will get back to running sooner.
2) Increases strength and aerobic capacity
As a runner, cycling will allow you to increase your strength and aerobic capacity. And this will ultimately help you to become a stronger and faster runner. Sometimes, cyclists may even be required to push their aerobic capacities further than runners would. For example, cycling up a steep hill requires a lot more aerobic work compared to running up the same hill. And you can also do hard cycling intervals too – the same way that you would do tough running intervals – but at the same time, without getting the pounding impact of the pavement, on the knees and legs.
3) Reduces risk of injury
As cycling uses quite different leg muscles to running, it’s quite good in complementing running. As a result, your running muscles will not be so overused and you will be less likely to get injuries. This is especially important for marathoners and ultra runners who are required to clock long distances. At the same time, you will be getting a good cardio workout and burning plenty of calories.
4) Gives you a good cardio workout without suffering the effects of pounding the pavement
If it is done in excess, running can take a toll on the knees. And you will most likely feel the aches and pains after a very long run. But if you go on a long bike ride, your knees and legs will not have experienced the pavement pounding that they would otherwise have had. And at the same time, you will be reducing your risk of injuries and still getting a good cardio workout. This is because cycling is a low impact sport and easier – on the knees and the legs – than running.