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What Are The Benefits Of Running For Cyclists

Updated on September 20, 2012
Could going for a run have benefits for your cycling?
Could going for a run have benefits for your cycling? | Source

Could running help your cycling?

We all know that running and cycling are both great exercises for us to keep in shape however could taking up running actually help with your cycling performance and have benefits?

Despite a similar action to cycling- running actually uses your muscles in different ways to cycling and therefore doesn't mimic the action of riding a bike (as many triathletes have found out on their bike to run changeover!)

While not proposing that every cyclist trains to run a marathon- Could running help benefit your cycling?

Running works your muscles in a different way

Whereas a cyclists most powerful leg muscle is their quads, a big strong quads are not desirable for running. The key leg muscles for running are actually the hamstrings.

This makes running a completely different physiological challenge to a cyclist. Especially as cyclists often have a hammer leg pedalling technique which is emphasized by quadriceps strength and hamstrings weakness. Strength discrepancies can lead to potential weaknesses in pedal technique. Strengthen and build more endurance in your hamstrings and you could improve your cycling pedal technique.

Running can strengthen a cyclists' bones

The relatively low impact that cycling has on your bones and joints increases a bike riders risk of calcium deficiency and osteoporosis. The high impact nature of running not only strengthens the muscles and tendons of the legs but also has an effect on improving bone density and calcification within those bones to develop a stronger skeleton.

Running can help build core stability for cycling

Cycling requires good core stability- running can help to develop this
Cycling requires good core stability- running can help to develop this | Source

Running can help you build stronger core muscles

All cyclists need a strong core to provide a solid platform with which to transfer power through the bicycle however in some ways sitting on a bike for hour after hour of training is not giving your core muscles a challenge.

While you're running your body remains significantly more upright than whilst cycling which puts great stress and strain in place to stabilize the key areas of the hips and pelvis. After you've been for a run you'll likely be able to acutely feel some of the stabilizing muscles within your abdomen and chest which have to work harder during running.

Having a strong core for cycling is not about doing crunches at the gym. It's about having the ability to transfer your cycling power effectively so going for a run could really help you to control your movements on a bike and increase efficiency of movement.

Running can give you some workout variety

Sadly if a cyclist spends every workout on the bike they can become psychologically drained and physically worn out over a race season. Running can therefore provide an alternate stimulus which will help a cyclist to remain fresh.

When you're hitting the winter base training you could consider a run instead of a steady workout sat at home on the turbo trainer. You may find those 45 minutes go alot quicker and at the end of your session you feel you've achieved a lot more than just having sat on your bike in a cold damp garage.

Running can benefit your cyclocross racing

Some running training could really help you cyclocross racing when conditions worsen
Some running training could really help you cyclocross racing when conditions worsen | Source

Cycling + Running = Cyclocross Racing

One of the most up and coming competitive forms of cycling is cyclocross. Cyclo-cross is traditionally an autumn/ winter activity which is effectively cross country racing through muddy fields and tracks.

Cyclocross concentrates not only on a cyclists ability to ride a bike but also the ability to dismount, carry a bike and remount depending on the demands course and conditions. It subsequently requires a degree of running which seems to increase the muddier the courses become.

On some cyclocross courses you could spend 10-20% of a race on your feet having to run with a bike on your shoulder so it makes sense to pay attention to developing your running ability. Not only will you be a quicker runner as a result but you will waste less energy therefore running can benefit a cyclist in their race performance

Do you think running can benefit your cycling?

We'd love to hear from you in the comments below



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    • Injured lamb profile image

      Injured lamb 5 years ago

      Oops...never think of running got to do something with cycling before this hub, I do pretty much cycling but not will be included in my life then, thanks for the sharing CyclingFitness, have a nice day!

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 5 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks Jen- I tried not to delve into triathlon on this as the focus was to improve cycling. Certainly if the running takes off its a worthwhile consideration although from a personal study of cyclists we tend to migrate towards the long distance and ironman side of triathlon which becomes a whole new training focus.

      Thanks Carol. Walking is also great and will provide some of the benefits here.

    • jenbeach21 profile image

      jenbeach21 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Very useful information! Great for triathletes also.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      We cycle almost everyday and walk in between..Probably not going to do much running. However, you made some great points here and Vote UP.

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 5 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks iheartkafka- I'm also working on a hub for the reverse although realistically there should be more performance improvement with cycling for runners.

      While there are benefits it's. Notable that realistically peak performance can only be subtly affected

    • iheartkafka profile image

      iheartkafka 5 years ago

      Awesome hub. I use cycling to improve my running performance, so I have no doubt it would work in the reverse.