Bicycle races are coming your way
So forget all your duties oh yeah!
Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today
So look out for those beauties oh yeah!
Check out ALL the CYCLING for RUNNER articles HERE
So where do I start? Not quite sure but I am sure that cycling will firm up those weak “runner glutes” and make me a stronger ultra-runner!
But first let me put my story into perspective. I am NOT an ex-elite cyclist like a certain Mr. Talk Ultra. More like a false beginner – I’ve certainly dabbled in road biking and have recently decided to take it a little further and invest myself more seriously in cycling as a cross-training alternative.
What motivated this decision? Cycling is a weight-bearing form of cardio-vascular exercise which is perfect for:
- Training during certain running-related injuries and maintaining cardiovascular fitness. I feel directly impacted by this as I have for the past 3 years had to cut down on my mileage and participation in long-distance events due to a foot injury. I heel strike on the right foot and after 2 decades of road and trail running my arch has collapsed and the spring ligament which is distended. The human foot has an arch much like the ones in some bridges and other architectural structures. And much like these man-made structures it is a useful engineering phenomenon with the tendons and spring ligament working together to provide “lift off”. A collapsing arch can be caused by injury or ageing. I don’t want to go down the road of orthotics and strengthening my foot muscles requires a reduction in mileage and as I hate aqua jogging cycling seemed like a good option!
- Cross-training to prevent over-training and a sudden increase in mileage. If you are not already injured as I am cycling is an effective means of preventing running-related injuries or at least reducing the risk. I wish I had taken up cycling before to prevent all those running-related injuries the damage of which is irreversible.
This will not be the first time I use cycling to maintain fitness. A few years ago I was training for a 100-miler and felt excruciating pain when I went out for a run. My suspicions were confirmed by the radiologist. I had multiple stress fractures of the metatarsals caused by a sudden increase in mileage combined with calcium deficiency. This is not uncommon for female ultra-runners. I was told ‘RICE’ (rest, ice, compress, elevate) was what was required. Only problem – I had invested financially and time-wise my 100-miler in South Africa was just 5 weeks away. So I laid off running for 5 weeks and cycled intensely (psychologically I didn’t want to feel undertrained and it was far too early to taper). The 5-week rest from running did me the world of good and by the time I got to the start line the bones in my foot had healed and very little fitness had been lost due to my cycling. In addition to this although I didn’t get my “runner’s high”, I did get a fix from cycling and I didn’t gain any weight.
You only have to look at female athletes like Nathalie Mauclair, Emilie Forsberg and Emilie Lecomte to realize that cross-training can be beneficial and help you stay injury-free, add variety and spice to your running by stimulating other group muscles and ultimately increase the longevity of your run career whether you are a professional or not.
Well now that I’ve sold the benefits of cycling for runners let me tell you about my dabbling with the sport:
I grew up in the Netherlands where kids are born on bikes so I started cycling relatively long distances when I was 5 – at weekends it wasn’t uncommon for us kids to cycle 20km to the pancake restaurant, eat up a massive Dutch pancake and cycle 20km back home. Then as I grew up into a lazy teenager I put away my bike and only took up cycling again when I was injured as a runner.
The revelation really came when I attended a triathlon camp in Lanzarote run by my partner Ian Corless who was an ex elite cyclist very keen on triathlon and IM training. Lanzarote is a cyclists’ paradise and here I learnt to use clipless pedals and more importantly experience the thrill of cycling through endless stretches of volcanic landscapes, against strong head-on winds and down scary descents…! I loved it but I didn’t have my own bike and so cycling was limited.
I am now more than motivated to progress, mix things up and not only provide some spice to my training but also I know, cycling will make me a better runner. I hope that my input as a “novice” or “false beginner” who can provide a female perspective will help all of you, especially female ultra-runners out there who want to improve as runners.
So let the fun begin…
Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving – Albert Einstein
Ladies, I would love to hear from you… tell me your stories, tell me how you are using cycling for running and importantly, have you got any cycling gossip?
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