CYCLING for RUNNERS – Girl What Cycles (2)


At first I was afraid

I was petrified

And I grew strong

And I learned how to get along

and so you’re back

Did you think I’d crumble

Did you think I’d lay down and die

Oh no, not I

I will survive

But now I hold my head up high

and you see me

somebody new

– Gloria Gaynor


Well …….THAT was epic! Back on the bike. I must say the once yearly training sessions in Lanzarote are maybe not sufficient to make me feel at home on a bike.

Now, a couple of vital tips for the novice cyclist or not so novice cyclist who is going to use cycling as cross training.

First and foremost if you are lucky enough to go out on your initial cycling rides with an ex-elite cyclist:

  • Use the opportunity to benefit from his experience to take in all the useful tips about how to handle your gears (of course you need to first find out where they are). This means you will maximize your energy and hopefully be sticking to an ideal cadence of 90 rpm.
  • Draft as much as you can behind him so you can concentrate on mastering the technical aspects of your bike and less on maintaining speed.
  • IGNORE and pretend not to notice that he can take his hands off the handlebars and put on his wind-stopper jacket or hold the iphone and take snaps of you pedaling like a mad woman all without losing his balance. This requires decades of training where the bike eventually becomes an extension of the cyclist’s body. You will NOT get to this level but the objective is to benefit from what cycling offers in terms of cross-training – i.e. a weight-bearing cardio-vascular work-out and not all these impressive balancing acts.

The first ride is all about getting to know your bike and cycling kit better and not catering any ambitions with regards to average speed. This means:

  • Playing around with the gears – knowing when to get on the “big ring” and the “small ring”. You need to maintain a regular cadence and so be attentive to the course – the up-hills and down-hills as well as the direction of the wind.
  • Being aware of the dangers of traffic. Obviously you should ideally be cycling on country roads with reduced traffic but for most of us this means cycling through urban traffic before we can access these roads. Initially this is a little daunting especially since you’re trying to master your new bike.
  • Learning how to maintain balance and being able to grab hold of your water bottle or wipe a snotty nose without wobbling.
  • Learning to use clip-less pedals effectively. These might take a little getting used to but it is important to practice clipping and unclipping. At the beginning novice riders tend to unclip too much as the idea of suddenly having to break at a junction, traffic lights, cross-roads, circle, accident or congestion and losing your balance and falling still clipped to the bicycle is something we wish to avoid at all costs. Yet here again it is all about anticipating the aforementioned and using the gears effectively to get into an easier gear so you just need to slow down without unclipping.
  • Working on pedaling technique so you don’t acquire bad habits from the beginning. Use the “wiping dog shit” technique. Literally imagine you are wiping dog-shit from your shoes by dropping your heel at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
  • Enjoying the experience and not being traumatized by it so you can’t wait for your next ride! This is a hard one – after my third ride I was beating myself up because I was flying on long flat stretches of uncongested road and riding at a pathetic snail’s pace on the smallest gear up short little steep hills, spinning but not covering distance. Again this is all about experience – the more you go out, the more energy-efficient you will become. Believe in yourself and remind yourself that being perched on top of a bike is for most people a totally unnatural thing and that you will get there ………eventually. Positive thinking also helps!

My personal tip to make your first rides easier:

  • Keep all your cycling kit in one place. Don’t mix it with your run kit. There is sooooo much more to take with you, the list is endless and before you know it you are out the door and you’ve forgotten something.


  • Helmet (don’t laugh – this is the last item I almost forgot)
  • Energy bars – yep, when you spend all that nervous energy these are a welcome treat and booster.
  • Proper wind-proof gloves as from now – remember there’s the wind-chill factor to contend with in cycling.
  • A filled water bottle.
  • Your sports watch if you use one on the “cycling” settings – I use a Suunto Ambit 2.
  • Proper sun-glasses for cycling NOT running – Cycling glasses cover the eyes more and protect.
  • Spare cash – when you cycle you cover more distance than when you run and you never know if you need it.
  • A proper wind-proof jacket
  • All the kit to fix a puncture – we’ll come to the nitty-gritty of this later.
  • Two pairs of socks if haven’t invested in shoe covers yet.

And last of all:

  • LOTS of positive energy and a smile

follow me on Twitter @girwhatcycles



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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS and SUUNTO for the support and backing


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CYCLING for RUNNERS – The Introduction



Welcome to CYCLING for RUNNERS in conjunction with Scott Sports

Over the coming months and year, Ian Corless and Niandi Carmont in conjunction with SCOTT SPORTS will bring you CYCLING FOR RUNNERS.

Ian, Niandi and a series of special guests will provide you with a series of articles from a male and female perspective on how cycling can benefit you as a runner.

Providing simple and clear information, we will write about our experiences, we will tell you about equipment, provide hints and tips and most importantly, we will provide you with a series of training plans that you can incorporate week by week, month by month to make you a better runner through cycling.

We know 3-types of runner:

  1. The runner who is injured
  2. The runner who is recovering from injury
  3. And thirdly, the runner who is about to be injured

Of course, we joke, but many of you will agree there is some real truth in the joke. Running is not bad for you, however, taken to extremes or if rushed, the impact of repetition can damage and break us. Sometimes a couple of easy days are all we need and then we are able to resume full training. But as often happens, a couple of easy days may not be enough and our eagerness to push and get back to full training causes us to take risks and then the inevitable happens, we break!

Don’t get us wrong. If you want to be a good runner, you need to run. However, we don’t always thing big miles, double day runs or running everyday is necessary. It’s all about balance and ultimately what level we are running at and what our objectives are. As we see it, runners fall into four distinct groups:

  • Group 1: Weight loss/ recreational runner
  • Group 2: Budding enthusiast
  • Group 3: Good age group runner
  • Group 4: Elite/ pro or top-level runner

We could break the groups down again but ultimately, for the purposes of explanation, these four groups will suffice.

Group 1 runner’s will run typically three times a week (maybe four) and they will run twice in the week and once at weekend. During the week they will train from 20-60min and at the weekend they will extend their running beyond an hour. Mileage will be 30-50 miles per week.

Group 2 are pretty dedicated and savvy accumulating three to four runs during the week and running once or twice at the weekend. Sunday will typically be a long run of 90+ min and on Tuesday and maybe Thursday they will add some speed or strength running. Mileage will be 50-75 miles per week.

Group 3 runner’s are very similar to group 2, however, they are running six days a week, they double up runs on a couple of days and at weekend they may do back-to-back longer runs. Mileage will hover around 80-miles per week.

Group 4 are pushing the envelope, they run twice a day, four to five days a week and run long, fast and high during the weekend. They typically hover around 100-miles per week.

We generalise above and of course we will be able to find extremes in all the scenarios. However, the four groups provide a picture. We think the risk of injury is high for all the groups and relatively equal. Why?

Well, group 1 for example will be less experienced (typically) and will have less run history and therefore although the time on feet is less, the percentage risk is high based on experience.

Group 4 by contrast will have loads of experience, they have been involved in sports for years and they are knowledgeable. Risk comes for them from volume and because they are often on the edge looking for small performance gains.

For us, this is where cycling for runners can come in!

Cycling provides a great low impact exercise that can be done in or outdoors, it can be very controlled and importantly it can be as easy or as hard as you like.

Yes, if you want to be a great runner, you need to run. BUT cycling can add to your running and not take away from it…

Just think, how many of you have said, ‘I am just popping out for an easy run!’

Is there such a thing as an ‘easy run?’

In terms of effort, yes! For sure, you can run slow, easy and controlled keeping your heart rate down, keeping your cadence light and just tick-over. But, you are still in contact with the ground. You are still ‘impacting’ with the surface beneath you and you are still passing your body weight through all your muscles, tendons and joints. Recovery runs are not about fitness, they are about loosening off and in many cases, we use recovery runs just to make us feel better. So, why not incorporate some cycling as active recovery?

Long runs can really impact on your body. Hours of running adapt you to the demands that will be placed on you when you race but sometimes we will run the risk of pushing too far and risking injury. Long bike rides on hilly terrain for example can be used to provide multiple hours of low impact exercise. Hours where you can push harder than running without the risk of damaging knees, muscles and ligaments. If incorporated with long runs, you have a great way to do back-to-back sessions while reducing impact injury risk.

Speed can damage our fragile bodies, particularly our muscles and tendons. However, run speed work incorporated with cycling speed work can stress the aerobic system and it will stretch us physically and mentally in new ways.

Hill reps provide great aerobic stress pushing us to our threshold limits, however, what goes up, must come down. Often, it is the running downhill that causes damage. Of course, we need to train for this in running, it’s important. However, cycling hill reps incorporated into a structured training plan can provide a great stimulus that will progress your fitness level and once again, the impact implications are low.

Finally, cycling can just be a blast. It’s a great way to head out and see a new place; arguably, we can cover more distance in less time on a bike. If nothing else, cycling may well just provide you with a well-earned break from running. Cycling will freshen your mind, it will freshen your body and I guarantee, your running will improve.

Part one of cycling for runners will be released on Wednesday October 1st and we will look at the basics to get you started:

  • The bike.
  • How to ensure you have a good fit.
  • Dos and Don’ts of cycling.
  • And we will list 5-points why cycling can make YOU a better runner.
Philipp Reiter Cycling

Philipp Reiter Cycling

To kick things off, Salomon International athlete, Philipp Reiter will also give us his thoughts on why cycling works for him as a trail, mountain and ultra runner.

Stay tuned.

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS for the support and backing


Check out SCOTT HERE


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