CYCLING for RUNNERS – ‘Why can’t runners cycle quickly?’

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What’s the difference in terms of fitness between running and cycling? Why doesn’t running necessarily make you a great cyclist or vice versa? They are both endurance activities, both aerobic and both use your legs, but what’s the difference?

Marc Laithwaite from the Endurance Coach asks the question:

‘Why can’t runners cycle quickly?’

The answer to some extent lies in the way we test cyclists and runners. People who visit us for VO2 testing will follow a set protocol, based on whether it’s a run or bike test. The run test starts by running on a treadmill at a slow speed and every minute the speed gets faster until they either jump off or they are ‘fired off’ the back of the treadmill. As the treadmill gets quicker, they have to move their legs faster. Their ‘cadence’ is increased to allow them to stay on the treadmill, but the ‘resistance’ doesn’t really change. When you are running, the resistance is pretty constant, you have to lift the weight of your leg and push your body weight forwards, not a great deal changes as the treadmill gets faster, you just need to move more quickly.

The cyling test is different. We start by asking people to cycle at 90 revolutions per minute and they must maintain that throughout the test (unlike running the cadence / leg speed does not change, it stays the same). Each minute we increase the resistance and it gets harder to turn the pedals, so unlike the run test, the resistance is increasing throughout the test. The test ends when they are no longer able to maintain the 90 revolutions per minute. In some ways, it’s almost like doing a strength exercise such as the ‘leg press’ and as each minute passes, we add a little more weight until they can’t keep going.

What can we draw from the above?

There is an element of strength involved in cycling that isn’t required for running. You can call it strength or ‘muscular endurance’ (call it whatever you like), but the basic fact is that you have to work against high levels of resistance during cycling that don’t apply to running.

What about gears and cadence?

Ok, so at this point you might be thinking there’s a way round this. Rather than being strong, you can use an easier gear and pedal faster! Yes, to come extent you can and we see this a lot with runners who take up cycling, they prefer to spin easier gears rather than pushing big gears at lower cadences. However, there’s only so far you can take this aproach. If you increase your cadence from 90 to 100 to go faster, what happens after that? Do you increase to 110? 120? 130!!??

Here’s our basic observations about the problems often encountered by runners who take up cycling:

1. They lack the basic strength and struggle most frequently on flat courses, where the ability to push ‘big gears’ counts the most.

2. This can generally be identified by a simple 5 second maximal sprint test, which results in a poor power output.

3. Runners tend to favour spinning easier gears and may well favour a ‘compact’ or ‘triple’ chainset.

4. On longer, gradual climbs, runners tend to come into their own and can perform relatively well (long gradual hills are the best courses and flat ‘time trial’ courses are the worst in terms of race performance).

5. Shorter / steeper hills on rolling courses may also be an issue as they lack the ‘short term’ power to maintain speed.

6. When runners complete cycle testing sessions we commonly hear this: “My heart and lungs felt fine, it’s just my legs, I couldn’t turn the pedals, there was too much resistance”

7. It’s more common in females than males and it’s more common as age increases.

8. When people enter Ironman triathlon, they make a presumption that riding long and slow to build endurance is the way forwards. After all, Ironman is all about endurance right? Maybe not.

Here’s the simple truth. If you want to be an ‘UBER’ biker for non-drafting triathlon or cycle time trials, you really need to be able to generate a high power output and push big gears. Either that or you need to pick your courses very well to suit your strengths. There’s a lot of confusion and poor advice regarding the best cycling cadence, which has lead to confusion regarding the physical requirements and training for a fast bike time. People get told every day that you should ‘spin a higher cadence’ when cycling, which is misleading and leads to misunderstanding. In many cases, it makes people slower cyclists and fails to tackle their prime weakness.

On that bombshell… lets discuss cycle cadence in more detail.

There’s a lot of confusion and poor advice regarding the best cycling cadence, which has lead to confusion regarding the physical requirements and training for a fast bike time. People get told every day that you should ‘spin a higher cadence’ when cycling, which is misleading and leads to misunderstanding. In many cases, it makes people slower cyclists and fails to tackle their prime weakness. Let’s discuss a little further and clarify some of the misleading advice.

1. There are different kinds of cycle racing. In triathlon events, the cycle stage (unless you’re elite) is a time trial. It’s you against the clock and there’s no drafting allowed. Time trials require a high power output which is consistent. There’s no repeated accelerations or ‘attacks’, it’s just you, riding at a constant power output.

2. Cycle road racing, crit racing or elite triathlon is not a time trial, it’s a bunch ride. It’s much easier to ride in the draft of the bunch and riders will therefore cycle at higher cadences in easier gears, whilst still maintaining their position in the group. Bunch racing will often include changes in pace, accelerations, attacks and chasing. It’s impossible to accelerate well, if you’re pushing a ‘big gear’, for that reason, bunch racing tends to favour higher cadences and easier gears.

3. Triathletes who ride with cyclists are often told ‘it’s better and more eficient to ride at higher cadences’. That is true for cyclists who ride in bunch races, so whilst the advice is correct for their specific circumstances, it doesn’t mean it’s right for triathletes.

4. Pretty much all studies on the subject show that slower cadences use less oxygen, results in lower heart rate and require less fuel than higher cadences. Many cyclists who ride ‘time trials’ rather than road races favour big gears and slower cadences. Former British champion Nik Bowdler use a 77 tooth chain ring and rode at 65rpm. Chrissie Wellington followed the same approach, riding a much lower cadence as she found it reduced her breathing and heart rate significantly.

Cadence V Gearing

Cadence and gearing are not the same thing. If someone is told to spin at a high cadence up hills, we presume that we should choose a very easy gear. If we’re told to ride with a slower cadence, we associate that with a big gear. You will often see pro riders spinning a higher cadence up hills, don’t be fooled into thinking they are using a compact chainset or a very easy gear, they are strong enough to spin a larger gear. Simply changing into a very easy gear to allow you to spin, will result in you going slowly. The reason you are forced to use an easy gear is a basic lack of ability to produce a high force, so you are not tackling the problem at hand.

Take away tips:

1. You need to use bigger gears at some point if you want to ride faster

2. To use bigger gears you need to have the basic leg strength (often lacking in runners, moreso ladies)

3. Slower cadences are more efficient for time trials and faster cadences are better for changes of pace on technical courses and bunch races

4. As a rider, you should be capable of adapting your cadence to suit the race

5. Don’t just start pushing huge gears in an attempt to tackle the problem, be wary of injury

6. Don’t keep reaching for the gear shifter every time you hit the smallest incline, this isn’t helping

7. If strength is very poor, you may want to consider a simple strength routine in the gym as a basic start point

 

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – Put the Spring into your training!

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It has been a while, intentionally so. Over the latter months of 2014 and the early months of 2015 you will hopefully have been using cycling to provide a break from a very structured running plan. Cycling in addition to running allows you to build endurance but more importantly you can add some intensity through well planned and structured faster sessions with reduced impact.

Our last article, no 7 called March On provided a series of sessions that could be incorporated within your training plan that would lead you into Spring as a stronger and healthier runner.

Spring is here and June will provide new challenges and new opportunities.

Lets have a recap. If you have followed March On, you will have incorporated 2 ‘faster’ cycling sessions into your week (typically Monday and Wednesday) and at the weekend you may have replaced a longer run with a MAF bike session. These cycling session should have been weaved into a carefully thought out run plan. Yes folks, you still need to keep running!

Although many of you may well have tipped your racing toes in an event, June does often signify a change. The racing calendar suddenly grows and a multitude of races are available week-in and week-out. This I hope comes as no surprise? If you have been clever about your training, you will have decided some time ago what races are important in 2015 and you will have structured your plan to make sure that you are in the best shape possible when they come around.

One thing is for sure, as target races loom, the need to be ‘specific’ becomes greater. However, the more focused we become, the greater the risk of injury becomes. It’s so easy to be ‘too’ focused. We all run (no pun intended) a knife-edge between being in supreme health and broken with injury. Be careful!

This is where cycling comes! We discussed in Article 3 (HERE) how cycling can be used to replace ‘recovery’ runs. Although a 20-40min run may well seem like a good idea, does running and adding additional impact really enhance recovery? For me, an opportunity to use non-weight bearing exercise like cycling really does provide a recovery option that allows you to ‘spin’ your legs, flush out tightness and toxins and all in a way that adds little or no stress to already sore and tight muscles. If in doubt, replace Monday and Wednesday runs with an easy 30-60 minutes of spinning (90+ cadence) and see if these sessions enhance your run legs. It’s worth noting as we have mentioned previously, cycling can tighten your hamstrings slightly due to the repeated action (in a shorter circle of motion), particularly when compared to running. So please make sure you allow 10-15 minutes after cycling for stretching.

Another factor to consider now is the endurance element that comes from cycling. Depending on your chosen distance to race (50k, 80k, 100k, 100 miles or maybe more?) you may well be daunted with the distance that you need to cover and more importantly, you may well be thinking, ‘how do I train for something that is going to take me 5, 10, 15 or 24 plus hours?’

 

If you are coming from a marathon running background, you will be used to the scenario of making your long run 3.5 hours or approximately 21/22 miles. If you try to apply this scenario proportionately to ultra running you are always going to be struggling. That is not to say that you shouldn’t have some big days of running/ hiking (time on feet) but the reality is that for most of us, we may well break!

Step in cycling!

Lets be clear. Cycling is not here to replace running. If you want to be a good runner (ultra runner) you need to run, you need to be specific and you need to practice. However, cycling can be incorporated to provide you with some great aerobic activity for multiple hours without the added and increased risk from continuous pounding of your own body weight through your knees, muscles and joints.

If in doubt take a look at what Francois d’Haene tweeted in 2014. This was after victory at UTMF, 2nd at the Skyrunning World Championships and a stunning UTMB victory.

Francois D'Haene

Back-to-back runs are a popular training method for the aspiring and experienced runner. It’s a great way of breaking a long distance down; lets say you have a target race of 100k. You may set yourself a key target training weekend for 2 or 3 days. For example, a typical ‘long’ training weekend may look like 30k day 1, 30k day 2 and 40k day 3. It’s a great way to adapt the body, the mind and it provides a wonderful opportunity to practice nutrition, hydration and fine-tune your clothing. But you can’t do this every weekend… okay, yes you can BUT at some point it will all go pear shaped. Your body will say enough! What follows will be a period of inactivity, rest or maybe worse, injury.

Cycling sessions can incorporate an element of faster cycling. Maybe you’d like to work the hills a little? But be careful. You are using different muscle groups. Here are some stats from a 2 hour ride. This ride was all about keeping it nice and easy on an out-and-back ride.

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We all know that consistency is key in any training plan. Training is not about one run, one session; it’s about all the combined sessions you have done that make up a whole. So think about incorporating cycling to replace some of your long runs.

You can still do a back-to-back session: 5 hours on the bike and the next day a 4-hour run. It’s a perfect combination. Think about it, 9 hours increasing your fitness and aerobic activity but only 4 hours of impact.

If you only have time to run long once a week then look at incorporating a 3 week on and 1 week off scenario. So for example, your long runs may look like this:

  • Week 1 – 3 hours
  • Week 2 – 3 hours 45 min
  • Week 3 – 4 hours 30min

On week 4, forget a long run and add a 6-hour bike. You still get the aerobic benefits but once again, you rest those tired muscles and joints and use them in a different way.

There are no hard and fast rules here.

This post is about making you look at your training from a different perspective. To make you realise that just because you are an ultra runner, it doesn’t mean that you need to be an ultra runner everyday!

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Summary

  • Have a target planned in your diary so that you can be specific with your planning and work back from your key date.
  • Don’t neglect run speed work and hill training.
  • Use cycling in the week as ‘recovery’ from harder running sessions (speed and hills).
  • Incorporate long bike rides in conjunction with your long run training. For example:
  1. Do one weekend in four that utilises long bike rides instead of long running.
  2. Mix and match – Long bike on Saturday with long run on Sunday.
  3. Back-to-Back Mix – Long run, long bike and a long run makes a great 3-day session.
  • Don’t be worried about thinking out of the box. If you are feeling tired, sore or just need some inspiration – jump on the bike instead or running. It’s all exercise and as long as you are training, you are getting fitter. Just make sure you listen to your body and add rest as and when appropriate.
  • Rest – it is a training discipline. Don’t think of it as weakness. Planned rest allows you and your body to adapt. It’s crucial.
  • Use a HRM and GPS to monitor your training and efforts.

Enjoy the process. One thing that is great about sport is the ability to enjoy the outdoors. Cycling or running, take both hands, grab it and embrace it. Just think, you can cover considerably more ground on a bike.

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – Article 7 March On!

HEADER_Suunto_ScottMarch is upon us and with it a new series of training sessions. In February we gave you a series of targets. Four sessions that ideally would be undertaken indoors on a turbo-trainer.

In summary, the sessions were as follows HERE

Catch up on previous articles HERE

In addition to the above four sessions you hopefully maintained your weekly runs and used cycling (very easy) as an alternative to a ‘recovery run.’

In March we are Marching On with our training and we want to step up once again and provide additional stimulus to progress your fitness and strength. You may be wondering, how do I fit all these sessions in?

Here is a template for a typical training week in March:

  1. Monday – Indoor cycling session of 20-40 minutes (based on fitness and experience.) Keep gearing very light and ‘spin’ your legs thinking about a 90+ cadence and maintaining souplesse.
  2. Tuesday – Running at 75% of max HR. Distance or time based on experience and targets.
  3. Wednesday – Indoor cycling session as per article 7 training plan. This will progress in effort for week 1, week 2, week 3 and week 4.
  4. Thursday – As Tuesday.
  5. Friday – Rest day.
  6. Saturday – Long outdoor bike session using ‘MAFF’ formula for 90 to 180-minutes. This will progress as outlined in this article 7 plan for week 1, week 2, week 3 and week 4.
  7. Sunday – Long run based on experience and target race distance.

MARCH TRAINING SESSIONS

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March sessions fall into three distinct categories:

Recovery, Intensity and Endurance.

For simplicity, we have scheduled the sessions to take place on a Monday (recovery), Wednesday (intensity) and Saturday (endurance). Of course it is possible to move these sessions around to suit your available time but please aim to keep to the structure we have provided here.

The week explained:

  • Monday follows a busy weekend of training and therefore is ideally a rest day or recovery day. As we have stated on many occasions, does a recovery run really exist? We use cycling for recovery as it is a non-weight bearing exercise and therefore you are able to spin your legs, elevate your heart rate a little and all without the impact of running. Monday’s session will ideally be on the road or an indoor trainer. You will use light gears, ‘spin’ your legs and look for a cadence of 90+. Time will vary based on your fitness and target goals. However, we recommend anything between 20 to 40-minutes.
  • Wednesday provides intensity and is an alternative to a faster running session. Over 4-weeks the sessions will build on February’s session and progress your fitness and strength.
  • Saturday is a long run equivalent and is ideally placed to provide two back-to-back sessions in March. You will cycle long on Saturday (outdoors) and then run long on Sunday. This provides a great endurance stimulus and reduces the impact that would come from two back-to-back run sessions. We are introducing the ‘MAFF’ formula for this session.

Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Use a heart rate monitor. It’s great to get the feedback and monitor your training.
  • Have water handy – you will need it.
  • If training indoors use a fan or train near an open window.
  • Keep your pedalling technique smooth, don’t fight the bike.

WEEK 1

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery 

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

1-hour set and intervals

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up * please see blow for a refresher on 5,4,3,2,1

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 4-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 1-minute. At the end of 1-minute drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 4min/ 1min for seven more times (total 8 repetitions)

Cool down with 5 x 1-minutes dropping down a gear for each minute.

Saturday : 60-minute session

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This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence. Make sure you use a quality HRM/ GPS for this session.

For example, the below session is 1-hour working on a MAFF of 130-140 bpm with warm up and cool down.

1-hour set

MAFF is based on the ‘Maffetone’ Formula. You can read two articles, HERE and HERE about Maffetone.

Maffetone formula is calculated as follows:

Subtract your age from 180.

Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness and health profile: 

A: If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.

B: If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.

C: If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same. 

D: If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

For example, if you are thirty years old and fit into category (B), you get the following: 

180–30=150. Then 150–5=145 beats per minute (bpm).

If it is difficult to decide which of two groups best fits you, choose the group or outcome that results in the lower heart rate. In athletes who are taking medication that may affect their heart rate, those who wear a pacemaker, or those who have special circumstances not discussed here, further individualization with the help of a healthcare practitioner or other specialist familiar with your circumstance and knowledgeable in endurance sports may be necessary.

Two situations may be exceptions to the above calculations:

The 180 Formula may need to be further individualized for people over the age of sixty-five. For some of these athletes, up to 10 beats may have to be added for those in category (d) in the 180 Formula, and depending on individual levels of fitness and health. This does not mean 10 should automatically be added, but that an honest self-assessment is important.

For athletes sixteen years of age and under, the formula is not applicable; rather, a heart rate of 165 may be best. 

Once a maximum aerobic heart rate is found, a training range from this heart rate to 10 beats below could be used as a training range. For example, if an athlete’s maximum aerobic heart rate were determined to be 155, that person’s aerobic training zone would be 145 to 155 bpm. However, the more training at 155, the quicker an optimal aerobic base will be developed.

WEEK 2

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up *

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 3-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 2-minutes. At the end of 2-minutes drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 3min/ 2min for five more times (total 6 repetitions)

Cool down with a reverse 5,4,3,2,1

Saturday : 90-minute session

This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence.

WEEK 3

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up *

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 3-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 2-minutes. At the end of 2-minutes drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 3min/ 2min for seven more times (total 8 repetitions)

Cool down with 5 x 1-minutes dropping down a gear for each minute.

Saturday : 2-hour session

This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence.

WEEK 4

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up *

40-minutes at 75% of maximum heart rate with a 90-cadence

Cool down with 5 x 1-minutes dropping down a gear for each minute.

Saturday : 2-hour 30-minute session 

This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence.

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NOTES:

March is designed to enhance your fitness in multiple ways and maximize your fitness. Combining three key sessions on a bike: recovery, intensity and endurance you will have a great fitness base for April when we take training to the next level.

It’s important that running and cycling work hand-in-hand with each other during March. So don’t try to push the envelope with running too hard or too long. If in doubt, use the MAFF formula for your running.

MAFF will require discipline and you will almost certainly feel that training is too easy. It’s a common feeling for many that are new the formula but stick with it and see how you progress.

It’s imperative that you use a heart rate monitor (we recommend Suunto) for the sessions in March. You need to work hard for the intensity sessions but you also need to ensure that the recovery and MAFF sessions are easy. Most people don’t do hard sessions hard enough and make easy sessions too hard. What you end up with is the middle ground and a lack of progression.

As April and May arrive, you need to build on the above and balance them. You may find that a faster cycling session will start to be replaced with a faster run session. If so, that’s fine. Incorporate cycling as recovery. However, we encourage that you still use long bike rides in conjunction with long and eventually longer runs.

At the end of May we will be back with a plan for June. Things will all change in as running takes a greater importance. You will incorporate one faster run session (Tuesday), one hill session (Thursday) and maintain a long bike. Until then, good luck!

Make easy – easy!

And make hard – hard!

Enjoy Marching On…

Glossary:

*5,4,3,2,1

If you are not used to cycle gearing, the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 will help you. Depending on your experience, strength, fitness and experience. You may do this session on your ‘small’ cog at the front of the bike or the ‘large’ cog. I do my sessions on the ‘52’ cog.

Start as follows:

52×25 for 5 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence

52×23 for 4 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence

52×21 for 3 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence

52×19 for 2 minutes aiming for 90 cadence

52×17 for 1 minute aiming for 90 cadence

By the time you reach the final minute you will be completely warm, your hear rate will have slowly elevated and the gearing will be ‘challenging’ but sustainable. Your heart rate will be in the 70-75% zone of max hear rate.

Join us on STRAVA

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS and SUUNTO for the support and backing

Check out SCOTT HERE

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Check out SUUNTO HERE

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – Article 6 Indoor Intensity

 

Cycling for Runners HEADER2

A new year can be a daunting thing… the excitement and buzz of Christmas is over and suddenly 12-months lie ahead. Many of you may well have already planned early season targets or even objectives for the whole year. However, as I know only too well, for every person who has planned key targets, there will be another person who has planned nothing. So, before you do anything, take some time out and decide on your targets for the coming year. Please remember, these targets do not need to be racing targets. They could be FKT’s, personal projects or even an expedition. Once you have dates in a diary, you will find structuring your training so much easier. It provides perspective!

Did December go well for you?

December can be a tough month. It’s so easy to be distracted and miss training but don’t worry. If you maintained 3-4 sessions per week you are going to be in a great place to build your fitness in 2015.

It goes without saying that if you weren’t injured you will have been out running, be that on the trails or the treadmill. We hope that you managed to include a couple of cycling sessions? Ideally you will have done one easy session spinning the legs to help recovery from running and one ‘faster’ session either on the road or on an indoor trainer to help build stamina and strength

Niandi has been doing several indoor sessions as recovery and she wrote about them HERE

Me? Well you know what, the winter arrived in the UK, the ice came and so did the snow. For me it was perfect. I love running in the cold and snowy conditions. However, cycling outdoors was not an option. Thank goodness for the indoor trainer (Turbo Trainer) and I applied the session we outlined in Article 5 (Here) and I also cycled easy for 30 minutes with a high cadence for recovery.

Here is a summary of the session:

Warm up for 10-minutes ‘spinning’ your legs in an ‘easy’ gear. This is all about getting blood flowing, loosening stiff and/ or tight muscles and preparing for the session ahead.

Session: Perform 2 minutes at 80% of maximum heart rate (keeping cadence on or around 90) – You will need to use your cycling gears to add resistance and provide the necessary difficulty level for you elevate your heart rate. Monitor your HRM with a quality item – We use Suunto Ambit 3 Peak and Ambit 2 units

Recover for 2-minute ‘spinning’ your legs as in the warm up.

Repeat the 2-minute session with 2-minute recovery for an additional 5-times (making a total of 6 in week-1). *In week 2 do 7-repetitions, in week 3 do 8-repetitions and in week 4 do 10-repetitions.

I hit the reps building up the 2-minute intervals over a 4-week period and it felt great.

If you are anything like me, you will not want to loose those gains made over December and January so in February we are going to build with four sessions that you can do indoors or outdoors. 

THE SESSIONS

If you don’t already know, training indoors on a bike is hard; I love it! You have no escape, no rest and your cadence, HRM, legs and sweat rate do not lie. Did I mention sweat! Boy do I sweat indoors. Even with a window open and a fan on me I am like a running tap with water pouring out of me. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated particularly during and after all sessions.

This month we have four sessions for you, one for each week and most of them include the same warm up and warm down. I call this: 5,4,3,2,1.

How does it work?

Your bike gearing will usually have two cogs at the front, for simplicity, we will call this the big ring and the small ring. Typically, a racing bike will have a 52/39 set up. The numbers refer to teeth on the cog. The ‘39’ makes gearing easier in comparison to the ’52.’

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At the back you will have a selection of gears, if your bike is relatively new it will probably have 10-cogs.

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The rear cogs start small (harder gear) and get larger (easier gear) and step up/ down progressively so that you can maintain an ‘ideal’ cadence (90) irrespective of the terrain. Your rear gearing may look like this:

12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25

 The above numbers refer to ‘teeth’ on the rear cogs.

Shimano Dura Ace  press camp 2012 - Kortrijk/Belgium..For example, 39×23 may be used on a steep climb when you need an easier gear or by comparison, if you are riding down a steep hill with the wind behind you, you may use 52×12.

If you are not used to cycle gearing, the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 will help you.

Depending on your experience, strength, fitness and experience. You may do this session on your small ring (easier) at the front of the bike or the big ring (harder.). I do my sessions on the ‘52’ cog. I am an ex cyclist with experience and bike strength and therefore adapted to pushing harder gears. Remember, you are using cycling to enhance running!

Start as follows:

  • 52*x25 for 5 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence
  • 52*x23 for 4 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence
  • 52*x21 for 3 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence
  • 52*x19 for 2 minutes aiming for 90 cadence
  • 52*x17 for 1 minute aiming for 90 cadence

 *Note, if you wanted this gearing to be easier you would replace the ’52’ (big ring) with say a ’39’ (small ring) for example.

By the time you reach the final minute you will be completely warm, your heart rate will have slowly elevated and the gearing will be ‘challenging’ but sustainable. Your heart rate will be in the 70-75% zone of max hear rate.

Now the sessions:

The sessions below can be done on the road or on an indoor trainer. It goes without saying that for such specific sessions, an indoor trainer would be preferable as you can control the whole session. If you do try the sessions outside, you will need a good long stretch of flat road. Undulating roads would make this session impossible.

Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Use a heart rate monitor. It’s great to get the feedback. I have included my hear rate profiles recorded via my Suunto for the sessions below.
  • Have water handy – you will need it.
  • If training indoors use a fan or train near an open window.
  • Keep your pedalling technique smooth, don’t fight the bike.

Week 1: 40-minute session

©iancorless.com_Scott_Turbo-7662

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up

*Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 5 minutes. You can expect your heart rate to rise as you maintain the effort.

Drop back down to 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 and repeat the warm up – this loosens the legs and adds souplesse.

Repeat the above set* but in the final minute push really hard to maximal effort. At the end of the final minute you will have a good idea of your maximum hear rate (MHR).

Cool down with 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 but in reverse finishing with just 1 minute in the easiest gear. This works as a great cool down.

Week 1 heart rate data - Ian Corless

Week 1 heart rate data – Ian Corless

Week 2: 1-hour session

©iancorless.com_Scott_Turbo-7635

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up

*Stay in the final gear you used for the 1-minute in the warm up and maintain a 90+ cadence for 30 minutes building your effort throughout the session.

Cool down with 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 but in reverse finishing with just 1 minute in the easiest gear. This works as a great cool down.

Week 2 heart rate data - Ian Corless

Week 2 heart rate data – Ian Corless

Week 3: 40-minute session

©iancorless.com_Scott_Turbo-7675

4, 3, 2, 1 warm up (we miss the 5-min section this time)

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 4-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 1-minute. At the end of 1-minute drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 4min/ 1min for four more times (total five repetitions)

Cool down with 5-minutes spinning in your start gear, for me, this would be 52×25

Week 3 heart rate data - Ian Corless

Week 3 heart rate data – Ian Corless

Week 4: 1-hour session

©iancorless.com_Scott_Turbo-7659

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 4-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 1-minute. At the end of 1-minute drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 4min/ 1min for five more times (total six repetitions)

Cool down with 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 but in reverse finishing with just 1 minute in the easiest gear. This works as a great cool down.

Week 4 heart rate data - Ian Corless

Week 4 heart rate data – Ian Corless

NOTE: The above cycling sessions would replace a faster run session in each week and I would still recommend one or even maybe two other cycle sessions per week for recovery. On the recovery sessions just use an easy gear and ‘spin’ with 90+ cadence. Make sure you drink if training indoors, it gets really hot!

©iancorless.com_Scott_Turbo-7619

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – Girl What Cycles (3)

©iancorless.com_CarrMill-7280

“I love running cross country….

On a track, I feel like a hamster.”- Robin Williams

I’ve always felt the same as Robin Williams about the indoor trainer. To me, training indoors on a bicycle is just like running on a track or treadmill. Yet, like track and the treadmill, cycling indoors can provide a huge advantage to your training if used in a structured way.

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First and foremost when the weather is horrendous (like it is in the UK at the moment) you can get a good workout indoors in a warm, safe and controlled environment. I am new to cycling and although not inexperienced, braving winter conditions on a bike would be a step too far for me at the moment. This is where the home trainer becomes a useful piece of equipment.

©iancorless.com_Scott-7365

I can still get my fix for the outdoors with my running… to be honest, I love running in cold temperatures but I also incorporate one treadmill session which allows for faster running (hills or intervals) with some fast-paced loud music which is difficult to do outside.

screenshot_160

In a research project at John Moores University, researchers found that when participants exercised to faster-paced music they “chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort”. As well as enhancing performance, music lowers the perception of effort. It dulls or masks some of the pain associated with training. We know from scanning the brain that when athletes are played loud upbeat music there is an increase in activity in the ascending reticular activating system.

For all these reasons I have also been using the home trainer to get in some recovery training after racing or long run sessions. At the beginning of December I completed a 72km trail race at night in sub-zero temperatures. Conditions were very muddy, icy in some parts, with a head-on wind to contend with and as it was at night with poor visibility, the going was tough. Also I forgot to mention I flew out to Lyon on the Saturday, picked up my number, took a shuttle to the start in St Etienne, started the race at midnight, ran to Lyon through the night and flew back to London on Sunday, took a coach, another train ….All a bit crazy and exhausting to say the least. Over the next 2 days following the race, I suffered DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). This meant no running for a few days. I had a fun run planned in Paris the following weekend so I decided to use cycling as “active” recovery. Like running on the treadmill you can quickly get hot very quickly on an indoor trainer. I set myself up near an open window to allow for some ventilation. If you were doing a hard session, an indoor fan would also be a good idea.

Recovery is all about spinning my legs, easing away muscle soreness, getting the blood flowing and I suppose not having too much structure. However, I find indoor training easier if I have a plan to follow and music!

©iancorless.com_Scott-7329

Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Use your own bicycle. I am using my SCOTT bike fixed to my indoor trainer via the rear wheel. This is perfect as I do not compromise on my cycling position which I have worked hard to make perfect.

©iancorless.com_Scott-7360

  • Use your normal cycling shoes and pedals

©iancorless.com_Scott-7316

Suunto Ambit 2

  • Have water available
  • Use a fan or train near an open window
  • Have a towel handy – you will sweat
  • Use music or a TV for stimulus

Need some free music to help you with your indoor session? Try HERE for 50minutes of audio. I personally recommend that you make your own playlist that is specific for your session. Using something like iTunes makes this really easy. Alternatively, a company like Audiofuel provides specific music mixes with or without coaching.

Session 1:

Length : 44 min        

  • Warm-Up : 10min in a very easy gear allowing me to ‘spin’ at a cadence of 90
  • Main Set: 24min alternating 3min at 90 cadence and 3min at 110 cadence. Gearing should be easy and light to allow your legs to spin around. The faster cadence session of 110 allows me to concentrate on cycling technique using the up and down of the pedal stroke and adds souplesse to my legs.
  • Cool Down: 10min easy gear at a cadence of 90

Session 2:

Length: 35min

  • Warm-up: 10min in a very easy gear spinning at 90 cadence
  • Main set: 15min broken down into 30sec at 90 cadence and 30sec at 120 cadence
  • Cool Down: 10min very easy gear at 90 cadence

©iancorless.com_Scott-7351

Initially you will find your legs struggling to get used to using different muscle groups in this recovery work-out. The aim is not to PUSH the gears or have resistance. We don’t want to stress sore muscles. These two sessions are all about spinning legs with an easy gear on the bike and allowing the muscles to recover. This is what is so great about cycling… you can exercise in a non weight bearing way. However, the increased cadence sessions of 110 and 120 will allow you to raise your heart rate.

I shall be doing a turbo session at least once a week as active recovery in my build up to my next long distance run, Paris Mantes 50km towards the end of January. This will be followed by a week off running but 2 turbo sessions before a trip to Costa Rica and the opportunity to run The Coastal Challenge stage race.

Happy New Year and remember, cycling is great for running if used sensibly.

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – Article 4 Winter Cycling

Cycling for Runners HEADER2

If you are living in Europe we won’t need to tell you that winter has arrived. Temperatures are dropping, the days are shorter, road conditions are unpredictable at times and the urge to get out and do anything (particularly cycling) can be diminished.

Don’t be disheartened though. Remember we are using cycling as a way to enhance our running and at this stage we are very much using cycling as active recovery or a method of maintain fitness while injured.

We all get injured at some point in our running. Salomon athlete, Jorge Maravilla posted this just the other day:

“I’m guilty of constantly thriving for the runners high, but lately my body has denied me. Despite an unwelcomed setback, today I found joy on two wheels.”

Jorge Maravilla

We keep saying this, but cycling is just great all around exercise. Jorge is lucky… he seems to have some nice weather in San Francisco. If we Europeans wish to continue cycling in winter we have two options:

  • Purchase some great all-weather clothing.
  • Go indoors.

Both options above are valid and we combine both in our training.

Cycling outdoors in winter

The old saying, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather; just bad clothing’ really is applicable for cycling outdoors in winter. However, let’s get one thing straight, no all singing and all dancing Gore-Tex this or Gore-Tex that will protect you from ice on the road and dangerous conditions. Our first tip is assess conditions and be sensible… if in doubt, stay indoors.

Essential kit for winter cycling:

  • Hat ideally with ear covers that will fit under your helmet
  • Buff or seamless neckwear product for around your neck
  • Glasses
  • Merino base layer
  • Long-sleeve jacket with a windproof chest panel
  • Gloves – depending on conditions you may well need options. For example: a Merino liner glove with thicker warmer/ windproof glove for cold and icy winds. Alternatively you may well need a glove that performs in wet conditions.
  • Long tights – we recommend those with in-built braces as they provide added protection around the kidneys. Also consider tights with foot loops. These loops will stop them riding up. Tights are available with or without at seat pad. We purchase without seat pad so we can wear our normal cycling shots underneath.
  • Merino socks or similar
  • Shoe covers to help block out the wind, rain and colder temperatures
  • Waterproof jacket that can fold up

If you have all of the above you are set for winter cycling. Remember, cycling in winter is much colder than running primarily due to the wind chill. Don’t skimp on layers. In particular, your hands and feet are the most vulnerable areas.

We recommend cycling at all times (even in the day) with a flashing small led light at the front of your bike and a flashing red at the rear. It just adds a little more presence on the road and makes you more visible. It goes without saying that if you are heading out at night, use the best front and rear lights you can afford.

Eye contact is a key element of cycling, especially in winter. When approaching junctions or any areas where cars can impede and impact on your travel, look for eye contact. Lock in on them. Stare at them and acknowledge that they have seen you.

As we mentioned in article 3, when cycling use light gears and aim for 90-cadence. Remember, we are using cycling to either extend aerobic activity or as an alternative to a recovery run at this stage. As we progress with our articles we will discuss how to adapt your cycling sessions so that they can become specific in extended your fitness and/ or building strength.

 

Cycling indoors in winter

Lets face it, heading outdoors in the cold and potentially wet conditions on a bicycle is not something that you may not wish to do. It’s understandable. It’s not for all of us, especially if your runs are wet, muddy and cold. Step in indoor cycling.

We love indoor cycling…

We know; it’s the equivalent of running on a treadmill. However, just like a treadmill, indoor cycling can provide you with a very controlled and specific environment.

  • Focused and quality sessions
  • Improved cycling technique
  • Time efficiency
  • Accurate testing

Our first hot tip is don’t use the bikes at your local gym unless you have no other option… why?

Well, gym bikes are just so far removed from your ‘own’ bike. Remember in our first couple of articles how we emphasized how important it is to get the correct bike, the correct fit, the correct saddle and so on… why would you then go the gym, get on a generic bike and then disregard everything you have strived to get right.

The way forward is to purchase a ‘Turbo Trainer.’

elite crono fluid

Many styles of turbo trainer exist and you can pay as little or as much as your budget allows. We would recommend a middle of the road trainer costing in the region of £100-150 to be the best of both worlds. We also recommend a ‘fluid-resistance’ trainer as you use your bicycle gears to create more or less resistance. For clarification, ‘magnet-resistance’ units often work by adding a lever to the handlebars and you then add/ reduce resistance by moving the lever. We not keen on these though as the resistance seems to be linear and the feel is nothing like riding on the road.

One more feature that we think is worth mentioning is a spring- loaded resistance unit. Indoor trainers can really impact on the longevity of a tyre; a spring-loaded unit will provide a longer life.

How do they work?

A turbo trainer usually consists of an ‘A’ frame and a metal drum. Quite simply, you attach the rear of your bicycle to the frame and place the rear wheel on the drum. This drum provides resistance to the rear wheel and creates a similar sensation to riding on the road. You can add more or less resistance to make sessions as hard or as easy as you require. Tip: The front of your bicycle will feel as though it’s pointing downhill due to the added height of the turbo trainer. Therefore raise your front wheel to make your bicycle level. You can use anything to do this but many companies now sell specific products to do the job for you.

Hints ‘n’ tips

Image copyright - highergearchicago.com

Image copyright – highergearchicago.com

  • Use a piece of old carpet or purchase a turbo training matt so that you provide some protection between you, your bicycle and the floor. This is really important if you are using a room in your home. (3)
  • Have some towels handy to protect your bike and to use to mop sweat from your face (4)
  • Use a fan to cool you down (2)
  • Have water available (1)
  • Raise the front wheel (5)
  • Always use the same tyre pressure and resistance on the rear wheel. This will make sessions controllable and comparable.
  • Use a HRM such as a Suunto Ambit and/ or rear wheel cadence counter
  • Use music or a dvd to provide stimulus. We personally create music playlists based on the session we are doing… rocking out on your indoor trainer to AC/DC makes speed and interval work easy! (6)

Indoor cycling generates plenty of heat and even when cycling easy, you will still sweat. Be prepared.

For the first month of indoor cycling you can apply the principles as laid out in Article 3 of Cycling for Runners – keep gearing light and easy, aim for a 90-cadence and use a HRM to ensure that you are not working harder than you should be. Double what would have been your run time; so, if you were doing a 30-minute easy run, do a 60-min easy cycle.

 *****

In article 5 of CYCLING for RUNNERS we will discuss spicing up your outdoor and indoor cycling sessions with one session for outdoors and one session for indoors and how to combine this with your recovery sessions.

Enjoy the seasons, enjoy the change in the weather and importantly use cycling to enhance your running.

Be safe…!

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – Article 1 Bike Fit and Bike Size

HEADER2

Cycling is a great addition to your run training plan and if done correctly, you will see your fitness, strength, speed and recovery improve. Before you do anything, you need a bike and importantly a bike that s the right size and one that fits you…

Get this wrong and any benefits from cycling will be eroded away with potential injury and discomfort.

Bike fitting and bike size are two different things. Don’t confuse them. Before you can do one, you must do the other, so, getting the correct size bike is imperative. This is not complicated. For the purposes of all our articles we are referring to road cycling and as such all our reference points will relate to a road bike.

When purchasing a bike, geometry is important, this relates to the angles that are used when constructing the frame. In simple terms you have comfort geometry and race geometry. The picture below shows the difference.

96942_soalce_disc_endurance_geometry_original_1

Comfort geometry will be a little easier on your lower back and as the name suggests, you may well be more comfortable on longer rides. Race geometry is longer and more aggressive. You don’t need to be a racer for race geometry. The choice is yours.

Niandi’s note: Male and female specific bikes are available, however, many ladies purchase a male bike. So, what is the difference? Many ladies have longer legs and a shorter torso; so, a female specific bike can be a good consideration. In real terms, this will mean the bike will have a shorter top tube (this affects the reach to the bars) and the seat tube angle will be steeper. This all combines to more comfort. In addition, many brands also make female bikes in smaller sizes (smaller then male sizes) but with classic male geometry. Ladies, I am pretty sure you know your morphology and what you want, so choose what is right for you. 

96802_solace_disc_womens_img_original_1

Scott Sports say: SCOTT aims high when it comes to the comfort and ergonomics of a product such as the Solace. Therefore a women’s specific geometry for the Solace Contessa lineup has been developed. A 10mm shorter toptube combined with a 10mm longer headtube take into account the different proportions of women and offer a perfect fit for female road cyclists.

As a cyclist, you connect to the bike via five key and integral points:

  • Saddle
  • Left pedal
  • Right Pedal
  • Left side of the handlebar
  • Right side of the handlebar

A good bike retailer is integral to ensuring that you purchase the correct size bike. For example, we have two friends, A & B. Friend A is the same height as friend B… lets say, 5ft 9”. Friend A rides a 52cm bike therefore friend B assumes that he/she will ride a 52cm bike. Is that correct?

NO!

Why you may ask? Bike sizing is determined by your inside leg (and many other aspects) but ultimately; inside leg is a great starting point. At 5ft 9”, friend A has an inside leg of 32” and he/ she rides a 52cm bike whereas friend B has a 31” inside leg and therefore rides a 50cm bike.

If in doubt, it is always better to have a bicycle that is a little too small than too large as later when you come to bike fitting you can make the necessary adjustments.

Your aim is to have a connection with the bike so that you almost don’t feel the bike. I like to call this, being ‘at one’ with the bike. When you have the size and the fit tweaked to your needs, cycling is a wonderful thing.

Remember, a bike shop is interested in selling bikes. They want YOU to purchase a bike, so, although you will rely on the knowledge of professionals in the store, we can’t emphasize enough to find a retailer with a good reputation. SALE bikes are always a great way to get a quality bike at a good price but be careful… don’t let a great deal make you make the wrong decision.

Use this diagram below to gauge some key measurements in regard to what will be the correct size bike for you.

Bike Fit

Completing the above sheet will provide some measurements that you can then apply in regard to narrowing down what will be the correct bike size for you.

Here are two spec sheets provided by SCOTT, firstly male:

Scott Male Geometry

and female:

Scott Female Geometry

Having knowledge and information prior to attending a bike store will not also make your search more focused but it will also ensure that the bike store staff realise they are dealing with someone who knows what he or she wants.

Lets assume you have your bike; it’s the correct size, now it needs to fit you!

Scott CR1

Bike Fitting

Bike fitting is a precise art and can often be tweaked and tweaked before one finds the perfect decision. Companies exist who perform ‘bike fitting’ and this may be something you’d like to consider? It does depend though on your budget.

If you are going to fit yourself to your bike here is a simple guide.

A bike has three key points:

  • Saddle
  • Handlebars
  • Pedals

SADDLE:

Just because your bike came with a saddle, it does not mean it’s the correct saddle. Ladies in particular will agree here. Try and try and find the perfect saddle for you. It’s a time investment but well worth it and your bum will thank you for it too.

Niandi’s note: Please consider that a male saddle may well suit a woman and woman’s saddle may well suit a man.

Once you have the perfect saddle for you, you need to position the saddle with three key factors considered:

  • Saddle height
  • Saddle tilt
  • Saddle fore and aft position

Saddle height is straightforward really but we see so many cyclists with a saddle too high or too low. Get this wrong and you not only loose power but you risk injury.

Sit on your saddle and we recommend you take the weight of one leg by placing your foot on a stool or something similar. You need your pelvis to be level. This is important! Lower your free leg and place your heel on the pedal. Drop the pedal with your heel on it to the 6 ‘o’ clock position. Now slide your foot back with the ball of your foot over the pedal. What are you looking for? Well, you should ideally have a slight bend in your knee. If not adjust the saddle height up or down as appropriate. Make sure you have your cycling shoes on with the cleat attached (more on that later). You don’t want your hips to rock from left to right when cycling, so, fix the saddle in what you consider to be ideal position, go for a spin and then check. Spend time on this to get it right.

Saddle tilt may be adjusted on all saddles. Many consider a ‘level’ saddle to be optimum but why? For sure it will work for some, however, we are all unique. Personally, both Niandi and myself tilt our saddles up just ever so slightly but there is no exact science on this, you must go with what works for you. If your saddle points down too much, you tend to feel like your sliding off and this adds pressure to your arms and hands.

Niandi’s note: Ladies you may find that tilting your saddle will reduce or increase pressure on sensitive areas.

Fore & aft allows the saddle to move on its rails towards the handlebars or towards the back of the bike. This position is often rarely considered in new or novice cyclists. Height is the main consideration and then tilt and fore/aft are only usually looked at if persistent discomfort continues.

Place your feet on the pedals place your legs/ pedals at 9 and 3 on the clock. If someone photographs you from the side or if you can look in a mirror, you should look for the crank arm (this holds the pedal) being parallel to the ground and your kneecap should be over the pedal.

Again, adjusting fore and aft is a very personal thing; however look out for too much weight being placed on the handlebars. If you are getting sore hands, sore arms and tightness in the neck you are probably too far forward. However, if you are too far back, you may well feel you are reaching too far for the handlebars. Tweak position for comfort.

Niandi’s note: Ladies, if you don’t have a specific ladies bike with a shorter top tube, you may find moving your saddle forward will make things more comfortable for you?

HANDLEBARS:

Handlebars come in all shapes and sizes. If you are new to cycling the complexities of the simple handlebar may well just be completely over your head, however, a few key points should be looked out for. The handlebar is held secure in a stem. A stem comes in various lengths/angles and this controls how near or how far the handlebars are to you and so therefore, the correct stem is crucial in getting the correct position.

When riding, you will move around the handlebars, for example placing your hands in the flat middle section is popular when climbing. When you are cruising in and around other traffic, hands on the brake hoods are popular. If you are going flat out and looking for speed, you will probably be on the drops (the bendy section) and looking to become more aerodynamic.

As with saddles, many purchase a bike and will just ride with the handlebars and stem provided. This may well be okay, but for example, if you are on the drops can you still reach the brake leavers and brake without becoming a contortionist?

Niandi’s note: Ladies our hands are smaller typically than a man, therefore we will need a handlebar with less reach.

Handlebars come in different widths, height and depth. So, ladies will usually need a smaller handlebar and gents, you will need something wider. If in doubt with handlebar width, use the width of your armpits/shoulders as a guide.

Getting the correct handlebar/stem combination can make a difference! As a general rule of thumb, place your hands on the bars and look for a slight bend in the elbows. As you move positions, your body position will also change and aerodynamics come into play.

You are looking for comfort. Not only in your favourite position but also when climbing, when sprinting, when standing out of the saddle or when powering into a headwind.

You will want to rotate the bars up and down to get the best position. Handlebars rotated up are easier on your back whereas handlebars rotated down allow for a more aerodynamic position.

Stems are available in different heights, lengths and angles. It is a minefield and ultimately you may have to see how the stem on your bike works for you and see if it is comfortable. You can tweak this up and down. Road cyclist usually prefer the stem below saddle height, however, if you are inexperienced or suffer with lower back pain, you may prefer the stem above seat height. Length and angle can only be altered either by purchasing different stems (not practical), or purchasing an adjustable stem that will allow all these movements to be made or you seek the advice of a professional.

Niandi’s note: Ladies you can potentially use a shorter stem if you have a small torso or shorter arm reach.

PEDALS:

The pedal holds the foot in place and pretty much everyone these days uses specific cycling shoes that will have a cleat on the bottom that fits into the pedal. This system actually was invented as on off spin from ski binding and improved cycle efficiency and power.

You can purchase pretty much any cycle shoe, of course we recommend Scott. On the bottom of the shoe will be a series of holes that allows you to attach your chosen cleat.

Pedals and cleats work together, so; if you use LOOK pedals you need LOOK cleats and so on.

THIS IS IMPORTANT.

Positioning your cleat on your shoe and getting the ideal position is arguably the most important aspect of fitting in relation to cycling and running.

Get this wrong and your knee will be out of line and a potential injury is waiting to happen. To put this in perspective, look at this from a running perspective… are you neutral, a pronator or supinator?

Cleats, like saddles are positioned on the shoe: fore/aft and side to side.

Other than getting a professional fit, fitting cleats are very much trial and error. In principal, the cleat should generally be behind the ball of the foot or on the ball of the foot. It’s personal and down to biomechanics.

Ultimately you don’t want any strain on your muscles. Achilles and calf tenderness are sure signs that you have the position wrong and you will need to move the cleat towards your heel. Tweak and tweak the position until it feels neutral.

Once you have this position worked out, you will need to ensure that the side-to-side position is correct as this controls alignment of the knee. I don’t need to explain here how important this is.

As a general rule, you want our knee over your toes when pedalling. If your knee is to the left or the right of the foot when pedalling then move the cleat appropriately.

Again, we are all individual and tweaking this position for you and your own comfort is crucial to successful cycling.

The rotation of the cleat is important. Do you stand with your feet pointing forward (north to south) or do you stand with your left toes at 10 (north west) and your right toes at 2 (north east)? Positioning your cleats with this rotation compensated for is another key aspect. Many modern day cleat/pedal combinations allow for ‘float’, which for many has been a lifesaver. This ‘float’ allows the foot; knee and leg to move in a natural way when pedalling and this can avoid injury. We recommend if you are new to cycling purchasing a pedal and cleat combination that allows for float.

Finally, the crank, which holds the pedal, will typically be 170mm long. For very specific adjustments you can get shorter or longer cranks (165, 170, 172.5 and 175), If a crank is too long it will feel hard to push a gear, if it is too short it will feel odd and you will lack power. Generally 170 cranks are ideal unless you are short or tall. Keep in mind that if you purchase a complete bike, the crank should be appropriate for the frame size.

Niandi’s note: Ladies, if you don’t have a specific ladies bike and you have a short inseam, shorter cranks may be beneficial.

SUMMARY:

Solace Ladies BikeGetting the correct bike in the correct size and then spending time on how it fits you is just as important as purchasing the correct run shoes. The plus side of a bike is that you can tweak, adjust and customize the position for you and your needs. So, the most important first decision is purchasing the correct sized bike.

Once you have the correct bike, you can spend time on fitting.

Fitting is crucial to long-term cycling pleasure. Remember, we are looking at cycling as an addition to your running and therefore, we don’t want cycling to injure your running…

The above points may sound complicated and problematic, however, a little time and patience is all you need. If in doubt, seek professional advice.

First and foremost, ask around; find a really good bike shop with a great reputation. Get this first step right and many other aspects will fall into place.

Enjoy the journey.

Still Question if CYCLING is good for RUNNERS? Look at this tweet by 2014 UTMF and UTMB champion, Francois D’Haene:

Francois Tweet

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – The Introduction

 

HEADER2

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.

Join us on STRAVA

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS for the support and backing

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