CYCLING for RUNNERS – Article 3 Lets Get Started!

 

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In article 2 of CYCLING for RUNNERS we gave you several bullet points in why cycling can benefit your running: RECOVERY, CADENCE, LONG SESSIONS and STRENGTH. As we move through our articles we will address these issues in more depth and we will provide sessions and plans to help you maximize your time whilst training.

It’s time to start cycling!

Before you hop on board lets first just tick off some key issues.

  • You have the correct size bike.
  • You have fitted yourself to your bike taking a good look at saddle height, saddle fore and aft and your reach to the handlebars.
  • You have attached cleats to your cycle shoes and you have carefully adjusted them so that you cycle with a natural motion.

If we have a tick to all of the above, we need to quickly look at cycling apparel and what you will need.

Short Sleeve Cycle Jersey with either half-zip or full-length zip to help control your temperature whilst cycling. The jersey should have 2/3 pockets on the rear to hold essentials such as food, inner tube, tools, and jacket.

Scott RC Mens Short Sleeve - Cycling for Runners

Cycling Shorts with pad for that all needed comfort. Many different varieties exist and it all comes down to personal taste. Ladies, female specific products do exist.

Scott RC Mens Shorts - Cycling for RunnersCycling Socks – get short ones. It may sound vain but cycling with long socks looks ridiculous! (Unless you use compression)

Scott RC Tech sock - Cycling for RunnersCycling shoes

Scott Shoes - Cycling for RunnersCycling Mitts/ Gloves – these are really important. They work in two ways, they add some additional padding when holding the bars and help avoid numb hands but more importantly, if you come off your bike, the first thing you do is put your hands out… yes, you have guessed it! No skin on your hand and gravel stuck in your palm is not fun! Believe us.

Scott Liner Glove - Cycling for Runners

Helmet – essential! Don’t even contemplate going outside without one. Make sure it fits properly.

Scott Helmet - Cycling for RunnersGlasses – debris is all around us, on a bike you are moving fast so don’t take risks. Get some protection.

Scott Glasses - Cycling for Runners Wind/ Waterproof Jacket

Scott Waterproof Jacket - Cycling for RunnersArm Warmers – these are a great addition to a s/s top and allow you to control your temperature whilst out on a ride.

Scott AS Arm Warmer - Cycling for RunnersLeg Warmers – as above, they convert your shorts into full length tights and therefore provide two easy options.

  • Scott Legwarmer - Cycling for Runners Spare inner tubes (2)
  • Tyre levers (these remove the tyre so you can replace an inner tube should you get a puncture.
  • Small essential tool kit
  •  Pump
  •  Water bottles

Okay, so the above list provides an immediate kit list that will get you on the road and training. The above is based around milder temperatures. Just like running, as temperatures drop, the need for more specific and warmer apparel will be required. We will address some of the options in article 5.

 

YOUR FIRST TRAINING SESSION (Session-1)

We are assuming here that you are new to cycling. You may have cycled in the past but it has been a while or maybe you have never cycled whilst running?

The good news is that cycling has relatively no impact. Hey, that is one of the reasons why we are incorporating it into our run training right? Like anything new, we start slow and we build up. At first, we recommend that you replace one or two run sessions per week with bike sessions. Initially, we will not be looking at speed, strength or endurance. Cycling will be used as recovery or an alternative to an easy run. From our perspective, it makes sense to us that your cycling days are Monday, Wednesday or Saturday.

Why?

  • On Sunday, most people do a long run, so, spinning out your legs on Monday is a great way to recover and use cycling.
  • Tuesday’s and Thursday’s often include speed or strength running, so, splitting those sessions up with a spin on Wednesday is an ideal recovery tool but if required will still allow you to work on your endurance.
  • Saturday is the day before your long run (typically); so, at this stage a spin out on your bike will feed those endorphins, loosen your legs off and prepare you for Sunday without adding too much stress or soreness.

Adding cycling at this stage in your training, we recommend you keep a few pointers in mind:

  1. Maintain your long run.
  2. Maintain one run session that involves speed, fartlek or hill work.
  3. Work on a cycling cadence of 90 rpm
  4. Keep cycle gearing light so that you can ‘spin’ your legs
  5. Be road savvy – roads are far more dangerous for cyclists than runners

So, in SESSION-1 we are going to replace a ‘recovery run’ or two easy/ recovery runs with cycling. Typically, a recovery run or easy run will be anything between 20-50 minutes or 3-5 miles. Of course, we are all different and as we mentioned in our introduction, we see runners falling into 4-groups, so, you will need to tweak and adjust your training for your level.

As a general rule, we double our run minute mile pace to gain a similar effect on the bike. So, if you are running 7-minute miles, we would say 14-minutes on the bike.

Quite simply, SESSION-1 is about replacing those 3-5 mile runs with a bike ride of double time.

Scenario 1

I run 3 recovery miles in 30 minutes – replace your ‘easy’ run with 60-minutes of cycling keeping gearing light and aiming for a cadence of 90-rpm. Keep the roads flat and hills to a minimum.

Scenario 2

My recovery 3-mile recovery runs take 21minutes – replace your run with a 40-45 minute easy cycle. Again, keep the gearing light, cadence around 90-rpm and road conditions easy.

What do we mean by ‘light gearing?’

Your bicycle comes with gears. Typically two chain rings at the front and ten at the rear. Gears allow you to make pedalling easier or harder. In simple terms, if you can turn a ‘hard’ gear with 90-rpm you will go considerably faster than turning an ‘easy’ gear with 90-rpm. However, terrain, weather and so many other factors come into play. So, when you ride up hill you need an easier gear to enable you to get up the hill. The steeper the hill, the easier the gear required. By contrast, going down a step hill you will be able to be in the hardest gear possible and still spin your legs at 90+ rpm.

For the purposes of replacing recovery/easy runs with cycling, we want to ensure that the gearing used is light so that you can ‘spin your legs.’ This will mean being on the ‘smaller’ chain ring at the front and one of the ‘larger’ chain rings at the rear. Play around with gears and work on that optimum cadence of 90 rpm. Pedal in circles! As you progress with cycling, you will be able to develop your pedalling technique by pedalling at a slow cadence in a higher gear, but this is for later!

TIP: Cycling is not just pushing with the pedal but also about pulling. You push down and as you reach the bottom of the pedal stroke you need to drop your heal, pull back and then lift. By doing this, you will not only generate more power with each revolution of the pedal but you will also fire muscles that get neglected when running. If you are struggling to grasp the technique, we recommend to clients that they should pretend they are wiping dog dirt off the bottom of the shoe… can you imagine it? Remember, pedal in circles, use all 360 degrees of the pedal stroke.

See this You Tube clip by the ©GlobalCyclingNetwork

HEART RATE or RPE

Heart rate and monitoring heart rate while exercising has been used for years as a way of keeping training honest. It’s important at this stage that your ‘cycle effort’ should feel no harder than your ‘run effort.’ If in doubt, use a HRM to monitor your easy run HRM and cycling HRM. Please be aware that you can expect a slightly different HR on a bike in relation to running. A drift of 5bpm =/- is normal, but you will need to keep an eye on this. We are all unique. We use Suunto Ambit with HR monitors.

Suunto Ambit 3 Peak HR side view

If a HRM intimidates you, use RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion). RPE is a great way to monitor your effort based on your own personal experiences as an athlete. I use a scale of 1-10. 1 being asleep, 10 being passed out on the finish line exhausted. For the purposes of a recovery run or cycle, I would be looking at an RPE of 4 or 5.

NOTE

There is no magic formula to doing a great bike ride and at this stage of CYCLING for RUNNERS; you should embrace the bike as a break. Something new. An adventure that may well lead to something new and as we keep saying; it will definitely make you a better runner!

We recommend you apply SESSION-1 for 1-month cycling once or twice a week to allow adaptation to take place.

In Article 4 we will discuss cycling indoors and using either a Spin Bike at the gym or using a Turbo Trainer in your home.

Article 5 will provide you with SESSION-2 and we will discuss winter apparel.

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – The Introduction

 

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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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CYCLING for RUNNERS PAGE HERE

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