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  • Great post Susan. You mean ‘bricks’ aren’t called that because of the cement block like feeling your legs have when you exit the bike and start running? You just turned my whole world upside down. Also, you, and some other crazy friends, convinced me triathlon’s something worth trying. Just signed up yesterday for Trinona (http://www.trinona.com/ and @trinona), rated as Minnesota’s ‘Race of the Year.’ What are you doing June 10?

    1. AWESOME! Welcome! June 10, I’ll be racing Escape from Alcatraz…AND checking the results for Trinona to see how your first triathlon went! 🙂

      1. COngratz Scott, welcome to the world of Triathlon. How did your race go? hopefully you caught the bug. I will be completing both my first Half and Full Ironman triathlons this year. Can’t wait for them.

  • I completely agree that cycling is great for running (I’m also a multisport athlete – tri & du, so I’m biased myself). Although the bike uses slightly different muscles than the run, the overall strength of your legs will improve, which translates to better run performance.

    1. Totally agree iv been riding for four months about 10-20 miles 4 times s week fantastic makes you feel verry healthy and energetic. I also do it to fight anxiety works a treat,

  • Love this post! I picked up cycling when I hurt myself running and it definitely made me realize what an asset it can be to my overall strength and training.

  • Loved this! I have found a noticeable improvement in speed since I joined the chruch of swimbikerun. I give all credit to the biking.

    1. Don’t discount the swimming – it has many of the same benefits (active recovery, a low-impact workout, etc) that cycling offers! Spread the love around, Karen! 🙂

  • This post makes me happy! Cycling is where I go when running tries to break me in half, and it always heals me up and sends me back out.

  • Great post!! I recently started incorporating spin class into my training and have noticed it has improved my running preformance and decreased injuries. I would love to start riding outside more, but am still sheepish from a bike incident. At least I am starting somewhere!!

  • what do you guys think about a Spin class?
    similar enough or helpful at all?
    wondering if i should sprinkle one in w/ my marathon training this month…

    1. I highly recoomend it. I started doing spin 1x/week while traning for my most recent marathon and founf it very helpful. I took a little more weight off and the sprint portions of the class seem to help translate into improved foot turnover while running. Enjoy!

      1. I dont really like spin classes, I have given them the good ole college try but they are not for me. My reasoning is rather simple and I will list them for you guys (and gals). 1) Most are in a room with no circulation and about 20 people who are working out really really hard, imagine the smell gross!! 2) The goal of the class is not necessarly inline with your personal goal; example the class is about an hour long hard intense workout which is good if your a Crit racer or training for a Sprint or Olympic triathlon but rather pointless if your training for a Half or a Full Ironman triathlon. 3) As a result of the class being one hour long and high intensity one heart rate is usually through the roof (I did 4 or 5 Classes and my average heartrate was roughtly 209 WAY TOO HIGH, outdoors or on a trainer pushing really really hard on the bike my heartrate is about 185 MAX).
        These are just my opinons and only opinions. Take them for what they are worth and I hope they help.

  • Hey Susan, great post! It’s nice to be reminded of all the benefits of cross training.
    I have a question for you – biking seems to cause issues with my IT band, which makes running hurt, which makes both biking AND running difficult, and this is an issue for a triathlete, clearly! 🙂
    Any thoughts on what I’m doing wrong on the bike? It’s only my left leg that is having issues – I imagine I don’t quite have the right positioning or something?

      1. If I’m understanding you right, the cycling is causing the ITBS. If you aren’t cycling but just running, you don’t get the pain?
        If this is the case, I would take a look at your bike fit. If your seat is too high or too far back, that might be part of the problem. If you take your bike in to a shop to get a bike fit, they’ll be able to make adjustments to your seat, handlebars, etc, to minimize issues.
        Another thing I notice with runners who start cycling is there is an instinct to “mash” the pedals – I did this when I first started riding, too! When a cyclist pushes down on the pedal when the foot is at the top of the crank, instead of applying force all the way around the pedal (to keep a smooth pedal stroke), it’s incredibly inefficient and can set a person up for injury.
        Since this is an issue you’ve had before, I’d check with a doctor or physical therapist, to see if there are exercises you can do to strengthen the IT Band to complement your cycling.

        1. Thanks! I forgot to check back for a response until now … oops. 🙂 People on another forum had also thought it was a bike fit issue, so I will definitely be looking into that soon. Thank you for your thoughts!

          1. Esther,
            You might want to invest in a foam rolloer or a magic stick. These guys are great for rolling out muscles and tendons after a hard workout. I have had eally bad IT band issues when I started running, I was a road bike racer/cyclist for 6 years before I moved into triathlons. The two items mentioned above worked wonders for me as did morning yoga sessions and stretching 2x daily.
            Hope things get better for you.

          2. As Susan noted pedal mashing a great way to improve bike form is through single leg training. Unclip one leg and spin for 30sec-2min at a time then switch. Repeat several times and almost instantly you’ll see improvement in your dual leg power distribution.
            On the other note if your seat is too high it could cause hyper extension of your legs at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

      1. All excellent suggestions. You could also consider finding a Retul bike fitter in your state where the 3-D measurements are taken while pedaling on the bike, instead of in a static position. If you are riding long hours on the bike, the adjustments to your contact points (saddle setback, handlebar, pedal, stem, seat post, etc.) even if it’s millimeters…can mean a big difference in comfort, injury, or efficiency.

      2. Thank you! Have gotten some advice from a yoga friend as well. 🙂 It doesn’t seem to help once the pain is there, but is somewhat preventative…

  • That is an excellent article. It’s really good to know that biking is such a good alternate exercise. I like to make sure that my bike has no-more-flats in them, then I never have to worry about getting a flat tire. I think beginners could benefit by knowing that a bike can become a cheaper form of transportation. http://www.nutribuff.com/weight-loss/biking-for-transportation-and-weight-loss/ Instead of driving your car to a friends house who lives less than a mile away. Why not just start riding a bike to get there? There are also a lot of errands that you can get done with a bike.

  • Interesting. I usually bike a lot whenever I can. During the winter when it gets too cold for me to bike outside I go to the gym and use the bike machine. The machine gets boring after a little while so I run for a bit on the treadmill. a few days ago I ran for an hour an half and was surprised at the fact that I wasn’t getting tired compared to how I used to feel. I usually hate running and I never get tired of biking.

  • I wholeheartedly agree! I trained for a marathon and half-marathon last year using the FIRST program (3 days running, 2 cross-training) and started cycling 2 days a week. I PR’d in both races and avoided injury and burnout. I’m currently using a bike trainer inside for the winter in addition to training for my next marathon, and shooting for a Boston Qualifier. Cycling has made that goal reasonable 🙂

  • I LOVED THIS!!! Thanks for writing the great article Susan. I’m definitely going to start biking…swimming? Well, I don’t know how to swim, but you almost had me wanting to try….almost. 🙂

  • I SO agree here. I have tried being a runner in the past and it always caused me shin splints or knee problems, always something. This time at 51 years old I started for 3 months on a good stationary recumbent bike for before I ever tried running at all. Now in the last month I am gradually starting a combination of running/walking, and it is working really well – the muscles I got from cycling are helping me run and NO pain at all anywhere.

  • Susan,I totally agree with you about the cross training. I became a Triathlete last summer and really noticed how much better a runner I became. Plus, I felt in the greatest shape of my life at the age of 54! As my husband remarked, I think we found your new sport. I am a Tri junkie now.

  • I love this post *like everyone else!*
    I picked up cycling a few months after my first marathon. I wanted to try something else and learned that it’s true: Riding a bike really IS just like riding a bike. I hadn’t ridden in over 20 years and it wasn’t so bad. Then I picked up Tri and really got to understand how cycling and running play well together.
    p.s.: I love your bike names!

  • This is so true! I was just a runner for several years, then I got injured and had to go to physical therapy. Since I couldn’t run, I had to do something else so I took an adult swimming class and learned how to swim freestyle for exercise. Then my sister (who does Ironmans) talked me into doing a triathlon. I got a road bike and completed my first two sprint triathlons last summer. I was in better shape and injury free due to all the cross training!

  • Great post, Susan. A few years ago I had my best running year ever–completing my first two ultras. I give a good part of the credit to the fact that I was also cycling and swimming several days a week! It made me so fit (the hills in Cape Town where I was living also helped).

  • I’ve been cycling for about a year and a half and I love it! The tips for getting started with cycling are all great suggestions and I would also recommend riding on bike paths when starting out without the interference of cars before hitting the road. Learn how to shift, start, stop and turn comfortably before riding on the streets — especially if using clipless pedals.
    I started running in December and am debating on competing in a duathlon later this year. It’s good to know that the sport I love can help me become a better runner.

  • What a great post! I totally concur… I spent all of last spring/summer on my bike prepping for an epic ride from Seattle to Vancouver, BC. Once that was done, I switched gears (ha!) back to running and was AMAZED at how much faster I had gotten! Without doing any significant running in months! I’m currently training for my first marathon and looking forward to biking the Seattle to Vancouver and the Seattle to Portland this summer 🙂

  • Yep! It totally works! When I was running a lot training for the Hood to Coast Relay, I was also training for a 55 mile charity ride at the same time. I noticed that the month of long bike rides every weekend improved my running so much. I was faster, I was stronger, I recovered faster and I could run longer distances. It was awesome!

  • If it wasn’t for cycling, I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere with running! (I’d still rate my running as terrible, but it’s better than my swimming.)

  • I am a bit concerned. I am a sprinter but love cycling, however I am constantly told cycling is bad for running, I have heard it shortens the calfs? and that you just build muscles that you do not need? help? confused, mixed advice !

  • I am greatful for this. You are so encouraging! I broke my tibia and fibula in a race six months ago and am just beginning to cycle because I am not yet strong enough to run again. I have been severely depressed, missing my road time and feeling like a total lump for not being active. If I can learn how to love cycling, it will help me heal so that I can run again some day.

  • I find that cycling massively helps my running. Last year I was commutting 30 mile round trips and running around 20-25 miles a week. I was consistently finishing in the first 3rd of any races I ran, this year I’ve rarely cycled and similar running is seeing me struggle to finish in the first half. Non of the cycling was at an overly high intensity, but the morning commutes were done in a fasted state and I lost a significant amount of weight.
    I’ve recently made the deision to get back on the bike and see if it closes the gap on last years performances. Obviously the 8-10 hours a week spent on the bike would probably be better served running as my main focus is running, but ultimately I can’t run my commute and it’s about maximising the time available too me rather than focussing on specialised training if that makes sense.

  • Your best exercise routine should include weight lifting 2 or 3 times a week and some form of good cardio exercise. It’s best to do a combo of lower intensity cardio such as biking or fast walking mixed with high intensity cardio such as jump roping and running for example. Reason being you can’t due high intensity cardio everyday you need some rest days from that. You can do lower intensity cardio more frequently which allows you to maintain your cardio fitness with way less stress on the body. Personally I do a combo of running, biking, jump roping, and weight lifting. I weight lift 2 to 3 times a week. I alternate between lower intensity cardio with high intensity cardio based on how I feel and sorenes.

  • I know that this is an old article but I had to comment. A couple years ago I had hit a running plateau, I’m was in my mid-40’s, I was slooooow, and getting frustrated. A friend suggested biking, I tried it and I was hooked. I backed off of running, maybe going out a couple miles a few times a week. Then I gave up running completely for about a month or so. One day I just decided to go out and run with no time or distance in mind. I figured that I’d start with my 3 mile loop and then add on a shorter loop if I felt up to it or walk part of it if I was hurting. I ran 4 that day, it was my best run ever. I felt awesome, I had shaved about a full minute off my mile. I still had positive splits. I probably could have run 2 more miles but I felt so good, I wanted to end on a good note. I posted about it on an active running board and was met with crickets. I swear runners don’t want to hear about biking. It’s crazy. When a couple people finally commented, it wasn’t very positive about biking. I love doing both, but it’s annoying being in both worlds.

  • Number 5 is so simple yet we try to dig so deep when looking for happiness that we forget to just look into ourselves and ask what brings us joy. Thanks for reminding us

  • Lots of good education and advice here. I still prefer running but i have recently acquired a bicycle and am starting to use it to mix things up for transportation such as trips to the post office and it does save time.

  • This is the biggest load of rubbish I have read. If your a runner stay off the bike If you want to know more email me I’m working on a Doctorate and have done so much research on this

    1. I’d be interested in knowing what your research has shown about biking and running. What’s your email address?

  • The tips are useful for me, I like doing exercise, but I always ride exercise bike at home, I think I should go out to do exercise sometimes, thanks

  • I’m a runner who occasionally cycles at the weekends. I’ve found that the cycling increases the leg strength which really helps to keep you keep going in the latter stages of longer races, e.g. Half Marathons/Marathons. There’s also a lot of talk of different muscles in cycling, when in face the spring off part of the running stride is the same action as the pedal push part on a bike.

  • For any skill level of cyclist: Try mountain biking over rougher terrain than is easy for you, so you get handling skills you think you don’t need on the road…. if you are faced with a road riding situation, like something bumps you or an obstacle, it will become an accident/injury, unless you are over-prepared and are able to handle it, and can “pedal through it (a good strategy is to be thinking to pedal if something happens, not avoid/fear),” rather than spazzing out and crashing yourself in what you think is accident avoidance (YOU cause the crash, by your fear and improper reaction), but is actually accident causation (at least 90% of cycling crashes are because of mental errors/fear, rather than something that was doomed to get you). As far as running and cycling, yeah, cycling will make you a hell of a runner… I had never ran over 4 miles (15 years ago), went from walk to run program in the fall to winning overall in a boston qualifier in the spring, my first and last marathon (I prefer my hilly 6 mile training loop which had the same elevation gain in each run as the “hilly” marathon I did), in 6 months with no requisite year of running before starting marathon training (Oh, and I weight 180# and regularly get called “Hercules,” and references to my size when at bike/running races, so no more excuses people, it’s all about consistency, and no my VO2 is not world class, something like 65). If you really want leg turnover, do 10 seconds of high cadence, form concious work a few times each run, up to 5-10 x per run, don’t run hard on that run, focus on teaching muscle memory. Just go do your thing 🙂 (fake name because I don’t want to brag, just facts to help someone)

  • I am a Maraton runner, my preparation is more on cycling using my XC MTB. The best benefits I get from cycling is that i don’t feel knee pain after the a long Run.

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