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  1. #1
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    Does running help cycling?

    I was recently told that running or cross training in running does not help improve your cycling. My wife and I both ran Cross Country/Track in college and H.S. Now we both just turned 30 and started biking about 2 years ago. We are starting to do some duathlons. We were told that to improve on the bike we would need to stop running and focus entirely on the bike. My personal goals are to become a better cyclist and improve in duathlons. This year I plan to enter some TT's and eventually (maybe) start bike racing. I still enjoy running, but not nearly as much as cycling.

    What's your thoughts???

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by running red dog
    I was recently told that running or cross training in running does not help improve your cycling. My wife and I both ran Cross Country/Track in college and H.S. Now we both just turned 30 and started biking about 2 years ago. We are starting to do some duathlons. We were told that to improve on the bike we would need to stop running and focus entirely on the bike. My personal goals are to become a better cyclist and improve in duathlons. This year I plan to enter some TT's and eventually (maybe) start bike racing. I still enjoy running, but not nearly as much as cycling.

    What's your thoughts???
    Who told you to stop running to improve on the bike? I'm calling BS on this one... I've competed in cross for the last few years. This last year I was not able to run at all, but could ride. My riding was solid, but when it came time for cross races, I sucked because I didn't have the running background. How the hell can you be a duathalete if you don't run??? Makes no freaking sense...

    BTW, I am training for cycling, duathons, and ultimately a marathon this year... I run 3 days and ride 3 days a week.

  3. #3
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    my first thought....Learn how to quickly sniff out b/s when someone is shoveling it...
    I started out as a runner, picked up cycling in my 30's to get a break from the inevitable aches of running, and now cycle/trail run (4500miles/800miles). I started focusing on cycling hillclimb tt years back but after a few years could no longer lower my times on local climbs. My trail runs regularly included a lunch run with 500ft of elevation gain. One winter we increased the run up to 1000ft. The following spring I crushed every cycling climb pr with no change to my cycling regimen. The more difficult my runs became the better my cycling performance became. I was probably doing alot more LT work running than cycling and that work translates to an improvement in most any endurance activity.
    Over the last 4 years I went from a midpack finisher to a podium position in my age group in every hillclimb tt I entered. All the while still running trails.
    I found alternating workouts was best for me. I think it gives sport specific muscles a little more time to recover.
    If you like to run....run

  4. #4
    The Riddler
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    Yeah, I don't know. Sure stressing your aerobic system and operating at threshold will improve those systems. But specificity is specificity. Bike riding wins bike races. I'd imagine if you spent your time focusing on hill workouts ON the bike, you'd be even better. Just my .02.
    "Those that know endurance, are they who call the world brother."--Charles Dickens

  5. #5
    No team-cest unless 8+!
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    Quote Originally Posted by running red dog
    I was recently told that running or cross training in running does not help improve your cycling. My wife and I both ran Cross Country/Track in college and H.S. Now we both just turned 30 and started biking about 2 years ago. We are starting to do some duathlons. We were told that to improve on the bike we would need to stop running and focus entirely on the bike. My personal goals are to become a better cyclist and improve in duathlons. This year I plan to enter some TT's and eventually (maybe) start bike racing. I still enjoy running, but not nearly as much as cycling.

    What's your thoughts???
    I'm no expert on duathletes (or even cycling... haha)... but looking at the different physiques, the two are completely different. Runners are TINY, cyclists are a mix of being tiny + ridiculously strong.

    I'm on my collegiate cycling team-- I occasionally ride with some of the XC runners who like to ride bikes. I do mop the floor with most of them (as in have no problem dropping them going uphill, downhill, flat)... Running, based on their stats (posted on the track team's website), i'm pretty sure they can mop the floor with me.

    my point being is the muscles used are completely different. hence the different physiques between the two sports.

    now your friend, i'm sure, read that somewhere on the internet. While there is truth to it, i'm willing to bet that it is only applicable in the highest levels of the two sports.

    Either way, unless you're something like a cat2+, or someone who runs 35min 10k's, I don't see it hurting at all.

  6. #6
    Lemur-ing
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    Running sure as hell helps cycling. That said, I'm a sprinter in track and field and I haven't rode for a while a few months back but I started track training again after an injury. when I rode again, I definitely could ride harder and faster on the bike. Few months back when I was injured and was mainly riding, I could ride around 23-25mph on my own. Now, I can hit 26 and even touch 27mph for a fair bit.

    BUT, the converse is not as beneficial IMHO. I rode a fair bit while I was injured but when I got back to track training, I had some trouble doing intervals and the like incluing some basic fitness circuit workouts. I could not really last the full duration of the workouts. I guess this is because cycling is really low impact and when I started track again, it's a lot of impact, so, as fit as I was on the bike (albeit not very fit), it was definitely going to be a struggle to complete high impact workouts(high impact on the legs) which were relatively not that hard.

    Now, as I'm slowly getting my form and re-activating my fast twitch for track, I ride mainly for recovery rides and on certain days, I do some endurance workouts on the bike instead of run. I am fitter then my fellow teammates aerobically I guess partly due to my bike work as well and partly due to the fact that I have better endurance then they do. (Fellow sprinters of course).

    Overall, of course, if your main goal is to be a better rider, then ride more. If you wanna be a better runner, run more. But, you can run to improve on the bike should you want to do this or should you enjoy running.
    Quote Originally Posted by tconrady
    If I can get some more tomorrow.... I thought it'd grow on me but I'm not feelin' it....wait..
    Allez United!

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  7. #7
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    I agree that if you want to concentrate on a specific sport then the bulk of your training should be in that discipline. However, in my case I think hillclimb running specifically assisted my hillclimb cycling. My runs are usually around 85% of my max hr with a duration of 1-1.5hrs. I maintain that avg hr going up as well as down the hill. I simply don't have any cycling climbs of that duration where I can maintain my hr that high. Attempting to maintain it beyond a climb becomes a "race" effort that I can't hold or recover from.

  8. #8
    attaque tous le temp
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    from what ive been told/gather, running is fine to mix into your workouts early in the season or just for fun when you want.

    but its diff muscles and more aerobic stress than riding.

    to do alot of running won't get you faster, but its not going to make you slower (unless you are doing running intervals instead of bike intervals)

  9. #9
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    Keep doing it.
    Will it help? Yes. BUT, there is a curve where it stops helping as much.
    Different range of motion, different conditioning for your muscles. Trust me, when I go out for a run I feel every ounce of weight that I've put on my quads that isn't working to the fullest. It's not pleasant. However, you DO get gains in muscle fitness from running, in terms of lactate tolerance, cardiovascular work and all that great stuff, so you do get stronger running despite it being a different discipline with a different range of motion. Also, it's actually absolutely vital, IMHO, that you keep on running, as muscle-bearing activity keeps your bones dense and strong. If you don't do much weight-bearing, your bones get weaker and more brittle, and that's just not fun when you crash...
    However, the difference between being able to run say, a marathon, and running a half-marathon would be negligible in terms of cycling, probably. Once you get beyond the initial gain it's a land of minimizing returns. And if you run enough, it would take away from your cycling which would, surprise, slow down your cycling.

    Keep on cross-training.

    -estone2
    "It's hard to tell the poison from the cure, so enjoy the disease."
    -Mohair_Chair

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all of the replies. I kind of thought that it was BS, but I wanted a 2nd opinion on this. Right now I'm running 3 days a week and cycling 5-6 days a week. My hard workouts are on the bike as I am more focused on improving my cycling.

    Thanks again.
    If there are more thoughts, keep 'em comming!

  11. #11
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    I just read an article on bike training and it said that every bicyclist (bar injuries) should incorporate a running program as it will also make them a stronger cyclist. It gave a sample training program and it said 1-2 days a week running but it also said weight training is good for cyclists, leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls, squats, lunges, dead lifts.

    When I run, I run around the inside of the fence of a baseball field. Running on the grass is easier on the knees.

    I don't know how well running builds up the leg muscles unless you are working on sprinting but it does a better job for the cardio/heart than biking (IMO).
    Last edited by lawrence; 02-11-2007 at 12:48 PM.

  12. #12
    PJB
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    When I was training for cross , I was running 2-3 times a week for 30 min a pop. At first it made my legs feel heavy, but after a few weeks I was stronger and could push some bigger gears, and as the season got closer I scaled back the running and was definitely faster on the bike.
    Ride till it hurts... then ride some more

  13. #13
    I coulda did that myself
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    I run for 30 minutes 1 or 2 times per week and ride the other days. I don't think running helps much with my cycling but it doesn't hurt it either. Running adds some variety to my workouts and going on uneven trails helps build some core strength, especially obliques. I enjoy both for different reasons.

  14. #14
    Lemur-ing
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    allons-y,

    doing a lot of running won't make you faster? I totally disagree but from a personal experience as I've stated, it sure as heck made me faster and stronger on the bike. And, I was doing track intervals (200m intervals, fast 150m sprints etc).

    Maybe it's because I'm a sprinter so I do get more power as well through track training and such, get faster on the bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by estone2
    Keep doing it.
    Will it help? Yes. BUT, there is a curve where it stops helping as much.
    Different range of motion, different conditioning for your muscles. Trust me, when I go out for a run I feel every ounce of weight that I've put on my quads that isn't working to the fullest. It's not pleasant. However, you DO get gains in muscle fitness from running, in terms of lactate tolerance, cardiovascular work and all that great stuff, so you do get stronger running despite it being a different discipline with a different range of motion. Also, it's actually absolutely vital, IMHO, that you keep on running, as muscle-bearing activity keeps your bones dense and strong. If you don't do much weight-bearing, your bones get weaker and more brittle, and that's just not fun when you crash...
    However, the difference between being able to run say, a marathon, and running a half-marathon would be negligible in terms of cycling, probably. Once you get beyond the initial gain it's a land of minimizing returns. And if you run enough, it would take away from your cycling which would, surprise, slow down your cycling.

    Keep on cross-training.
    Well said estone. As far as diminishing returns, well of course. Everything follows the Law of Diminishing Returns now doesn't it?

    Intervals on the track DEFINITELY get my lactate level up WAYYYY faster then say on the bike going at 30mph or more and it takes a lot longer to get this lactate level down on the track but on the bike, it's faster. I can say hold the effort for a while and after lactate build up, I think 5 min or so and I can go again. Of course, that is not a bike specific workout but just some speed increases along my rides which I do.

    6x300m at race pace for the first 2 with 12minutes rest already does enough to kill most of me and my buddies on the track such that we sometimes don't even complete the workout.
    HECK, a 200,300,400,300,200m ladder workout can be sufficiently tiring early in the season!

    Quote Originally Posted by lawrence
    It gave a sample training program and it said 1-2 days a week running but it also said weight training is good for cyclists, leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls, squats, lunges, dead lifts.
    Ditto Why? When you do weights, your legs get more powerful and hence, you get stronger on the bike of course. But, that's a whole new story to it I guess.

    OP, you can actually do some hard workouts running. Suggestions would be hill intervals at a relatively hard pace. This would improve your leg strength, lactate endurance and help you aerobically to an extent as well. Try it, mix it up. It'll do you good.

    Cheers
    Quote Originally Posted by tconrady
    If I can get some more tomorrow.... I thought it'd grow on me but I'm not feelin' it....wait..
    Allez United!

    Glory, Glory Man United, and the Reds go marching on!

  15. #15
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    It's good to hear positive tones with running. When I first started road-biking about 3 years ago I remember reading posts that not only said running won't help cycling (which I agree to a point), but that running is actually detrimental to cycling.

    Maybe if you're riding at the highest level and running is taking time away from cycling can I buy that, other than that I call BS.
    Lou
    In reference to the Assault on Mt Mitchell...
    Quote Originally Posted by merckx56
    The easier solution is to find a biker bar in Spartanburg the night before, go in and pick a fight. The ass-whipping you'll get will be far less painful than the one Mitchell will give you the next day!

  16. #16
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    If you need help dropping those final pounds, running is a good way to do it. When I am only cycling, I don't lose that much weight, because I am always exercising at such a high rate. When I run, I keep more of a steady pace and am able to exercise in the 65% - 75% range for 50 minutes or so (proabably longer, but I get bored). I always get thinner while running. When I cycle, I nearly hammer the entire workout.

  17. #17
    Matnlely Dregaend
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    I'm no professional runner or cyclist, but I do both. I run 7-8 miles 2-3 times a week and ride my bike 2-3 times a week also. I have to agree with the assessment that running will help take off the weight, and I would also agree that although running helps conditioning, it doesn't help your riding all that much. There have been many winter weeks where all I could do was run outside (or use the trainer... pass) and getting back on the bike was not so much fun.

    If you do want to do running, intervals have helped my conditioning the most.

  18. #18
    100% torqued
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    They both benefit each other. Riding is a great low impact way to add conditioning to running without any added impact stresses. Light spinning is a great way to help clear lactic acid from muscles after a running workout. Running is far less time consuming for maintianing and gaining overall fitness, both are specific activities and gains at the higest levels will be realized with more running/cycling depending upon which you choose but for nearly all atheletes some degree of cross training is very beneficial.

  19. #19
    Michigoose
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    It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. If it's overall fitness, running will absolutely complement cycling. If you're trying to finish well in duathlons, it will absolutely help. Where I would draw the line is if you're a fit bike racer who focuses only on cycling. Running is a great way to be fit and in shape. However, I don't think it hones your form if you are already on form for bike racing.

  20. #20
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    I don't think any professional cycling regimen includes running. maybe on the off-season, when the poor bastards don't want to look at a bike but don't want to get fat, either. Other than that, I think that the DS will kill you for running. If I am wrong about this, please pipe up. I certainly have never heard of running being recommended to help cycling.
    Training is very specific.
    But it certainly depends on what you want out of life. If you want to do duathlons, you have to run. That only makes sense. You will be neither the runner nor the cyclist you might be if you focused that effort, but you will be a much better duathlete.
    And running addresses the bone mass issues cyclists face, no doubt.
    But the idea that your cycling benefits from bathing your body in lactic acid, regardless of the muscles used or how the muscles are used, I think is very limited. Yeah, you're going to strengthen your cardio-pulmonary system generally, but I can't believe that this will help you over what you can do with one to the exclusion of the other. If the muscles stressed are different, you're only going to get so far.
    I have known extraordinary runners to become fair to good cyclists, and fair to good runners become extraordinary cyclists. I think that if your body is amenable to endurance sports, you are going to translate your abilities, and you will translate certain habits, etc., but running is running and cycling is cycling and they really are quite different.
    The sport that seems to translate best is rowing. Extraordinary rowers are almost always extraordinary cyclists. I know an Olympic-level rower who rides his bike just a half-dozen times a year and can still kick some serious ass. I don't think that would be true of runners.

  21. #21
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    If you are a bike racer of even a somewhat competitive level, running will definitely hurt your riding. Yes, it's good for general fitness and is often used as an off season aerobic exercise that is different from cycling, but for a fit cyclist it's probably one of the worst things you can do for absolute power and speed -- worse than not running at all. You might actually be better off bowling, playing darts or pool, as far as I'm concerned. A quick way to earn the ire of a cycling coach would be to insist on incorporating running in your training.

    The only exceptions to this are cross racers, who constantly try to juggle the detrimental effects of running with riding. However, most cross racers tend to reduce the running as the season progresses and as soon as the body gets relatively accustomed to the mechanical trauma caused by running.

    Running is great exercise, but if you want to really help your cycling, don't run.

  22. #22
    Yo no fui.
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    Let's not forget the mental side of cycling. Apart from physiological benefits or negatives, which I'm in no position to opine on, I find that running on the cold days in winter is a nice active break from the trainer/rollers and avoids mental burnout. Plus, what better way to remind us of whay we ride than to run?
    "It is better to conquer yourself, than to win a thousand battles." -Dhammapada

    "Fact is only what you believe; fact and fiction work as a team." Jack Johnson

    "A true cyclist sometimes has to bite the dust before he can reach the stars. Laurent Fignon

  23. #23
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    Pro cyclist & champion runner?

    wasn't there a Swiss Pro cyclist that was also a C.C runner and orienteerer ?
    Think his name was Beat something or other - tried to google this but cannot find anything. I know i read an article about him in Pro cycling some years ago and of memory serves he was a reknowned climber. I think he won national champ[ionship at orienteering while he was a pro cyclist.

  24. #24
    gnauss
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    I'm not sure what the relationship between running and cycling is except that running is BOOOORRRRINNNNGGG! Can't decend at 50+ mph running can you? Can't salivate over your $4K carbon road bike can you? Full runners team kit not as cool as the full cycling team kit is it?

    Plus runners are weird.

  25. #25
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    I ran XC and track for H.S. (I'm a senior right now) and I definitely noticed that running put more top end to my aerobic system. As the strenght in my lefs would go away, I could still ride about the same due to my lungs being more in shape (for a while...then I would start sucking). But this is going from running and riding twice a day to only running once school started.
    I'm not amazing at running but I think I'll focus on track this spring because our 4x800 team has a pretty good chance of placing at states...so I'll let you know how it goes

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