Combining Cycling and Running
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  1. #1
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    Combining Cycling and Running

    Some quick background:
    Running was my first interest in sport. I got into it when I was 18 and seemed to do quite well. I ended up injuring my left knee using a leg extension machine a few months after starting. I was never able to run injury-free after that. I eventually had arthroscopic surgery on the left knee which did help but I had issues with running injuries to my right knee and bursitis on my right toe joint.

    I turned to cycling and, especially after knowing my body better and doing strength training, rarely get injured.

    About two months ago due to a change in my work schedule and the general difficulties with winter riding, I began a foray back into running (I do not do cardio training inside). I eased into it carefully. I wasnít wearing ideal running shoes though and ended up with the bursitis issue flaring up. Getting a pair of highly cushioned Hoka running shoes and using orthotics seems to have solved that problem.

    I have really enjoyed running again and plan to continue despite the better weather and more daylight affording more cycling time. I like the bang you get for your time buck while running. After many years of cycling exclusively, I also am just enjoying the variety and comparative newness of it. So Iím left with trying to balance the two sports.

    My cycling schedule has been three times per week with the days most often being Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. Iíve been running on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Iíve sprinkled my strength training in on my off days. Iíve cut my cycling distance down a little (most rides are still at least 40 miles) but I find Iím less motivated for my rides whereas Iím always motivated for my runs. Do I risk burn out or injury with this schedule? If my body can tolerate it, Iím thinking of eventually switching to running three times and riding only twice per week. I have a family and a full-time job so time is at a premium.

    I have never done a cycling race but did one 10K running race when I was first into it and really enjoyed the experience. My time was 41:15 after only a couple months of that initial training and I always wondered how much improvement I could have made if I was able to keep running. Iím toying with maybe dabbling in racing again should I be able to sustain injury-free running. Iíve been only running on dirt averaging an 8:00/mile pace for 5 mile runs. The plan is to make sure my body can tolerate this and then slowly start adding pavement and distance/pace.

    So, Iím curious if any other cyclists have successfully combined the two sports. Did you find one suffered or were they pretty much complementary?
    Last edited by JasonB176; 03-27-2019 at 09:09 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB176 View Post
    Do I risk burn out or injury with this schedule?
    Every body and mind is different. It's impossible for anyone else to answer this for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB176 View Post
    So, Iím curious if any other cyclists have successfully combined the two sports. Did you find one suffered or were they pretty much complementary?
    Yes. My wife races a 1/2 marathon every couple months and runs 5-13 miles (depending on training schedule) almost every day. In the summer she runs before work then mountain bikes with me after work and on weekends - 3 or 4 days per week.

    When I used to run (prior to losing a meniscus) I found that the two worked totally different muscles although the cardio benefits crossed over nicely.

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    i do both. During the winter months, during the late fall through early spring road conditions and daylight don't aren't really friendly to an early evening ride, so I run 4.5 miles up to a 10K. I find that if given only an hour running is a better cardio(etc etc). Also there are times my legs don't have it in me to do a ride, but I'm able to pound out a run. I like them both. Now that its cycling season I expect to cut back on running and that my runs will now be less frequent and under 5 miles.

  4. #4
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    I wish I could run. Too much pain in my knees. It would help me loose weight.
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  5. #5
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    Combining exercise walks or running to compliment your riding benefits you. It increases your bone mass and strength, coordination, balance and strengthens some muscles that will increase your biking performance. It can also assist you in losing weights if your walking and running doesn't cut back on how much you ride.

  6. #6
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    When I was bicycling 2-300 miles a week regularly I could just go run a 20 minute 5k. The more I started to run, the worse I did on the bike. Now I run and train for ultramarathons, and my biking legs suck. But I do the things I do for fun, so I run and bike because I enjoy both. I'm also mostly into trail running and gravel biking, with some road biking. However 7 years of mostly running has gotten me wanting to bike more lately, so I'm running only 4 ultras this year, and I'm going to do more bike rides and maybe a 100 mile mtb race. If I were training specifically for road bike races I would not run at all, however triathletes seem to find a good balance and are excellent athletes.

    Purely running does not really help you lose weight without also limiting your calorie intake, the more efficient you become as a runner, the less calories you burn as your running economy increases. I can run 10 hours a week (which is a lot for a recreational runner) and gain weight easily if I don't watch my diet.
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    Back in the day, when I was cycle racing, I could never get enough training in on the bike. I had time for 1 training race in the middle of the week and a race or another training race on the weekend, with perhaps 1 other day out on the bike doing hill work. I had to supplant this with the midday run I was able to squeeze out of my time in the office.

    I used to always figure that a good run was equal to a cycling workout of 3 times the length of the run. I also felt that the different workouts helped balance the muscle groups. As someone else said, I cannot run anymore after tearing a meniscus and having a scope. OA set in real bad and now I am just pleased to still be able to cycle. In fact it was a huge part of my recovery from surgery and the PT afterwards. I was scheduled for a TKR several years ago, but cancelled after I saw what my cycling could do for me.

    I have often thought that cyclists could benefit from adding running to their programs and vice versa for runners. For the latter, cycling could be a big step toward injury prevention.

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    Thanks for the comments.

    My weight has stayed pretty consistent just with my cycling but I have noticed a bit of extra weight loss since I took up running. It seems to really cause a metabolism spike for the amount of time engaged in it.

    At the end of my 5 mile runs I usually feel fantastic and would love to go farther but I'll continue to rein it in. It's just not worth getting injured to push it. It's so tempting with already having the aerobic engine but I know I need to treat my joints and tendons pretty much as if I just took up running as my first sport.
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    Stopped cycling in December and picked up running,then resumed cycling again to give it up again this weekend,had my first run this morning,I can barely walk today. I guess you can do it,but you may need a lot of stretching in between ? Not a chance iíll do both,looks like iíll enjoy running for a while. On top of that it gives me a lot of weight loss benefits I can only dream about cycling..

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devastazione View Post
    iíll enjoy running for a while. On top of that it gives me a lot of weight loss benefits I can only dream about cycling..
    Internet fantasy. lol. Nearly all weight loss is done with what u eat. Kitchen stuff. The main difference between cycling and running is knee destruction. Running is typically horrific on knees after 40. Itís just such an unnatural act for the human body.

  11. #11
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    I gave up running soon after taking it up too late at age 39. The knees couldn't take it. Cycling was a breath of fresh air. Reading stories of elite road racers turning up with osteoporosis as they aged, due to calcium lost through sweating and lack of impact resistance that stimulate the bones to regenerate, I incorporate walking into the mix. Walking also strengthens the bones. My calcium density is fine. True, running and cycling uses the legs in different movements, but cross over nicely in terms of aerobic fitness. Walking up a hill takes the same effort as cycling up the hill. It just takes longer.

    Never wanted to specialize in bike racing; too old; so don't especially have recovery problems after a ride or walk. Working below anaerobic threshold, both complement the other.

    If I wanted to specialize in cycling, the walking would probably detract from cycling fitness, largely from frequent excursions into anaerobic when cycling, which breaks down the muscles and requires a day to recover. Don't know how triathletes do both, working right on the line, crossing into anaerobic frequently. Ouch. Then again cycling strengthens the muscles around the knees, which would condition them to handle the impact later on the run.

    Kudos to those who can both run and bike at the same intensities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Notvintage View Post
    Internet fantasy. lol. Nearly all weight loss is done with what u eat. Kitchen stuff. The main difference between cycling and running is knee destruction. Running is typically horrific on knees after 40. Itís just such an unnatural act for the human body.
    Glad I made you laugh. Kitchen stuff my @ss,I can starve myself to death but cycling gives me water retention and huge legs no matter what. Innatural act ? I thought few years ago people had to chase animals to get their food..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devastazione View Post
    I thought few years ago people had to chase animals to get their food..
    Same here. There's a body of evidence and at least one book out there that makes a strong case that humans are specifically evolved to run long distances. Has that been discredited recently?

  14. #14
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    There have been a number of posts from forum members that have encountered physical problems or injuries with running. Some are with a little bit of running and others running over a longer period of time. Also, if not mentioned even if you stay fit as you age there is a tendency to wear out if you run a lot to the point where you no longer can do any running of any significant distance.

    Unfortunately, a lot of sport require leg skills of coordination and strength or endurance. One way to beat the can't run distances problem but still stay running level fit for other sports is to do what I did when I got to the stage in question.

    I stayed running fit for years by going to the track and running 200-meter intervals at a 400-meter pace, walk 200 meters, and repeat for a total distance of two miles covered by the running and walking combo. Worked great. Your MMV but you can personalize a similar concept tailored to your abilities or needs.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    I gave up running soon after taking it up too late at age 39. The knees couldn't take it. Cycling was a breath of fresh air. Reading stories of elite road racers turning up with osteoporosis as they aged, due to calcium lost through sweating and lack of impact resistance that stimulate the bones to regenerate, I incorporate walking into the mix. Walking also strengthens the bones. My calcium density is fine. True, running and cycling uses the legs in different movements, but cross over nicely in terms of aerobic fitness. Walking up a hill takes the same effort as cycling up the hill. It just takes longer.

    Never wanted to specialize in bike racing; too old; so don't especially have recovery problems after a ride or walk. Working below anaerobic threshold, both complement the other.

    If I wanted to specialize in cycling, the walking would probably detract from cycling fitness, largely from frequent excursions into anaerobic when cycling, which breaks down the muscles and requires a day to recover. Don't know how triathletes do both, working right on the line, crossing into anaerobic frequently. Ouch. Then again cycling strengthens the muscles around the knees, which would condition them to handle the impact later on the run.

    Kudos to those who can both run and bike at the same intensities.
    Itís interesting you mention that. In past attempts at running, I had problems with my right knee as I mentioned in my original post. This time, Iíve encountered very little of that. Iím wondering if having strong quads from cycling has helped with the knee issue. Having strong quads helps the knee track better. I remember reading that leg extensions were even recommended for runners for this very reason.

    With age hopefully comes wisdom and a knowledge of oneís own body and what it can take. At 47 Iím running with less problems than any other time in my life with the exception of when I first tried it when I was 18. That could all change but Iím going to see how it goes.
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    Wait... We are, in every way, designed to run. All kinds of paces, start/stop... Running is perfect. Well, for most people and younger people anyway. Cycling couldnít be more maladaptive. Holding cardio fitness aside (granted that is a biggy) cycling is worse for you than better. Cycling can be a great fitness supplement if you lift? Riding a bike is great for riding a bike farther and faster. Donít get me wrong, I love the sport, but I was in way, way better fitness as a speed skater who lived in the squat cage all winter and went and skated all the warmer months. I was 195 starting a season on skates and like 180 going back to the gym. Iíd be around 14/15% BF. Iím 165 now. In season, 12.5% BF. I understand that cross training for cycling isnít really productive from a performance standpoint, it will not improve your cycling, but it will make living life easier. Then again, I donít ride for fitness, I ride to participate in some little way in a sport I love.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB176 View Post
    Itís interesting you mention that. In past attempts at running, I had problems with my right knee as I mentioned in my original post. This time, Iíve encountered very little of that. Iím wondering if having strong quads from cycling has helped with the knee issue. Having strong quads helps the knee track better. I remember reading that leg extensions were even recommended for runners for this very reason.

    With age hopefully comes wisdom and a knowledge of oneís own body and what it can take. At 47 Iím running with less problems than any other time in my life with the exception of when I first tried it when I was 18. That could all change but Iím going to see how it goes.
    Sure.

    I finely damaged the right knee weight lifting and couldn't run. Cycling fast in "circles" consistently for several years taught the legs how to track, as you say. So then working the harder gears stimulates muscle growth that do strengthen the knees. The knee tracks hopping up stairs, like dancing, a lost art.

    The two strongest muscles in the body, the legs, get to do their thing. The upper body practices self-control like a samurai warrior. I wouldn't run anymore, but can walk up hills with panache.

    Yes, man was born to run, chase down food, exert power, control his destiny. Cycling satisfies that genetic inheritance really well.
    Last edited by Fredrico; 04-02-2019 at 11:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    lived in the squat cage all winter and went and skated all the warmer months.
    That seasonality is the opposite of what I would expect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    That seasonality is the opposite of what I would expect.
    Haha, yes, sorry, in-line speed skater.
    To date, philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it.

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    It's interesting this topic is up right now. So far this year I've been running more and cycling less. I run around 34 miles a week (7 miles x 3 during the week and 12 on Saturdays).
    I do have knee pain but running is the only way I can cut weight. I usually ride around 2500 miles a year, which is noting compared to most but a decent amount, and I can never cut weight.
    Back in the day when I raced cross, I was wicked strong on the bike because I did both running and cycling. I used to wake up and run 3 miles, go to work, then come home and do a 25 mile ride during the week. I was extremely fit both on and off the bike. If I had the motivation I would go back to this workout because, for my body, it paid dividends.
    With my knee pain AFTER running, why do I still do it? Because running is a perishable skill and I get a lot of satisfaction with being a capable runner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TREKIN View Post
    It's interesting this topic is up right now. So far this year I've been running more and cycling less. I run around 34 miles a week (7 miles x 3 during the week and 12 on Saturdays).
    I do have knee pain but running is the only way I can cut weight. I usually ride around 2500 miles a year, which is noting compared to most but a decent amount, and I can never cut weight.
    Back in the day when I raced cross, I was wicked strong on the bike because I did both running and cycling. I used to wake up and run 3 miles, go to work, then come home and do a 25 mile ride during the week. I was extremely fit both on and off the bike. If I had the motivation I would go back to this workout because, for my body, it paid dividends.
    With my knee pain AFTER running, why do I still do it? Because running is a perishable skill and I get a lot of satisfaction with being a capable runner.
    Have you tried everything possible to fix the knee pain? I used to have right knee pain from running but it seems to have cleared up. I've been using Hoka One running shoes with their enhanced cushioning and also have orthotics. The other change is that I've been running exclusively on a dirt rail trail. Of course, I'm not running the miles you are.
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    I do lots of different stuff, including running and cycling.

    Running is great because you can generally get a good workout in a short amount of time. For me, running is an extremely intense exercise when I'm willing to push it. It definitely gets you damned fit. I started running in high school. I've never been injured from running. I work up the mileage very, very slowly if I haven't run in a while. I also spend a lot of time on flexibility. Lots of stretching (half hour a day), lots of weighted exercises with full muscular extension (eg: squat deep). I also find that cycling works muscles that balance my running muscles, keeping my legs in "equilibrium".

    I like cross training a great deal. Too many cyclists I know only like to ride their bikes, that's all they do for exercise. I personally find that boring. I like to lift weights, run, cycle and swim. I think this also makes me more fit and more resilient physiologically that if I were only cycling.

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    I'm a single father running 3 very active kids 7yr old to 13. My oldes boy had 73 baseball games last year....add travel basketball and you get the picture. I've always been active in sports as a kid; baseball, basketball, and football. Never ran more than 2 miles at once. All my sports trainign was weight room and explosive training. At 46 I could not get the time for the miles on the bike so I took up running.

    At 230lbs running more than 5k was a struggle. Pushed through and now I usually run 5-6miles at a time. Most months I get in 45-55 miles running. I had a meniscus repair 18 years ago and luckily it's help up well.

    At my weight I take care not to pound my knees too much. I also track everything on Garmin and change out my running shoes at 300 mile mark. Never experienced any back pain or knee pain above the expected stiffness of an older dude :0 I expect to keep the running up for as long as I can. I've found it I can get my ass up at 430am I can get 500 miles running and 2k miles on the bike in a year. This lets me get my mountainbike time in and take care of the kids....oh, and my damn employer expects me to be at my job 40+ houes every week 0:

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    I just thought I'd update this thread as it's now been about 5 months later. I've been feeling my way with running. I got a great book called 'Run Less, Run Faster' which espouses three quality runs and two cross-training workouts per week. I've dealt with a few injuries but nothing that has sidelined me for more than a few days. Running on dirt on doing extensive foam rolling has been very helpful. I've been generally following the guidelines in that book except for the track running. I don't feel like my body is up for that yet. Cycling meets the cross-training specifications.

    I did my first race two days ago - a 5K - and got a time of 20:18 which placed me at 14th overall and I won the 40-49 age group. It was a satisfying experience. I definitely enjoy mixing the two sports. I feel overall more fit even if my cycling has taken a bit of a hit. It's great to have an alternative activity that is less weather dependent. I also enjoy running on a rail trail completely away from cars and often people too. My cycling it exclusive to the road so this makes for a nice break from that.

    I've never done a bike race and don't plan to but I could see myself getting hooked on running races. I like that there's little danger and there are many options though I would prefer a longer distance than a 5K and that's harder to find.
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    Just saw this. I do both and enjoy both. I don't believe one detracts from the other but like any hard work out recovery is important. I find that if I only have an hour to dedicate I can get a far better workout from a run than I can from the bike.

    Midweek I tend to prefer running. Less cars to deal with where I am if I hit central park. I rotate between the bridle path and doing a 10k around the park. I love it. -
    Last edited by Trek_5200; 08-23-2019 at 03:03 AM.

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