Faster endurance running times are often achieved more easily when cross-training strategies are part of the training program. By adding different types of physical training, like cycling and swimming, it allows runners to improve their overall performance without adding unnecessary impact load to joints.
Why a runner should want to increase their running speed is a personal decision. It could be to compete in a series of races, manage health and stress better, or as part of a marathon training program. But, whatever the reason for wanting to improve your pace as a runner, adding cycling to your endurance training program can be beneficial.
Cycling Increases Leg Strength
Having strong leg muscles is essential for endurance runners to see regular progress and improvements in their running speed. While developing strong leg muscles may seem like a no-brainer for anyone seeking to run faster, strength training is often overlooked by running athletes. However, those that do include resistance training as part of their training efforts, typically increase their speed and incur fewer injuries than those that skimp on muscle work.
Cycling is a great option for endurance athletes to increase leg strength while still getting a killer cardiovascular workout—one way to really work leg muscles while cycling is to ride uphill in high gear. Choose a route with several hills or adjust an indoor bike to mimic climbing hills to challenge your leg muscles.
Cycling Increases Athletic Endurance
Increasing endurance is necessary for athletes seeking to run long-distances. And, building endurance helps to produce better running skills and fitness. When building running endurance — as part of a marathon training plan — the risk of injury increases as limits are being pushed. Cycling allows athletes to build endurance and stamina while reducing the risk of running-related injuries, such as shin splints or a stress fracture.
When we cycle, the body’s cardiovascular system can work just as hard as when running on a treadmill or along an outdoor trail. Cycling long distances at a steady pace increase physical endurance by working the aerobic system as well as working similar muscle groups to running. Additionally, cycling allows an athlete to work on stabilizing breathing in a way that’s similar to long-distance running.
Cycling Is Non-Impact
Risk of injury cannot be avoided when performing high-impact sports, such as long-distance trail running or marathon training. However, cycling allows runners to improve their running fitness and gives their bodies a break from striking the pavement every day. All non-impact sports, such as swimming or rowing, are beneficial to an endurance runner’s training program. However, cycling is a runner’s good friend because of how closely it mimics running.
Cycling Aids Recovery
Recovering from a running injury is a frustrating experience for every athlete. Having to wait for the body to heal can test every runner’s patience and reduce performance abilities. However, healing from injury is extremely important; choosing to train through the pain can lead to further damages.
When forced to lay off of running and allow the body to heal, it’s important to find other ways to stay physically active that’s safe. Cycling is often an effective option to keep injured runners moving as they heal.
Cycling + Running = Better Athletic Performance
Better athletic performance, such as improved running times, requires more than blind dedication to a single sport. It requires balance and should provide a variety of opportunities for your body to develop cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength. For those looking to run faster and run longer distances, add cycling to your training regime for best results.
For more ways to improve your running speed, or discover a running training program best suited to your goals, contact the expert coaches at B78 Coaching.