As athletes, we are always looking for ways to improve our performance in sports. When it comes to running, many of us turn to cross-training to help us get stronger, faster and avoid injury. One such popular form of cross-training is road cycling. But the question remains, does road cycling really help with running?
7 Ways Road Cycling Helps Running!
Road cycling can be a great way for runners to enhance their performance.
Cycling can help improve running performance by developing fitness, stamina and endurance without damaging leg muscles. As it is a low-impact cardiovascular exercise, road cycling can also aid in developing an individual’s cardio.
Additionally, it can help strengthen the calf muscles, which are highly susceptible to stress and injuries caused by running.
Cycling can also be beneficial to runners for both recovery and training, as it flushes the legs out and activates similar muscles, targeting them in different positions.
However, while cycling can improve an individual’s endurance and aerobic capacity, it may not significantly improve muscular endurance, which is essential for running.
#1. Increased Blood Flow & Muscle Recovery
Cycling promotes healthy weight management, lowers resting pulse, and reduces blood fat levels, which improves heart muscles.
It also increases blood flow to your calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quads, the muscles you need for running, and helps flush out lactate acids. This flushing out of lactate acid helps muscle recovery.
The low-impact nature of cycling is perfect for runners looking for a break from the high-impact stress of running.
Additionally, cycling offers dual muscle activation and building, which benefits runners looking to improve their strength and endurance.
Cycling is an effective cross-training activity from both physiological and psychological perspectives.
Its aerobic endurance benefits supplement muscle strengthening, increase stamina, and reduce the risk of running injuries.
#2. Cardiovascular Benefits of Cycling for Runners
By engaging in regular cycling workouts, runners can improve their heart and lung function, allowing for better oxygen delivery to the muscles during runs.
In addition to improving overall fitness, cycling also helps to lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
#3. Low-Impact Alternative to Running
Running is a high-impact exercise that can put a lot of strain on joints and muscles, leading to injuries and setbacks in training.
Road cycling, on the other hand, is a low-impact activity that places less stress on the body.
This makes it an excellent alternative for runners who want to maintain their fitness levels without risking further injury or strain.
#4. Dual Muscle Activation and Building
Road cycling also offers the opportunity to activate and build complementary muscles for running.
Both sports engage similar muscles in varying positions, but cycling targets the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves in a different way. This can result in strengthening and building these muscles in a way that supports running performance.
Additionally, the pedaling action of cycling can improve strength in the calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps, as well as the muscles in the core and back.
#5. Cycling’s Impact on Running Speed
When cycling uphill, the leg muscles are worked in a way that develops strength and endurance, which transfers to running. This cross-training effect can help runners become faster because their muscles are better equipped to handle intense workouts.
Additionally, cycling is low-impact, which means that it doesn’t put as much stress on the joints as running does.
Therefore, cycling can be an effective way to reduce injury risk while still improving speed.
#6. Reduced Risk of Injury
Cycling is a low-impact activity that poses less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise. This makes it an excellent alternative for injured runners, as it allows them to maintain fitness levels while recovering from their injuries.
In addition to reducing the risk of injury, cycling also engages core muscles, which can improve running form and decrease the chance of injury due to mechanical compensations.
Furthermore, high-intensity cycling enables runners to increase their training volume without the accompanying risk of injury.
Cross-training with cycling, therefore, offers several advantages, such as a lower injury risk, easier calorie burning, and improved balance, all of which can help prevent falls and fractures and decrease the risk of injury.
#7. Aerobic Endurance Benefits of Cycling
In addition to improving cardiovascular health and endurance, cycling can also help build up the endurance of the leg muscles, especially in the quads and glutes.
This means that runners who incorporate cycling into their training routines may be able to run longer distances with less fatigue and improved form.
Additionally, cycling can be done at lower intensities than running but still achieve similar aerobic benefits.
As a result, it can be a great way to supplement running workouts, especially for those with a history of knee or hip injuries.
Limitations for Muscular Endurance Improvement
While cycling can help build the necessary leg muscles and cardiovascular system needed for running, it doesn’t replicate the exact demands of running itself.
Therefore, cyclists who want to see significant improvements in their running endurance may need to incorporate additional training strategies, such as interval training or hill repeats, in order to better target the specific demands of running.
However, for those looking for a low-impact alternative to running or a way to maintain their fitness level while recovering from an injury, cycling can still be an excellent cross-training option.
When it comes to cross-training for runners, road cycling is an effective option that offers many physical and mental benefits. Cycling builds strength in complementary muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and reduces the risk of injury. This low-impact exercise also provides a great aerobic workout and can aid in muscle recovery. Plus, it allows runners to maintain or even improve their fitness level without the constant pounding of running.