Including Running as an Adjunct
Recently I began to take up running with the goal of it helping my endurance on the road bike and as a social activity as I run with two others. What I have learned thus far was a bit unexpected and revealing.
Combining Running With Cycling
I, as a cyclist, overlook the value that running can have for overall fitness. I recently have tried combining the two and found some interesting results. Running uses mostly the same muscles as cycling–but differently.
My first run was just under 5–miles. Not having a background as a runner I should have done half that distance as I suffered dearly for a week, but I made it.
As a cyclist, there are some benefits hidden to the closed-minded athlete. I have discovered to use running as an adjunct to your cycling.
Just how are the leg muscles used differently?
Running lengthens your hamstrings and there is a greater impact on your legs and feet.
When on a level surface, running uses the adductors, the quadriceps and hamstrings the most. Along with the knee, these muscles help support the functioning of hip extension and the pelvis, which helps to stabilize the spine.
Your abdominal muscles are active the whole time you are running and are both stabilizing the pelvis and supporting your balance throughout your run.
Running uphill will employ the hamstrings as well as the gluteals, quadriceps calves. Uphill running requires a good deal more from your legs and thus require more engagement from the muscles. Your heart and lungs will need to work much harder and result in better calories burning because of the increased stress on the muscles. This is good for fat burning.
Cycling uses all of the muscles in the legs. It does this but at different intervals. For example, during the power or crank phase. At the top of the stroke, your outer quads and hamstrings are working the hardest. Half the way down it’s the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, calves and inner quads. Finally, at the bottom of the stroke the medial hamstring–semimebranosus–is the most active muscle and engages the bending of the knee during the recovery phase of the stroke. At this point this point your abdominals, shoulders and triceps are working collectively to support your upper body while your hands rest on the handlebars.
Bring the Two Together
Both of these activities use mostly the same muscles in differing ways. During running the muscles of the lower body help to move the body in four stages; heel strike, single limb support, push off, and leg swing.Cycling only has two; the power phase and the recovery phase. It is during the power phase that the leg muscles are used the most.
As a cyclist, I recognize that it is my first passion. But there are times that a change–however small–can have benefits not otherwise realized. The fact that the weather–more so in colder climates–can hamper a cyclists’ desire to get out and ride. There may be moments of boredom from cycling that is experienced and running can be an awesome inclusion that not only gives you that break you’re looking for but enriches your cycling fitness and prowess simultaneously if done right.
A Simple But Effective Method
Here is a simple strategy to create a simple but effective high-intensity plan to get started with running:
- 10-minute warm-up with an easy jog–similar to jogging in place–with little effort.
- 6-minutes of running–nothing too demanding–to get your heart rate and breathing aroused.
- 4-minutes of walking.
- 7-minutes of running.
- 3-minutes of walking.
- 8-minutes of running.
- 2-minutes of walking.
- 5-minutes of a cool-down easy jog.
Again, this is for beginning your running efforts and should be followed for several weeks until you feel mentally and physically ready to take on more. But remember, this is to compliment your riding prowess and should be kept on a reasonable schedule. Once or twice a week should be a good start and be sure to invest in a good pair of running shoes.
This HIIT program can be done on the bike if the idea of running is not for you.