Many people who take up cycling do so with the intention of making it a part of their regular exercise regimen. This could include a variety of other cardio-heavy activities, like running and swimming.
As such, it stands to reason that gains made in one area should lead to immediate benefits in the others. However, it isn’t quite that simple, so if you want know if your cycling helps running, you are going to need to know how one affects the other to allow you to train properly.
The biggest benefit that cycling can have to runners is in improving their overall cardiovascular fitness. As cycling is a low-impact sport, it is an excellent way for a person to improve their overall conditioning without putting their body through the stresses that running often demands.
While this doesn’t mean that general cycling will improve the musculature of your body, affording you more power and speed when you run, it does mean that you will build some level of endurance and be able to enjoy superior cardio with lower recovery rates in the bargain.
Building Complementary Muscles
While running is the best way to build the muscles associate with running, with strength training and other gym work being used to create more power in your legs, cycling trains a number of other muscles that complement the main muscles used when running and allow for smoother and faster leg turnover.
Running makes heavy use of your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, which are all muscles that are used at varying stages during cycling as well. Furthermore, getting on your bike helps you to improve your thigh strength in addition to working your core, which can all help add to your running experience.
Does Cycling Help Running Endurance
Yes, cycling will help your endurance by increasing your cardio and building complementary muscles, but just because you are an avid cyclist does not mean you should go out and run a 6 mile or longer race. There are still a lot of tertiary muscles that you need to build up for running and even more dangerously you have to build up your ligament strength. You may have the endurance and cardio to go for a long run, but your body needs time to adapt and strengthen itself in order to take the stress that running provides.
Better On The Bones
Anybody who runs regularly will know that it is a fairly high impact activity that can lead to increased strain being placed on bones and joints. Knees and ankles can suffer as a result of the constant thudding of your feet into the ground, with the problems only becoming worse over longer distances.
While cycling over long distances can cause some stress on the knees, it is comparatively far lower than that caused by running. As such, cycling can be used by competitive runners to help the maintain and build their fitness without placing undue stress on the body, thus leaving them in better condition to take a race by storm when it comes time to run.
Does Cycling Help Running Speed?
While a lot of what you do when cycling can go a long way to improving your fitness, allowing you to run for longer and recover more quickly, it is important to remember that you also need to pay attention to increasing power and speed to allow you to improve as a runner.
While cycling can help a little in this regard, through minor muscle building, a trip to the gym is always a good way to build that extra power, which can then be refined as needed.
A number of basic exercises, such as lunges, hip flexing stretches and heel raises, can go a long way to increasing flexibility in your legs, thus allowing for quicker turnover and a more efficient stride. Additionally, it is also a good idea to hit the weights and use leg presses and other machines to build some muscle. Of course, the main thing to remember is that you need to balance this increase in power with your overall fitness, as massive legs are going to become restrictive if you run on a regular basis.
However, with the right combination, you should find that your overall fitness levels improve and you start getting the speed you want when you run.
So can cycling help running? It can significantly improve cardio, help build some of the larger muscles groups required for running, keep your body a little more rested than running and improve overall speed. Yes, cycling can help running. Just use common sense, if you are trying to be a runner then you have to focus on running and treat cycling as a secondary sport.