This is part two of a two-part cross training series. You can check out part one by Debra Lowe, Nona Cycle member, by going to this link: http://nonahood.to/nc1.
In our runner’s world, there are a few phrases we don’t like…
“You have to rest.”
“You need to cross train.”
These phrases can throw any runner on an emotional spin because we love running! All we want to do is run, and most of us are obsessed with getting faster and hitting personal records. We train for races and just focus on running! No time and no space for any other form of exercise. Running is life!
What runners fail to realize is that cross training is an integral part of any well-balanced training program. Running is very hard on their bodies. With every step runners take, they are putting up to six times their body weight on their joints with all the pounding. Running tends to be unkind to our bodies, hence we need to add cross training in our programs to avoid injury and be able to stay active for a longer period of time.
What is cross training? The true definition of cross training, according to RRCA (Road Runners Club of America), is doing another type of exercise that somewhat mimics running, without all the pounding on your joints. For example, walking, swimming and cycling are the most common. These are exercises that will develop your endurance levels but won’t hit your body as hard. Think of it as keeping your body moving in a gentler way. There is research that shows strength training as an integral part of any training schedule, as well as yoga. But, that is a topic for another day.
Cycling is a great way to complement running. Cycling is a non-impact exercise, and it will help you strengthen your capillary network, your heart, and your lungs. What is your capillary network? Those are the “roads” that carry oxygen to your muscles. Exercise keeps your roads clear of debris! Legs are getting stronger and faster when you cycle. The cadence you keep on the bike will somewhat translate to your cadence in running, and your joints will thank you. You will also build endurance when you cycle, which is key for a long-distance runner. Cycling will help develop your aerobic capacity as well as strengthen your muscles when you cycle uphill.
Athletes dread being injured. Runners are certainly no exception! In my experience with Lake Nona Run Club athletes, the ones that are doing some type of cross training tend to stay injury-free during training season. A runner doesn’t have to wait until he/she gets injured to get on a bike. GET ON A BIKE and prevent injury! Be proactive! Cycling brings balance to your training schedule. If you are putting in a long run on Saturday, it is a great idea to go cycling on Sunday to “flush the legs out.” That session can count as active recovery if you complete it at a low intensity.
You might ask yourself, “Can I substitute a run with cycling?” The answer is YES! You should always listen to your body and pay close attention to when it needs low-impact exercise. If you substitute a training run with a cycling session, just remember that 10-15 minutes on the bike will somewhat equal one mile of running to help build the same endurance you would build if you were running.
As we get older, we need to be kind to our bodies. Let’s face it, most of us are out there for fun – yes, we are competitive with ourselves and others, but we are not in it to win Olympic trials. Therefore, respect your body and give it the balance it deserves.
Our community is known for its love of health and wellness. We are lucky to have options like Lake Nona Run Club for running and Nona Cycle for cycling. Both groups have made it easy to create that cross-training environment. Lots of athletes who participate in both are reaping fantastic health and endurance benefits from it, besides all the wonderful friendships that have emerged. Let’s not forget that cycling is an activity that can be done as a family! We have wonderful trails around the community where kids can cycle with parents. Fewer excuses for parents to get out and move, and what a way to lead by example and teach our kids the importance of a body in motion.