Should I cycle to improve my running?

Will adding in some two-wheeled cross training help make you a better runner? Or could it hinder your progress?

Kate Allan is a TeamBottrill time trial cyclist, runner and Wattbike ambassador (

Cycling is renowned as a great cross training method, being a flexible, non-impact form of exercise. Runners often perceive it only as a method of recovery or rehab – but there’s a place for it in a broader training routine. If used well, it’s an excellent alternative to pounding out miles on foot, as it places significantly less stress on the body. It’s possible to ride for a much
longer time than running. This is great news for endurance runners, especially those prone to injury. For strength, cycling uses a different set of muscles to running, as you engage more of your quads and gluteus maximus. By using alternative muscle systems you are resting your regular running muscles and allowing them to recover to some extent, while still enjoying cardio gains.

Cycling offers a great method of high-end aerobic training for those seeking to improve their level of fitness. Sprint intervals, for example, raise your heart rate to highest levels, while enforcing a quick pedal turnover (cadence). It’s a really good way of improving fitness and leg strength, without putting as much stress on the legs. As with any new form of exercise, start steady to allow muscles and skills to adapt gradually rather than going out there gung-ho and risk doing more harm than good.

Jurian Elstgeest is the managing director of shoe brand 361°,

If you want to be a better runner, stop cycling. I don’t mean cycling is bad for runners, but if you want to improve your running fitness you should spend as much time as you can on running specific workouts. This may not be a popular opinion among triathletes, but have you ever seen a fast Kenyan training on a bike? So if your primary goal is getting PBs and improving yourself as a runner, focus on your running. If you are a runner who enjoys participating in events more than
crossing the finish line first, there’s no doubt cycling can provide an alternative workout. Especially for any runner who is injured and can’t train.

When you are in that no-man’s-land of not being able to run, you can do two things; either wait until you heal and can run again, or try cross-training. As cycling is a non-impact sport it may work for you when you are injured. The process of looking to other sports for alternative training will help you awaken different muscles, use different muscle groups in new ways and get stronger as an athlete. No one can argue it’s bad to mix up your training. But if you are focused on improving running alone, find a good coach or use an online training plan recommended by one and set yourself specific goals.

Do you want to check the full article by Women's Running Magazine? Check it out!


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