Thinking about swapping two wheels for two hooves on some of your weekly adventures? If you’re a pure cyclist, running might be something you’d only consider doing if you were late for your train… or being chased by something with teeth and claws. When you can zip around on your bike, why would you want to waste time doing something which is slower, harder work and generally doesn’t involve quite as many café stops? You’ve almost got us there…
But adding some running into your routine might actually help to make you a better cyclist. It’s a great way to add some variety, explore new places and maybe even discover a whole new Herd to head out on adventures with! Here’s why we think running is a great idea for cyclists…
Six reasons cyclists should take up running
Improves your fitness and endurance
Running is a great form of cardiovascular exercise to improve your base of aerobic fitness. Put simply, it gets your blood pumping and your lungs working! Running is a full body activity and it’s higher impact than cycling, so it’s likely you’ll notice your heart rate getting up higher than it would do on the bike. And while that might sound like hard work, it’s actually a great way to help strengthen your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. That means you’ll see aerobic fitness gains, which will help to improve your endurance and your ability to push power on the bike.
Enhances core strength, coordination and helps to prevent muscle imbalances
Running provides your body with a different training stimulus to cycling, getting your muscles to work and adapt in different ways. Particularly if you head out onto the trails, running engages your core muscles and forces you to work on your balance and coordination if you tend to prefer staying upright!
As cyclists, we can often end up with muscle imbalances caused by repetitive use in the same position. Running can help to strengthen muscles such as your glutes and hamstrings which may have been playing second fiddle to your quads while you’re riding. Developing strong, well-balanced muscles and improving your core means once you’re back on the bike you’ll be a more efficient – and therefore faster – rider. Time to dig out those running shorts!
Helps to maintain bone density
Particularly as we get older, maintaining healthy bone density is vital. Our skeleton is what stops us from becoming a bunch of oversized jelly fish, flopping around all over the place… so it makes sense that we want to take care of it. Our bodies need weight-bearing exercise to keep our bones strong. And while cycling has a long list of health benefits – those long days in the saddle also add up to a long time spent in a weight-supported position. A study on cycling and bone health published on BMC Medicine states: “road cycling does not appear to confer any significant osteogenic benefit. The cause of this may be related to spending long hours in a weight-supported position on the bike in combination with the necessary enforced recovery time that involves a large amount of time sitting or lying supine, especially at the competitive level.”
That’s not to say that we should all be giving up cycling, lest our bones crumble into dust. The physical and mental benefits of spending time on two wheels makes cycling a superb pass time for taking care of your overall health and wellbeing. But it’s worth adding some other, weight-bearing activity into your routine to take care of your bone health too. Running is a great way to do this, while also being complementary to your bike training. Interestingly, the BMC article also notes that mountain biking has been shown to be beneficial to maintaining bone density (presumably due to the higher impact style of riding). So if we can’t tempt you into running, at least you now have a bone-afide (sorry, couldn’t resist) excuse to treat yourself to some of our MTB kit!
Switches up your routine
Getting bored of the same old routes, or struggling to get motivated to head out on your bike? Cross-training and adding some running into the mix is a great way to break up your routine and try something different. Long hours in the saddle can start to become a bit mundane. Doing something different gives you a positive mental boost and a fresh perspective. Which can be just the ticket to bring you out of a cycling rut and help to reignite your love for spending time on the bike.
Get active, anywhere
The great thing about running is that you can do it pretty much anywhere. All you’ve got to do is lace up your trainers, pick your favourite playlist and go. It’s an ideal way to maintain your fitness and stay active if you’re travelling and can’t take your bike with you.
Adventure More: A different way to explore
With the above in mind, running is a brilliant way to explore in a different way. Heading out for a run in a new city is a great way to see the sights. Even if you’re staying close to home, when you go for a run you can check out those paths and trails that you can’t take your bike along. Unless you’re secretly a cheetah, running generally involves travelling at a slower pace than riding your bike, so it’s a great way to take in the views a little more and really enjoy the freedom of being out in nature.
Not only that, taking up running also opens up a whole new community to get involved with. Head down to your local parkrun or running club and you’re sure to find a whole bunch of likeminded people to chat to. Friends made when you’re huffing, puffing and generally looking a bit like a tomato on legs are friends for life. And when it comes to expanding your Herd, we say the more the merrier!
Ready to jog on? We’ll see you out on the trails! If you’re thinking about giving running a go, just make sure you build up slowly and take it easy for those first few weeks. Chances are you’ll have a good level of fitness from your cycling, so it can be tempting to overdo it. Running is a relatively high impact sport and if your body isn’t used to that, it can lead to an increased risk of picking up injuries. Build up slowly and don’t go too far or too fast until you’ve spent a little more time on your hooves.
Happy running, Herd!