Breaking away from your favorite sport once in a while can be freeing. The brain and the body need variety every now and then. Running is a natural choice for most cyclists because of several factors.
Running lays out a different view of the surroundings. It gives you a fresh and grounded perspective. Also, sports enthusiasts coined the term runners’ high for a reason. The unique elevated sense when on maximum feet speed is nothing like anything you can get from enduring power meter cycling.
When you compare a cyclist and a runner’s body, it’s on the lower extremities where you notice a significant difference. Cyclists tend to have more muscular-looking thighs and legs compared to runners. But when you check the rest of the body, runners have the advantage of having a more balanced look. Running works the entire body. Runners carry their whole weight and lift it every step they take, which puts the leg muscles, hamstrings, and glutes to work, including the entire body core. Thus giving them a leaner appearance compared to cyclists.
But the demands of running can be weight-bearing. While running has a place for every athlete wanting to gain more endurance from cardiovascular activity, it doesn’t do that much good for cyclists. Here are a couple of things you should know why you may want to skip on running if you’re training to be a stronger cyclist:
Impact on knees
Running is a high-impact sport. Every time you lift your leg off the ground, the other leg takes in the entire weight of your body. While this may increase bone density in the long run, the short-run leads to muscle damage and soreness. This puts a lot of pressure on your knees and surrounding muscle groups.
Studies have shown that those who make running as part of their daily fitness routine have better chances of increasing bone mass density. But to be a better cyclist, you need to be building upon muscles to sustain the long and winding bike rides on the road. You get your pedal power from your muscle tissues. When you come across uneven and steep terrains, you’ll need all the muscle power you can get to push through.
Cycling engages and strengthens the complementary muscle groups on the thighs to allow you to move smoother and give you faster leg turnover. It doesn’t concentrate the pressure on your knees too much because cycling doesn’t cause any kind of impact on them while you’re riding. There’s less joint pain to cycling compared to running.
Less concentrated movement reduces injury
The act of running involves the entire body, while cycling focuses on specific parts only. Because of this focused movement, cyclists can pace their breathing better than runners can which allow them to pedal across hundreds of miles faster. Running is challenging not just for your feet but mainly for your lungs. Cycling provides better cardio training that can help you take deep breaths during hard terrains and keep you calm.
Running takes a lot more from the body. The continuous foot pounding can increase the risk of you acquiring a chronic injury later on. The effects of running on the body accumulate so you must be more cautious if you’ve chosen it as your part of your fitness routine. You can opt to use supporting muscle tapes to prevent wearing and tearing away your bones too much from the daily impact load.
As for cycling, the legs are more restricted to move along a specific path. There not much contribution from the rest of the body, which means lower consumption and requirement from stored elastic energy. And because running consumes more internally from your body, it also makes you consume more externally. After a long duration of burning calories, your body automatically goes into a kind of eating rage. Compared to biking, it burns lower in a shorter amount of time, so you eat less but cover longer mileage.
Develops better motor skills
It’s not to say that running doesn’t come with any benefits for cyclists. Runners have it easier in terms of convenience. There are places where you can’t bring your bicycle with you. If that’s the case, then you may have to adjust your workout regimen and make room for running. The aerobic fitness that running provides can help you maintain your edge. Also, when it’s offseason for biking, running is always the closest alternative.
Running does not deter cycling performance. But it will, at some point, reduce your upper body reflexes if you stay away from the bike for too long. To be a better bike rider, you have to bike more to navigate terrains at an optimum level. When you run, you don’t use your hands as much as you do when biking. Legs, hands, and shoulders are all integral parts of cycling.
Bike handling skills and situational awareness, especially when moving through rough surfaces, are equally essential. The more you ride, the more these skill sets develop. Running does not allow you to increase these levels or acquire an optimized pedal stroke—only a bike can.