The Bike: My Rehab and My Recovery

Cycling can benefit runners for both recovery and training. It aids in recovery by flushing the legs out. A super-easy spin has no impact, and you’re moving blood through the muscles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, cycling can be great for building high-end aerobic training doing intervals. You also can maintain a ton of fitness with riding if you are injured.

-Jenny Hadfield “How To Improve Running Performance With Cycling”

First, let’s talk about why runners should even think about cycling in the first place. Whether you hop on a road bike or a fitness bike at your gym, both are non-impact cross training exercises that help build your engine – your lungs, capillary network, and heart strength. You can keep off unwanted pounds and maintain a pretty good fitness baseline even if you’re just cycling.

-Jason Fitzgerald “Cycling or Spinning? The Best Cross Training for Runners”

I use the stationary bike to rehab injuries and to recover between races. When I was training for Zion 100K last year, I had two separate calf strains over the course of 24 weeks. I rested from running for 8 days each time. This time off did not rock the momentum of my training or cause any fitness setbacks. I sat on the bike each day, while I waited, while I healed.

I also love to use the bike, after a race. I rest completely from all activity for 3-5 days, after each race, depending on how I feel. After that brief period of rest, I usually sit on the bike each day for a week before I get back to running.

At my gym,  I ride a True CS200 upright bike. I break my workout into two parts.

Part I: This part is a hill climbing workout. The hill pattern depends on the day. I like a consistent pattern with climbs and breaks.

  1. I set the bike to manual, so that I can adjust the level and change the height of the climb on the screen.
  2. I set the workout time for 28 minutes. This means that each line segment that appears on the screen is one minute long. It helps me to anticipate the climbs and breaks. 🙂
  3. I like to create a different patten each workout.
  4. Latest example of a workout pattern.
  • 1 minute @ level 9
  • 1 minute @ level 11
  • 1 minute @level 14
  • *repeat for 25 more minutes

Part II: 10-14 minutes. I work on cadence. I choose a few songs on my shuffle, set the bike to manual and ride @ level 10 for the given time. The songs determine my turnover.

There is also a correlation between pedal stroke cadence and running strike cadence. The concept behind this idea is that developing a higher pedal stroke cadence will supposedly lead to a higher foot strike cadence. A higher foot strike cadence means the feet are turning over faster and therefore spending less time in contact with the ground, hence there is supposedly less impact and less chance of injury.

-Jannine Myers “Could Spinning Be the Best Cross Training for Runners?”


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