In the endurance world, we tend to stick to our one sport and rarely dabble in any others. Runners run, cyclists spin, swimmers swim, and those crazy triathletes, well, they’re a rare breed. However, if we all spent a few days a week on each other’s turf, we’d be better athletes for it. Especially us die-hard runners, cross training could be our magical key to running better.
If you’re like me, you may have doggy-paddled through some laps in your running career and declared that swimming is really a difficult sport that requires some instruction to reap the most benefits from. However, the bike hasn’t proven to be such a challenge. In fact, cycling has been my secret weapon for running. Maybe you should check it out, too.
One of the best benefits I get from cycling is that I take the intense impact that running causes off my body, while still getting an awesome workout. My body works hard on my bike, sometimes harder than it does during an intense run, yet not once do I slam the full force of my body weight into the ground. My muscles get a workout, but I can give my joints a break for a day. This turns me into a more refreshed runner for the next workout.
Another great plus to getting on my bike is how my muscles get exercised. Running uses the same set of muscles over and over. By changing up the routine, new muscles get a shot to get strong and they’ll actually complement my running as they will strengthen my overall performance. Some of the best athletes are the ones who still have their backs straight at mile 24 of a marathon. They get that strength from those extra muscles they’ve been strengthening throughout training.
A lesser thought of benefit of cycling is simply the change of pace. Breaking up the routine can keep away boredom and burnout. It’s difficult to keep a zeal for something if you do it everyday. And running with dread can kill a performance. Replacing a few runs a week with a bike ride can keep a runner fresh and roaring to take on the next run.
There are countless reasons a runner should ride. If your running’s been lacking, maybe you should unlace your shoes and go air up your tires.