Running with Cycling

I want to become a better, faster runner. Will cycling on the bike for a steady but reasonably hard pace for 30mins once a week contribute?

I run the 5k, if that means anything. 


  • I'm a novice at both, but having been doing Spin classes and riding my new bike, I can definitely confirm that my leg strength has improved over recent weeks, which has in turn improved my running..... to the point that I can actually now do it, as opposed to beforeimage

  • Dr.DanDr.Dan ✭✭✭

    If you skip running sessions for bike, you'll probably be worse off. If you add bike as an extra, it will probably help. So, if you run 30 mpw, add it a bit of bike ... don't drop down to 20 mpw to compensate.

  • If it is as an addition, yes, an hour plus would be better. You can also use the triathlete's cheat, which is to bike then run. It fools the body into thinking it has run for longer, because the heart, lungs and muscles are still working, but without the impact.

    What Dan says is not necessarily true - it will still work you cardivascularly, and importantly it also strengthens the opposite quad muscles to those used in running, so can help to balance out any weakness ther - that is why I initially took up cycling.

    One thing to watch is that if you start using cleats and bike shoes is that you don't start turning your knees in, especially whilst running, and a few months after it is worth getting you gait checked to ensure that you haven't started pronating, which is common for runners who take up cycling with cleats. 

  • Not sure that a brick session is a "cheat". For me the most important thing about a brick session is to get my legs used to the change-over between disciplines so I don't shuffle along like I'm 90 at the start of a triathlon run, not to make my body think its run further than it has.

    As others have said, cycling in addition to running may help (provided you still get enough rest & recovery), however I know when I am doing multi-sport training, the improvements in each discipline come along more slowly. Elite runners do other training such as core work etc. but spend the vast majority of their training running, and I've not heard many of them talk about cycling. There must be a reason.

    I would say, cycling would improve your all round fitness, I'm not sure it will help the running massively though.

  • Agree with Dr Dan. Use it in addition to your running or as part of a recovery from injury.

  • Marc.SMarc.S ✭✭✭
    Biking can help running since it builds muscle, running alone will hurt your cycling since it strips muscle. But like people say, you need to do the, as well, not instead of. (unless like birkmyre said its for injury recovery etc)
  • @exiled claret - Not exactly a "brick session" : A brick session you do both hard and, yes, practice the changeover. A cheat session, is e.g. you're supposed to do a 2 hour run, so you do 90min cycle in same HRZ as long run pace, then 30 min run at long run pace. It is used by runners and triathletes who are injury prone, and want to train for e.g. marathons. I use both bricks and these sessions very differently in my training for half marathon.

  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    I've found that cycling really had a impact on running.  After a long bike ride running a couple of days later is much harder than normal.

    I thought I would adapt, but it's been months and still an issue.

    I don't intend to give up/reduce either, but running is much harder work that it was before I started cycling.

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    I doubt (but I wouldn't really know to be honest!) whether elite runners would do much cycling at all, simply because they're at the stage of being at about 99% of their potential aerobic fitness.  But even at a fairly high level I know runners (i.e. a 2:19 marathon runner at my club) who will use cycling as a complementary activity, possibly in the place of an additional easy run. 

    IMO if you're a long way from your potential cardiovascular fitness there's definitely a place for cycling in addition to whatever running you're doing, with the caveats mentioned above about getting adequate rest/recovery... that's an art in itself; as you get fitter on the bike a given mileage/intensity will take less time to recover from.

  • Thanks for the replies!

    Reading through everything im going to do a 30 minute workout on the bike once a week, in addition to my running, gives my joints a rest to and at the end of the day it will improve my cardio and overall leg power.


  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    Ive just started adding spinning to my running and swimming (with a view to doing a triathlon at some point). Early impression is that the recovery part of the pedla cycle is activating hammies and glutes more.

    I get the sense of being able to lengthen running stride without overstriding. I havent pushed the pace up but start to find existing paces a bit easier - possibly due to better running economy as a result. We'll see.

  • ChimneyChimney ✭✭✭

    Dancing in Spikes, what you said about watching your gait perhaps answers a different wear pattern I've noticed on my trainers since I started biking. Hmm, need to look further into that one.

    If reality matched intention I'd know I was dreaming
  • Re-hashing an old thread as opposed to starting a new one, I've just got a road bike and am hoping to get out on it now in addition to my running. (I run, my partner cycles, and we never seem to see each other. He refuses to run so I thought I'd try cycling so we could actually spend some time together!)

    I was wondering if cycling would help bring my HR down when running? I know I should run with HR at or lower than 70% to 'train' my heart to perform more efficiently but anyone who's ever done this knows you spend a lot of time walking at the start (or is that just me?!) As cycling is much 'easier' than running (in that my HR is much lower) would this be a way of avoiding the walking? 


  • SideBurnSideBurn ✭✭✭


    What are you asking?

    Using the bike as a warm up excercise? Or using the bike to improve your base fitness?

    In my opinion, backed by personal experience, you can improve your base fitness for running using cycling. The problem is that you use your muscles in a different way when running as opposed to cycling.

    The effect of too much cycling as training for running is injuries and severe cramp.

    So as long as you get your cycling/running ratio correct there is no problem.But you will need to experiment as to the correct ratio. My thoughts being that the longer you intend to race the more cycling will help. But injuries will be a problem.

    I will find an article and post a link for you as regards the 'use your muscles differently' statement.

  • Sorry - I meant to use cycling to improve base fitness, so I'm fitter for running (does that make sense?) Improving stamina rather than 'speed' so more as training for half maras / maras than 5ks.

    Would be very interested on reading a 'using your muscles differently' article if you can find it - thanks!

  • SideBurnSideBurn ✭✭✭

    What a day image

    Sorry it has taken a while; a quick re-cap has reminded me this is more of a 'running for cyclists' article than a 'cycling for running' one. Hopefully it is still of use to you;

  • SideBurn - many thanks! A bit of a complicated read, but very interesting. Looks like running helps with cycling, so hopefully it works the other way as well.

  • SideBurnSideBurn ✭✭✭

    I am certain it does, I ran a hilly 15 miler last year with no running training for 3 months(because of injury) I was 1 minute slower than the year before when I targeted the same event as an A race with lots of training. If it was not for a monumental cramp near the end I would have equalled my time.

    I am not suggesting that you can replace your running training with cycling, but I now do my training in hours not miles. As a means to build 'base miles' cycling is great.

    I do seem to be injury prone, whether this is because I am a bit of a dick when it comes to speed-work, (I get carried away) or because a lack of conditioning due to not enough running, who knows? 

  • Yes, definitely. I gave up running, started cycling, and became a faster runner, once I also took up stretching. I call it Cyclo-Stretch-Running or CSR for short.
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