Friday, September 16, 2016

Why Cycling is a Good Cross-Training Choice for Runners

I've been a "runner" for 41 years, beginning at the age of 10 during America's running boom of the mid-1970's. For all of those years I've preferred cycling as my primary cross-training activity. I grew up in Alaska and then lived in the mountains of western Montana for 31 years, so mountain biking was something I did often. Now, I live in the flat terrain of Indiana surrounded by fields of corn and I find it more difficult to get quite the same cycling workout that I used to get in the mountains. However, I still prefer cycling over any other cross-training method.

Cycling primarily works the quadriceps, a big muscle group that running doesn’t effectively work. Insufficient strength in the quads can allow the knees to buckle on landing during the foot-plant phase. This is the primary cause for the up-and-down bobbing motion seen in some runners, which can lead to patella tendinitis and other knee problems. Cycling can help with that.

Cycling also works the outer hips and gluteus medius muscles, which are crucial for running. These muscles help keep the hips from swaying outward on the landing phase. When this happens, the iliotibial band (a thick strip of connective tissue on the outside of the leg) is pulled tight, which can result in knee and hip pain. Again, cycling can help with this.

When I lived out west my favorite mountain biking route was the Hiawatha Trail in Idaho, a 25-mile round trip course through the heart of the Northern Idaho mountains. Since relocating to Indiana, I've enjoyed cycling the Nickel Plate Trail (part of the American Discovery Trail system) and the Panhandle Pathway.

Cycling is non-impact, so you can recover quicker from the sessions. If you're looking for a cross-training activity to your running, consider taking your bike out. Cycling trains several muscles that compliment the main muscles used for running and it also increases your cardio. Add some rolling to your running routine!

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.