Cross training for runners

April is the month of the London Marathon and lighter longer days! It’s that time of year where many people start taking to the pavement and upping their running game.

However no matter what your running goals are cross training, specifically cycling, has many benefits when wanting to improve on your times, distances and overall running longevity. Adding cycling to your weekly workout plan where you focus on POWER and some interval training, will not only decrease any injuries that arise from repetitive impact but will greatly increase your over all fitness.

Below Ride Republic’s Fitness Director, Rachel Rivers, explains more about how our BURN 45 classes have helped her heal and prevent injuries as well as keep her in the running game.

I used to run a lot, at least four times a week and anywhere between 5-10k each time. I ran mostly for stress release in addition for the cardiovascular health benefits. I rarely did anything else other than run because I was mentally addicted and simply couldn’t break my running routine. Then the dreaded burn out and injuries started to creep up. First my knee started to hurt going up and down stairs, then I pulled a hamstring, which never quite healed, then my “good leg” started to over compensate which left it in a constant state of muscle soreness from over use. I could no longer sprint, my running times and distances went on a downward spiral not to mention my phycisal and mental pain was increasing. I was feeling broken and unbalanced as the thought of giving up running or cardio training was not an option to me.

I then turned my attention to recovery via Pilates and looked to cycling for my cardiovascular health. This was difficult for me at first as I couldn’t “zone out” to music while cycling the streets (or even parks) of London, then I found Ride Republic. It was my perfect answer of combining a low impact biomechanically safe cardio workout while getting to enjoy intense motivating music with no worries of traffic or pedestrian crossings. Due to the clip in shoes we use at Ride, I felt better biomechanically and knew I wasn’t doing more damage to my hamstring. Since Ride focuses on power and gears, my legs quickly got stronger yet did not feel too heavy when running long distances. I also consciously trained my weaker leg more on the bike and gained more power in my glutes, hamstrings and core.

Now I only run 2-3 times a year but when I do I can still perform a 10k at nearly my old times, which just proves how my cross training has kept me in the running game. However, I know I have lost some slow-twitch muscle fibers which are predominantly used in long distance running but increased my fast-twitch muscle fibers and kept my lung capacity strong through several 45 minute BURN classes a week. If I wanted to improve on my running times and distances I would add 1-2 long runs a week a long side  2-3 BURN 45 classes a week. I also always find time for CORE & RESTORE or some type of Pilates or Yoga, mainly for injury prevention and recovery. Even 20 minutes a day of myofascial release, CORE strengthening and some stretching really makes an impact on my performance.

Other cross training tips for runners:

  • Do not substitute cycling for your long run day. Two hours of cycling wouldn’t be recommended as an alternative to the long run. The long run is to prepare your mind and body for your marathon/race.
  • Add power and intervals into your training so you can tap into your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Fast- twitch muscle fibers are needed to maintain muscle force and are very useful when the slow-twitch fibers become depleted late in the race. So if you fail to train your fast-twitch buddies, they won’t be able to come to the rescue late in a long run.
  • Cross training can help to alleviate overtraining symptoms and keep you in training mode in spite of minor injuries and ailments which might otherwise prevent you from training five days a week or more.

Happy Cross Training! Click here to book BURN45 and CORE & RESTORE.


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