Running is weird in that many people specifically look for cross training, aka different sports to help with their running, as “cross training for runners” is an industry in itself. I recently discovered cycling as killer, and I mean killer, cross training for runners. Other than I neeeed to start cycling for that Ironman 70.3 in August, I’ve found that I’ve dramatically improved my running during the short time I’ve used Paula, my Trek road bike mounted to a trainer, as cross training. By dramatically, I mean my “easy pace” went from around a 8:00 mile to around a 7:45 in about a month.
Change of Pace
I love running for the sake of running, but there are days in which I don’t want to go out for a run because I’m tired, it’s icy, or I’m having a case of the “fucks it”. This usually leads me to a very intense hour on Paula, my Trek road bike (don’t worry, my friends have let me have it for her name). It’s ironic that cross training for runners leads to inherently wanting to find a different sport, but sometimes you need a mental break.
Cycling Uses Different Muscles
It uses legs muscles, but, at least for me, it uses different ones. I have strong calves. I went from “barefoot” running to zero drop shoes. They feel like rocks. I don’t really need to do more work on the calves. Some people do. Me, I need more work on my booty, hammies, and quads. My quads hurt like motherfuckers from Bigfoot, and cycling was like an angel massaging the hell out of my quads. I feel like I’m missing “power” to my running and cycling assists in my quest to form a booty. Thusly, it’s another feather in the cap of being awesome cross training for runners.
It Gets you Competitive for Something Else
Cross training for runners becomes training when you delve into multi-sports, or otherwise known personally as a “triathlon”. Cycling and running are two parts of that tri. This can keep you interested in your everyday training grind, to try similar, yet new!, sports.
Gets You Ready for More!
This part is harder to explain because you kind of have to feel it for yourself. I feel more “whole” as a runner if I’ve had two or three rides per week. It my muscles seem more even, my breathing is much easier (at times I’ve felt like I’m barely having to suck in air while running; how that happens, I haven’t the foggiest). Cycling is an AWESOME! sport for cross training for runners as it makes you a better all-around runner. And in a masochistic way, it makes you handle the burn from running hard and long. I rarely even experience my muscles burning while running, except for speed workouts, hills, and races, but cycling has that constant burn. Burn. The feeling that if it isn’t burning, you might as well get off her. And then it stops once you do. It’s only mental. Power through it. Cross training for runners? More like brain training for runners.