Use your bike to run better

Are you a runner? Start riding a bike! :)

I started running in 2008. I used to play competitive football/soccer and when I stopped doing that I had to find something else to do to keep healthy and keep in shape. I started running, as running was often part of soccer training and I thought running was actually fun. I also felt like my competitive spirit would fit very well into running.

When I started running I immediately got great improvements. I was able to run farther and faster just within several months. These immediate improvements resulted in further interest in running. I started running longer and more often. Does this sound familiar?

For many runners this sounds very familiar. And what happened next is also what too many runners are familiar with. I started getting injured. Compartment syndrome, meniscus tear and cartilage damage are hopefully a thing of the past for me.

But still, I have much more challenging running program today than ever before. How do I expect to keep on going and improve my running taking into account the list of injuries?
The answer: run less often and ride the bike more often.

I bought my first bike in 2012. It’s a road bike from Specialized and it was not expensive at all. Going out on the bike is a great way for me to improve my fitness level, increase my stamina and running speed and this actually happens without me going out for a run! :)

A few ways riding the bike will improve running:

  1. Using the bike is great for active recovery. Running tears up muscles and you can use the bike to recover muscle mass faster.
  2. When riding a bike you are strengthening your calves, knees, ankles hips, quad and hamstrings, muscles that are commonly massively torn down during a run.
  3. You can improve your running when going out on a nice and comfy ride. You will improve your running even more if you think of your bike riding as a running practice. In other words, do sprint workouts, tempo “run” workouts and hill workouts. You will be amazed of your running improvements.
  4. By replacing 1-2 running workouts with bike riding workouts you can minimize significantly the risk of running related injuries. Imagine, a 10K run can mean 8-12 thousand steps, so the pounding, monotonous movement of running makes anyone be at risk for injuries.
  5. When injuries are present (they happen to almost all runners), the bike can be a great way to stay in shape, keep stamina and maintain running speed. This way, an injured runner can be ready to compete much sooner than otherwise.

If you decide to start riding the bike, don’t be surprise when getting sore muscles following your first rides. This is a good thing as the body is activating muscle and muscle parts that are generally not used much in running. These muscles or muscles parts may, however, contribute during your running and easily can make you a better runner.

Whether you own a mountain bike, a crossover or a road bike, get on that saddle and improve your running! :)

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