by Glenn Hughes
For many runners who suffer injuries, the first thought on how to stay fit is to get in the pool and aqua jog. But if you find the pool tedious and repetitive, you can also maintain fitness by cycling. Of course, getting set up on a bike can be expensive, but once you’re up and running, using the public roads is free. Here are a few pointers on how to stay fit on the bike.
- Get set up on a bike properly. Clip-in pedals and correct positioning help engage the hamstring and gluteus muscles and avoid overusing the quads and back.
- Dress for the conditions. You will find that you overheat going up hills and freeze going downhill. It is better to be too warm that too cold. Gloves are essential.
- You generally need to cycle for four times longer than you would usually run to maintain peak fitness (i.e. if you usually run for 10km, you should try and cycle for at least 40km to get the same benefit). This can be offset by increasing your effort on the bike or riding lots of hills. If you ridein a bunch where you can draft, this will be easier and you may need to cycle for longer. Specialist training sessions for part- time cyclists are generally not required.
- For runners, it is better to remain in the saddle and have high cadence on the bike to maintain a sense of leg speed. Pushing a big gear can leave you sluggish for when you finally return to running.
- Cycling can be time-consuming. Short, high intensity rides or using an indoor trainer for 30 minutes can be a good way to maintain a high heart rate and reduce the need to do longer rides.
When integrating back into running, maintain doing shorter cycles to keep up your usual work rate. You can eventually phase out cycling as your running volume increases (or you might find yourself turning into a duathlete).
Maintaining short cycles whilst running is a good way to keep you interested in cycling and lessen the blow for next time you find yourself having to get back on the bike.
For those fellow part-time runners out there, see you on the start line in Taupo.