Guest contributor Jennifer Dawson tackles the topic of cross training in this informative article.
Take Up Cycling To Improve Your Trail Running Fitness
Did you know that cycling can make you a better trail runner? With the Magaliesberg Challenge and the Merrell Spring Night Series fast approaching, time is running out to up your speed and endurance levels. While there are many tips and tricks that will see you become fitter over time, cycling is one of the best options available to help you peak at the right time for your dream event. According to Johannesburg-based physiotherapist and experienced runner, Toni Hesp, cutting down on your running mileage and incorporating cycling into your routine can see you become stronger, faster and fitter overall. If you are still not convinced of the merits of cycling as part of a trail-running fitness plan, have a closer look at the individual benefits before discarding the idea in its entirety.
Cycling can improve your endurance
If there is one thing every trail runner needs plenty of, it’s endurance. While you can’t entirely escape doing frequent runs, you can reduce them somewhat if needed by engaging in long, slow cycle rides instead. The beauty of cycling is that you don’t have to take to the road to reap the benefits. You can even cycle in the comfort of your home if you invest in a bike trainer or exercise bike or, alternatively, join your local gym. A good way to improve your endurance is to employ the 10:1 brick workout which entails you cycling 10 kilometres for every 1 kilometre you run. You can adjust these distances accordingly, taking your own fitness levels into consideration.
Cycling improves strength
Cross-training activities such as cycling are imperative to boost your power and strength as running results mainly in building lean muscle. It may be true that cycling and running both work similar muscle groups, but by adding cycling to your workouts you can effectively tackle muscle imbalances and significantly improve your strength. When you run, your strength mainly comes from your calves, hip flexors, and hamstrings while your quads and glutes can expect a good workout from cycling, giving you a very valuable workout.
Cycling may reduce the risk of injury and aid your recovery
It is no secret that trail running is a high-impact sport that places substantial stress on your hips and lower extremities, making overuse injuries such as Achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis very common. Spending more time on a bicycle can counter your gruelling running workouts, allowing your body to recover adequately. Start out by introducing cycling as a form of active recovery on your off-days or easier days, slowly increasing the distance and frequency of your rides.
Whether you are training to become a record-breaking trail runner or simply partake in it as a pastime, you can benefit by including cycling into your fitness routine. You might end up enjoying it so much that, apart from being an ardent trail runner, you see yourself aiming to complete the next Argus Cycle Tour as well.