Training

The Real Reasons Biking Is Worth It For Runners

Runners share their insights as to how mountain biking compliments running.

Photo: Adam Campbell
Photo: Adam Campbell

Women’s Running had the opportunity to go mountain biking with Cannondale bikes. Between rides, Brent Astrope and Kevin Willy, mountain bike coaches and resort guides, shared their insights as to how mountain biking compliments running.

No doubt—in order to become a better runner you have to run. But what if you’re injured, have finally realized the value of cross training or just want to try something new? Go for it! With so many options it can be hard to decide, but cycling, while working different major muscle groups than running, meshes with running as a non-pounding way to log long cardio sessions. Plus, hopping on a mountain bike opens a new wealth of terrain worth exploring and adrenaline-pumping action—don’t forget your helmet!

Recently Women’s Running had the opportunity to go mountain biking at Deer Valley in Utah. Between rides, Brent Astrope and Kevin Willy, mountain bike coaches and guides at the resort, shared their insights as to how mountain biking compliments running.

Benefits overall fitness

Whether you can’t run due to an injury or want to add longer cardio sessions with less impact, biking is a low-impact way to maintain and build overall fitness. What you lose in sport specific conditioning, you gain in total body fitness.

Cover more miles

Ever wondered what the trail was like just past your standard turnaround point? Taking to the trails on a mountain bike lets you find out and explore. Being on a bike gives you a fresh perspective—we bet you’ll notice things you’ve never seen before.

You can do running workouts on a bike

Long and slow, hills, fartleks—you can make all of these happen on a bike. Use a watch or your bike computer to track time and distance as needed and choose routes accordingly. A rolling, cross country route mixed with fire roads replicates an LSD run, pedaling up and bombing down makes hill workouts fun and you can pick up the pace for speed work whenever the trail allows.

Cadence carries

Even though you aren’t working the exact same muscles, cycling is a smooth and efficient way to up leg turnover and awaken fast-twitch systems in your body. Cadence will vary depending terrain, but much like the magic run cadence number of 180, striving for 90 or so pedal strokes per minute is a solid goal. As you adjust to the feel of a faster turnover on the bike, you’ll be able to transfer it to running.

Practice strategy

Just like a long run, a long ride requires thought—route, how to pace yourself, what to eat and drink when and preparation. Sure, two wheels may make the ride smoother, but you still have to put in the sweat effort and save enough energy to get yourself home!