Is Cycling A Good Substitute For A Long Run?
Monday, 17 September 2012
From the September 2012 issue of Runner’s World
Our experts have their say
Q Is a long bike ride a good substitute for a long run?
A Sorry, but no. Cycling is an excellent cross-training activity that strengthens your cardiovascular system while saving your joints from impact, but the purpose of the long run is to build muscle endurance, practice your fuel and hydration strategy, and get your body and mind accustomed to logging extended time on your feet. Because cycling is not a weight-bearing activity, even if you ride hard and long, it will not stress your body the same way running does or stimulate the adaptations that will improve your running endurance. When it comes to preparing for half- and full marathons, there’s no substitute for the long run.
– Debbie Voiles, triathlete and coach
Q Can I run a faster 5K or 10K without speedwork?
A Yes – up to a point. If you’re a relatively new runner, you’ll get faster with or without speedwork because when you first start running there is a steep improvement curve. For seasoned, fit-but-not-fast runners, adding mileage and doing things like strength training, eating right, and getting sufficient sleep will help lower your times. But eventually, you will plateau. Fast sessions encourage the physiological adaptations that boost speed. Add fartleks to one or two of your weekly runs to quicken your pace. Pick it up for 30 seconds, four to six times, and gradually build the duration of these pickups to three minutes.
– Matt Wichser, running coach
Q Is it better to take walk breaks on uphills or downhills?
A It depends on how you feel. If you’re tired – or unmotivated – walking the uphills provides a breather that can reinvigorate body and brain. If you’re feeling sore, walk the downhills. It will save your muscles and joints from pounding that can exacerbate your aches and help ensure you’re able to finish the run.
– Mindy Gagliardi, coach
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