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Home arrow Fitness arrow Cycling arrow Does Biking Help With Running? Benefits and Strategies for Runners

Does Biking Help With Running? Benefits and Strategies for Runners

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
HR_author_photo_Edna
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: May 18, 2023
6 min read 810 Views 0 Comments
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Biking and running are two cardio workouts with a ton of health benefits, but does one help the other? Learn what biking might do for your running performance and whether it’s worth combining the two activities in your overall training regimen.

does biking help with running

Biking and running are two forms of aerobic training. They both get your heart pumping, your blood flowing, and your leg muscles working hard.

Biking is a low-impact exercise that puts less pressure on the joints, while running is a high-impact exercise that adds significant stress. Both activities provide equal aerobic benefits and boost overall fitness levels, but many prefer one or the other.

And in some cases, people like to combine biking with running. Why? Keep reading as we discuss the perks, downsides, and best workouts for the avid runner turned cyclist.

Does Biking Help With Running?

Biking can boost your running performance by building endurance, increasing stamina, and improving overall cardiovascular fitness. It also aids muscle strength to support your runs, as cycling works many of the same muscle groups in the lower body as running.

Another bonus is that biking is low-impact, contrasting the high impact of running. It gives your muscles and bones a break from the heavy strain, which might help to reduce your risk of injury to the legs and hips.

You might soon achieve faster run times as you raise your fitness level and strengthen your muscles with biking.

Combining Running and Cycling Training

Creating a cross-training plan that combines running and cycling is great for building strength and improving your form in both activities. They activate the same muscle groups, but each targets the muscle from a different position. The muscles in biking complement the muscles you need for running, so it’s a win-win.

On cycling days, you’ll give your body a break and time to recover from intensive runs. When you’re feeling tired and overworked from a hard run, you can unwind with a cycling session that takes the strain off your body rather than skipping a day’s exercise entirely.

You can alternate training days, switching from cycling to running to match your lifestyle.

Can cycling replace running?

You can’t replace running with cycling if your goal is to be a better runner. If running is your main sport, you should continue to focus your attention there and not overdo it when cycling. Switching between the two is more beneficial to acquire the perks from both, as one can support the other. Think of cycling as an alternative to running rather than a replacement.

7 Benefits of Cycling for Runners

Now that you know that cycling might fit in well with your running plan, let’s review the benefits in more detail. Here are 7 key reasons to consider cycling to make you a stronger runner.

#1 Improved cardio endurance

Better cardiovascular fitness is a top health benefit of cycling. It improves basic aerobic endurance and may be especially beneficial for beginners who find it hard to run at a low intensity. These benefits can promote greater endurance for your runs. You can give your heart and lungs an effective workout and take a long, steady ride to build endurance.

#2 Cross-training

Pairing biking and running is an effective cross-training tool essential to any running plan. Cross-training targets unused muscle groups, builds cardio endurance, and prevents repetitive strain injury. It also puts less stress on your feet to limit injury risk.

Ultimately, it’s a wonderful way to add flexibility to your training regimen if you do get injured.

Additionally, studies show that cross-training can improve competitive performance in a particular sport. This is good news for those who want to run faster and partake in competitive running, such as marathon training.

#3 Better recovery

Cycling can speed up injury recovery time by stimulating blood flow and flushing out the legs. The constant pedal motion keeps blood moving through the muscles while putting less stress on the overall body. As there is little impact, you may be able to ride with some common running injuries.

#4 Strengthening complementary muscles

Running works certain muscle groups. Eventually, you might reach a point where you’re no longer seeing the results. While cycling works the same muscles, it works them differently. The alternative muscle activation complements those you’re already using for running.

The result is all-around stronger muscle groups for a more powerful performance.

#5 Improved running form

The steady and consistent motion you keep when riding a bike mimics the running motion. This can transfer to your runs and help you work on your form. It also builds core strength, balance, and good posture, which can also improve your running form.

The proper running form makes you more efficient and ensures you get the most out of every workout.

#6 Increased running pace

A major bonus for many runners is that cycling can make you faster at running. Stronger muscles from the additional training give you the physical power to move at a faster pace for more extended periods. You will notice the difference primarily in your lower body muscles.

On top of this, biking builds anaerobic endurance and increased power that can translate into faster runs.

#7 Your training is more exciting

You might tire of running day after day, but you can keep things interesting when you cross-train. For example, you can go for a long run, but cycling allows you to go even further. There is the opportunity to explore new terrains and venture away from your usual routes.

Running has positive effects on mental well-being, but it is mentally challenging. Some call it a mental sport because it takes drive, motivation, and self-discipline. Cycling is less demanding. It can help your mind relax from running as you travel around and enjoy the refreshing scenery.

Cons of Biking for Runners

There doesn’t appear to be a downside to biking and running. The most likely problem to arise is that it can be a struggle at first. Your body needs time to adapt as you switch from running to cycling and vice versa. But you can expect to transform and find it easier in time.

As biking is slightly more dangerous, there is also the injury risk to consider. It’s important that you don’t overwork yourself when biking and cause injury that disrupts your running schedule.

You should aim to find the right balance between both sports and ensure you make time for rest days. It’s crucial for active individuals and athletes to have a recovery plan in place to improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and alleviate boredom.

3 Cycling Workouts for Runners

You can get creative with your training plan to incorporate a mixture of cycling and running. Here are three examples to help you build strength, speed, and endurance alongside running workouts.

  • Hill reps in a big gear to build strength: After warming up, locate a big hill and begin climbing at a steady pace before pushing as hard as possible for 10–20 pedal strokes. Return to the bottom of the hill and recover, then repeat the workout four more times.
  • Interval cycling to build speed: Start with a leisurely pace before pedaling as fast as you can for 8–10 one-minute intervals, with a two-minute recovery time in between.
  • Ride further for longer to build endurance: Double the length of your bike ride. For example, instead of riding for an hour, ride for two hours at a low intensity.

FAQs

Does biking make you run faster?

Adding biking to your exercise schedule can help make you a faster runner. Riding a bike outdoors or riding a stationary bike activates your muscles differently than running. The result is greater muscle strength and endurance, enhancing your overall running performance.

Does biking help with running endurance?

Biking can increase your running endurance because it strengthens your cardiovascular health. As an aerobic exercise, biking challenges your heart and lungs. With regular training, you can gradually increase the distance, speed, and time you run.

Are cyclists good runners?

Being a cyclist doesn’t automatically make you a good runner. Nevertheless, you will have a strong cardiovascular system and leg muscles if you cycle regularly, two factors that will serve you well when you try running.

How do you combine running and cycling?

You can couple running and cycling by allocating set days for each activity. For example, you might run twice a week and cycle three times a week on alternate days. It’s best to avoid a heavy running and cycling session on the same day, as this may lead to overexertion.

A Word From a Personal Coach

Biking and cycling are cardio workouts that work the entire body, including the lower and upper body muscles. You can combine them to reach your fitness goals, as both deliver strong results.

Running is better for weight loss because it burns more calories than cycling, which can help decrease overall body fat. Cycling is a great alternative to running when you want to minimize stress on your bones and joints while continuing to strengthen and tone the muscles.

Instead of running with sore legs, you could go for a low-intensity ride. Adding cycling to your routine will also give you a new challenge and a mental break from running. You can explore different types of cycling to find your favorite, such as mountain biking and road biking.

It can be challenging initially, but the human body adapts to whatever exercise you do frequently.

Conclusion

Pairing cycling and running can help you get better results overall. They work similar muscles but in different ways that complement one another. You may develop better form, experience fewer injuries, and recover faster when you add biking to your regimen.

For many runners, it’s simply a good way to switch up a tedious training routine to boost motivation and keep things interesting.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
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Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
HR_author_photo_Edna
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: May 18, 2023
6 min read 810 Views 0 Comments
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