Biking – or cycling – might be the very best cross-training for runners.
The rotational movement is exactly the same movement you should be trying to use when you run; so, biking helps train those muscles while giving your legs a break from running.
Any bind of bike will do, although when you are more fit and ready to do the intervals described below, a bike with variable speeds will be helpful.
Don’t have a bike? Try Craigslist. You’ll find great deals. People have grand ideas about getting fit; they buy a nice bike, justifying it because it’s for fitness, but it sits in the garage while they sit on the couch. Lucky you can get a great deal.
Important tip: Whatever your price range, better to get a better quality used bike than a poor quality new bike.
In the beginning, just get out there and ride a few miles. This will help to strengthen different muscles through a greater range of movement. You don’t need to work it during the first few weeks of beginning to run. When you start getting more fit, you can do intervals of spinning alternated with a little resistance at a lower rpm.
Cycling improves cadence. Ideally, on a bike with variable speeds, you want to set the resistance very low and ‘spin,’ which means to use a high rpm, preferably around 90 to 100 revolutions per minute. This is harder than it sounds. Start with an rpm that is a little bit of a challenge and increase it each time out, but don’t try to use that high rpm all the time.
When you have obtained a greater level of fitness, do this:
- Warm-up with a very easy 10 minute ride.
- Next, alternate one minute of high speed spinning, fast enough to be a little uncomfortable, for 1 minute.
- Then increase the resistance a little bit and ride several minutes.
- Then repeat the high speed spinning.
- Continue these intervals for the appropriate number of miles.
A few weeks later, you’ll be ready to step it up to this:
After warm-up, alternate:
- High speed spinning
- Easy riding
- Pushing a higher gear
- Easy riding