Can cycling help your running?
I've been a runner for just over a decade and added triathlons into the mix a handful of years ago. I've experimented with different styles of running, looking for what was the most efficient and best at preventing injuries. For me, the Pose Method works the best. It's a running form that emphasizes a focus on falling forward and pulling the leg back up quickly. There's more attention given to the kickback than to the strike. (Look it up....it's GREAT!) But I was inconsistent in my kickback, that pulling up motion, meaning I always end up working too hard on my run.
In my cycling classes, one way we bring efficiency in the pedal stroke is to make sure that we are thinking about pulling the pedal back and up with every stroke, instead of spending all the energy on pushing down. It feels as if you're scraping mud off your shoe at the bottom of the stroke. It's easy to stuck on just the push down, which means you're losing a lot of potential pedal power!
After opening the new studio and teaching so many classes a week, wherein I talk a lot about this focus on efficiency, I've trained this pull-back-and-up move into my legs. I haven't been running a lot lately because of moving and concerts and general schedule craziness, but I have been teaching all of my cycling classes.
Well, yesterday, for the first time in almost a month, I went for a run. And it was fantastic!! I felt so light and my strides felt quick and effortless. Being the training nerd I am, I paid close attention and tried to figure out what had changed. I focused on what my legs were doing and noticed that my kickback was better than it had ever been. I made the connection as I ran that I was using the same motion I've trained into my legs on the bike...pull back and up.
I've always dreaded brick workouts. For the non-triathlete, this is when you go from biking to running in the same workout to train for that transition in your race. They're called brick workouts because when you get off the bike, your legs feel like bricks when you start running. Having had this little breakthrough, I'm excited to try some bricks to see if that lightness stays in my legs!
If you're a runner and are looking for a way to cross-train, I cannot recommend cycling enough! Number one, you can vastly increase your cardiovascular endurance without the impact of running. Number two, you can sign up for duathlons. :) And, finally, it's possible you can improve your running efficiency and strengthen your kickback by training that same move (with resistance) on the bike!
I'll be sure to post results of my brick workouts, running times, and so on. The experiment has begun!