Off season fitness
Let's be honest, when the temperatures drop to a certain level, not many of us are hopping on our bikes to head out for a ride. Consequently, cyclists are always looking for off season exercises that will benefit their cycling come spring. In general, running is an effective cross-training method for cyclists. However, before jumping into running there are many factors to consider. These factors include your age, goals, physical history and type of cycling you do.
As with almost any physical activity, going too hard, too long or too frequently can lead to injury. However, the right mix of cross-training through running can extend your career and improve your performance greatly.
Increased bone density
Cycling is a fantastic non-impact sport that can increase cardiovascular health and fitness. However, weight bearing activities are necessary for increasing bone density. Bone density usually begins its decline in adults in their 30's. However, when you participate in weight-bearing activities like running, dancing or jumping, your body automatically triggers a series of reactions to activate muscles and strengthen the bones. Stronger bones could likely mean a longer, less injury prone, cycling career.
Bone density isn't the only benefit of running. Running as a cross-training exercise also provides a completely different aerobic experience for a cyclist, leading to increased capacities and muscular endurance. In particular, at the beginning of the season for roadies, running can increase cardiovascular fitness at a much faster rate than cycling alone.
In addition to cardiovascular health, running increases hamstring and glute strength, as well as improved and strengthened postural muscles. These muscular benefits are particularly helpful for mountain bikers and cyclocross racers who depend on not just aerobic strength, but also muscular endurance to climb technical steep hills, mount/dismount the bike, and pick up and carry their bikes.
The frequency and intensity of your runs will depend both on your age and the season. In the middle of the race season, the benefits of a recovery day may outweigh the benefits of a run, especially for older athletes.
Most people benefit from taking a break from their primary sport to do other activities that refresh them physically and mentally. Additionally, running is a great exercise for cyclists who are traveling - it's much easier to pack a pair of running shoes than a bike. Running also allows you to mentally check out more than cycling. Especially on busy roads or technical trails, cycling requires a tremendous amount of focus and caution, which can lead to exercise and training fatigue. Consequently, shutting off your brain for a short run may be just the thing needed to allow you to nail your next tough cycling workout.
Information found on active.com.