How running in the winter can make you a better cyclist
When winter kicks in with freezing temperatures, icy winds, and a whole lot of rain and snow, it can be more than a little difficult to keep up your cycling schedule. Running can help you maintain your aerobic fitness without getting bored. Read on to find out more about how you, as a cyclist, can benefit from swapping your bicycle for a pair of running shoes during the winter.
Effective and time-efficient training
Running is far more effective and time efficient than cycling when it comes to what you gain from the time you put into the workout. This means you’ll have more time for family, work, or the core training that you spent your summer avoiding.
Be careful not to overdo it by putting as much time into your runs as you do your rides — you’ll just end up injured within a few weeks.
The off-season is the best time to start running but you can start anytime. You’ll come back to the bike stronger and with better overall fitness.
Enjoy the break
Running can give you a refreshing mental and physical break from a tiring season with long hours in the saddle. That’s why you see the pros running after a succesful season.
This is your off-season, so relax, enjoy it, and keep it fun. Remember that running is supposed to be a break from cycling, not another competitive endeavor. Save the competition for your main sport and meet the spring in good shape and with plenty of motivation to pick up your cycling training right where you left off (or even a little bit ahead).
One all-to-common mistake that a lot of cyclists make is never varying their training. This lack of variation leads to unbalanced and over-specialized muscles with major weaknesses. Running allows you to work out muscles that cycling misses (and it gives a little bit of a break to areas that have been getting too much attention, allowing them to heal up). It’s especially effective in curing what’s known as a “lazy leg,” cycling slang for when you let whichever foot is pushing down on the pedal lift the other one up rather than using your thigh muscles to actively lift the foot. This wastes energy and slows you down. Building up those muscles by running will help speed you back up.
When supplementing your cycling with running, you will end up with stronger bones. Cycling is not weight-bearing, which means it doesn’t put any stress your bones. If you think that sounds great, you’re wrong — this stress leads to a higher bone density. This lowers your risk of broken bones and other health problems associated with low bone density.
When you start running you might notice sore muscles you haven’t felt before. Of course, your legs are going to be a little tired, but you’ll also feel some soreness in your abdominal muscles and your back — muscles that you use to keep nice running posture. You’ll be thankful for your new core strength when you head out for the longer rides on the bike; stronger core muscles means you won’t come home with a backache.
Keep your weight down
Arriving home after a long ride absolutely starving is an all-too-familiar experience for most cyclists, and with all the calories burned from an afternoon on the bike, you can satiate that hunger guilt-free. Unfortunately, a summer without needing to watch calories often means putting on a few pounds when the bike goes into hibernation. As one of the most energy-intensive sports, running can help you stay trim and healthy until it’s time to take the bike back out.
A barrier for many cyclists is that they despise running. That might even be why they took up cycling in the first place. To make running a successful, you’ll have to make it fun to run. Here are five tips to make your run more fun and motivational:
– Have a realistic goal that can be adjusted according to your everyday challenges. Don’t have too high ambitions to start out with, but be grateful for the runs you log and reward yourself for it.
– Hit the trails and make the forest your playground. Run around in the hills, jump over the logs, and splash through the mud. It’s so much fun and a great way to vary the strain on your legs.
– Make an appointment with one of your cycling buddies. It’s a lot more fun to run together — especially if you’re struggling with getting out of the door.
– Are you going crazy from the sound of your own breathing? Then listen to music as you run. Studies show that the right music (something with a fast, steady beat) can even make you run faster.
– Varying your running routines will keep it interesting to head out the door for a run. Try different running types like hills sprints, interval training, and track and field or trail running. Try something new by investigating your neighborhood for opportunities.
Be careful not to overdo it
As a cyclist, you need to be aware that running carries a high risk of getting injured because joints, ligaments, and muscles need time to adapt to running. Runners are some of the most injury-prone athletes and it’s often due to doing too much too soon. If you’re in good condition from cycling, you’ll experience that your cardiovascular system enables you to run pretty long and fast — don’t be tempted to overdo it.
Start small with short walk/runs and work up slowly. Take your time to adapt and listen to your body’s signals; rest when you need to.
A good tip is to keep up the running routine during your racing or riding season, just once a week, to help keep things in balance so you don’t need to start all over when you reach off-season again next year.
Obviously when you are nearing a big event you’ll want to taper off your running for a few weeks, but otherwise keep it up year-round.
For a lot of us, winter is hard. Summer is the season of trail rides and competitions, and it’s easy to forget about conditioning when snow and ice forces you put your bike away. But this year, winter doesn’t need to be the season of sitting around and waiting to get back out — it’s time to tie your running shoes and run towards an even fitter body.
Popular GripGrab Running Products
Hi-Vis Running Essentials
The Hi-Vis Running Essentials gift box is the perfect gift for the dedicated winter runner and contains the must-haves to keep the head, hands, and neck warm on the cold winter runs.
Running Expert Hi-Vis
The Running Expert Hi-Vis is a high-end running glove, which provides excellent insulation combined with exceptional breathability and visibility. EasyTouch and touch screen compatible fingertips make it possible to handle smartphones without taking the gloves off.
The Running Thermo is a warm, windproof running glove for running in moderate to very cold weather. The windproof cover can quickly be pulled out from the pocket when needed and tucks away with ease. The Running Thermo features sweat wiper, silicone grip and is even touch screen compatible.
Photo credits: Martin Paldan
GripGrab is based on a passion for cycling and running and the dream of building a brand of products that makes these sports enjoyable no matter how cold, wet or windy it is. Great quality accessories make the difference between being too hot, or too cold, between being wet or dry, aerodynamic or flappy and between being seen or not seen. These are the products we live and breathe for.