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Running to Biking

holkerholker Posts: 88
Hi All, I was wondering if anyone with a running background could share experiences of converting to cycling. i'm a club runner (average ability) with a background in X/C, road relays, 10Ks 1/2 marathons. Over the years I've had injuries that have limited my ability to train/race and find myself doing more and more cycling. However I'm a little disappointed by my performance on the bike. I seem to have decent endurance, and am able to get up hills including lake district climbs, all be it slowly, but my overall average pace is slow and I don't have a lot of power. A typical example is today. 30 miles, avg speed 15.5 mph, slowed a little by a head wind on way home, 1200' climbing, average cadence 97. I'm in my fifties so i don't suppose I'm ever going to get mega fast butI feel I should be doing better. My main problem seems to holding a decent pace over prolonged distances. How have other ex runners fared?

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  • Power comes with time - I found I was averaging similar speeds when I first started (I started for the same reasons - injury). I found just gradually increasing the length of rides and doing hill reps helped me with my power. I also find that cycling has helped my running - can run longer and harder now. You may want to try some brick sessions later on - do a ride followed by either a long slow run or a shorter, faster paced effort e.g 20miles on the bike hard followed by a 3-6 miler.

    All the same principles I found (I'm sure others on here may say different) but from a runners point of view:

    Intervals and hill reps improve your speed and power for running and longer slower efforts improve endurance. Whilst you may be a fast and/or powerful runner, cycling does recruit the muscles differently. I spent last winter doing a hilly 10miles all out last winter. Was dead at the end but helped me a lot. Each to their own. I do triathlon now and find what I do helps me. I'm not training for a 150mile sportive. I'm doing 20 - 50 miles after a 400m - 1.5km swim with a 10km - half marathon on the end!

    Hope that helps. Also have you had a good bike fit? I had mine re-fitted and I got much more power (I say that, I don't have a power meter but I was able to go faster for longer without soreness).
  • Ber NardBer Nard Posts: 827
    Agree with everything Lady Venom said.

    I used to hate hills because I had weak legs so forced myself to start doing hill reps. It's horrible at first but now I've come round to (almost) enjoying them.

    Shouldn't take long for you to start noticing the benefits if you keep it up.

    Cheers.

    Rob
  • I'm more of a runner and can't seem to transfer this to cycling. I recently got a marathon pb (3.13) so have been trying to do some cycling while having a bit of off time. I really don't get out on my road bike enough and i sometimes find it hurts my knees as they are probably much more used to running. Probably should get a bike fit but it all gets very expensive!
  • empathy with OP and gingerdog

    I thought I might have a bit of a headstart as my specialty was fellrunning / hilly trail runs, where there is some similarity with cycling in the leg action / muscle groups used

    sure the leg endurance from those long climbs in the lake district must be helping but am still surprised how hard I'm finding it

    only timed ride so far is a bumpy / undulating 21 miles at 70 mins

    no shortcuts I'm sure, just a case of riding oneself to bike-fitness
    Specialized Allez 24
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    I read somewhere recently that running and cycling use the leg muscles in completely different ways - that are somewhat incompatible. So it's often a struggle at first when going from one to the other.

    No idea how triathletes do it - except that they are probably sub-par at both instead of excelling at one or the other (not a dig at triathletes - just a reflection of human physiology).
  • ok, interesting pokerface

    there seems to be a bit more crossover between fellrunning and cycling (both road and MTB) - than with road running

    or at least, a lot of fellrunners I know are keen cyclists - but I guess that doesn't necessarily mean the two things are very compatible

    it would make sense though that the high-knee-bend-and-straightening action that you employ in long steep ascents when 'running' (to be honest most fellrunners don't run the big ups - it's a yomp) mirrors a little bit the demands of the cycling action
    Specialized Allez 24
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    Bit of discussion on why cycling and running are to some extents incompatible on the Cycling News fitness Q&A from a couple of weeks ago:
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/cyc ... ber-4-2010
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    Bronzie wrote:
    Bit of discussion on why cycling and running are to some extents incompatible on the Cycling News fitness Q&A from a couple of weeks ago:
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/cyc ... ber-4-2010

    Yes - that's the article I was referring to.
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    Pokerface wrote:
    Bronzie wrote:
    Bit of discussion on why cycling and running are to some extents incompatible on the Cycling News fitness Q&A from a couple of weeks ago:
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/cyc ... ber-4-2010

    Yes - that's the article I was referring to.

    Other than the "takes time away from more specific training" I'm not sure I buy the arguments - the muscle activation arguments are somewhat ludicrous as that would imply walking around the shops or up stairs, or having a little bit of slap and tickle with your secretary would also harm your pedalling through the different muscle activations found there.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • holker wrote:
    Hi All, I was wondering if anyone with a running background could share experiences of converting to cycling. i'm a club runner (average ability) with a background in X/C, road relays, 10Ks 1/2 marathons. Over the years I've had injuries that have limited my ability to train/race and find myself doing more and more cycling. However I'm a little disappointed by my performance on the bike. I seem to have decent endurance, and am able to get up hills including lake district climbs, all be it slowly, but my overall average pace is slow and I don't have a lot of power. A typical example is today. 30 miles, avg speed 15.5 mph, slowed a little by a head wind on way home, 1200' climbing, average cadence 97. I'm in my fifties so i don't suppose I'm ever going to get mega fast butI feel I should be doing better. My main problem seems to holding a decent pace over prolonged distances. How have other ex runners fared?
    A runner with a quality endurance motor will be able to translate that to cycling but it takes several years of consistent quality training for the adaptations to really come through.

    I coach some former runners, who were high quality runners in their younger days. One went on the set a masters world hour record, another in his 50s is smoking his local climbs now, but they have been training and racing cycling only for many years now.

    The cyclists in my training studio that make the slowest progress with sustainable cycling power, are the ones that do lots of running.
  • Alex -So it really would take a long time to get up to a good level of cycle fitness? I commute to work on my bike and run a lot of my spare time. Was kind of hoping it wouldn't be too much of a problem to get up to 'club level' at some point. I may have to leave it for this year as hoping to get a sub 3 marathon in the spring.
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    gingerdog wrote:
    Alex -So it really would take a long time to get up to a good level of cycle fitness? I commute to work on my bike and run a lot of my spare time. Was kind of hoping it wouldn't be too much of a problem to get up to 'club level' at some point. I may have to leave it for this year as hoping to get a sub 3 marathon in the spring.

    No it takes a long time to get to masters world hour record fit. To be able to ride on a club run comfortably won't take long at all.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • I've heard those club runs are tough!
  • gingerdog wrote:
    Alex -So it really would take a long time to get up to a good level of cycle fitness? I commute to work on my bike and run a lot of my spare time. Was kind of hoping it wouldn't be too much of a problem to get up to 'club level' at some point. I may have to leave it for this year as hoping to get a sub 3 marathon in the spring.
    How long it takes depends on many things. You may already be at club level, I don't know.
  • holker wrote:
    Hi All, I was wondering if anyone with a running background could share experiences of converting to cycling. i'm a club runner (average ability) with a background in X/C, road relays, 10Ks 1/2 marathons. Over the years I've had injuries that have limited my ability to train/race and find myself doing more and more cycling. However I'm a little disappointed by my performance on the bike. I seem to have decent endurance, and am able to get up hills including lake district climbs, all be it slowly, but my overall average pace is slow and I don't have a lot of power. A typical example is today. 30 miles, avg speed 15.5 mph, slowed a little by a head wind on way home, 1200' climbing, average cadence 97. I'm in my fifties so i don't suppose I'm ever going to get mega fast butI feel I should be doing better. My main problem seems to holding a decent pace over prolonged distances. How have other ex runners fared?

    Your doing the right thing by the sounds of it - the cross training element of the bike/run will do you no harm at all. As others have said the power will come with time but your average doesnt sound bad at all.

    Would suggest you join a local club as most have more than 1 group that go out and do so at different speeds/distances. That way you not only get to learn from more experienced riders but you will also benefit from being in the pack. To start with you probably will be near the back but you will be benefiting from the drafting and at a higher pace will be getting your fitness/power levels up. You will though pretty soon (with your high fitness level from running background) find that you are moving up the pack.

    Plus at this time of year is a good time to get some quality miles under your belt so that when the warmer weather comes you will have a good base fitness & you'll probably find that you are fitter than a large number of club riders who arent that happy in the winter conditions. Which is something that I guess with your running background you would have no problem with.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • interesting to read in that piece - and in a few comments across the forum - the reluctance of many cyclists to get out in the winter weather.

    I love it - but then my bike only cost £500 ....
    Specialized Allez 24
  • holkerholker Posts: 88
    Hi All, thanks for helpful advise :D

    With dark evenings managing only two rides a week. Unfortunately I have to travel a lot with work and commuting by bike ain't practical for me. Last weekend two rides completed.

    (1) 23 miles, avg speed 16.8 mph, ascent 1,170 feet. Conditions good with no head wind.

    (2) 47 miles, avg speed 12.4 mph, ascent 4,500 feet. Conditions good but descents steep, single tracks with s bends, water, leaf mould, gravel etc meant lots of breaking and not much opportunity to up avg speed.

    Rides completed solo. I feel I would benefit from riding with others and being "pushed" to better performance, however I'm concerned that I would be dropped by local cycling club.
  • freehubfreehub Posts: 4,257
    Pokerface wrote:
    I read somewhere recently that running and cycling use the leg muscles in completely different ways - that are somewhat incompatible. So it's often a struggle at first when going from one to the other.

    No idea how triathletes do it - except that they are probably sub-par at both instead of excelling at one or the other (not a dig at triathletes - just a reflection of human physiology).

    I know a guy who is a fell runner for GB and he does not use the bike often, and he absolutely destroys everyone at hills on the bike, I might be able to keep up with him once but that's it and I'm feeling rough after it. And I ride my bike all the time. He's also done a 10 mile TT at just over 24mins on a normal road bike, nothing aero!
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    holker wrote:
    With dark evenings managing only two rides a week...................I feel I would benefit from riding with others and being "pushed" to better performance, however I'm concerned that I would be dropped by local cycling club.
    If you are only managing to get out at weekends, then yes you probably will struggle to ride with average club level riders.

    If you don't fancy riding at night, why not investigate getting an indoor trainer?
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    Holker

    I came from running for similar reasons - got fed up with repeated injuries and when using a bike to keep fit during spells when I couldn't run I found I enjoyed it just as much.

    I think it took me about 12 months from starting to joining a club - and from there maybe another 6 months to keeping up with local fast training rides without getting shelled every time. I did dive straight in and go straight out on chaingangs - remember getting shelled within a mile as Dave Spencer (useful local rider some of the older ones may remember?) from Long Eaton attacked about 10 seconds after I'd tagged onto the local chaingang for the first time. After a while you gain fitness and learn to warm up first or join the chain gang at the start rather than at the point it takes off. Good experience though - I think it's better to dive in with both feet than forever delay until you are fit enough which is what some people do.

    In your 50s obviously you will find it harder - I was mid 30s - but I think the best thing is still to hook up with others who will push your limits. It may not be a chaingang - a club run or local training ride - it may be racers doing a fairly steady ride which for you is on your limit. It doesn't really matter but I do think riding with others can bring you on so much faster than just riding on your own - though everyone is different.

    Coming from running one thing to be aware of is that the standard of club cyclists is generally far higher than club runners - there will of course be very good runners who train hard but it is far more of a mass participation sport even if with sportives cycling is changing somewhat (for the better). Running is good for the ego as you can place highly in local events off a fairly modest training load. Cycling is a sport where you can flog yourself in training all year just to get a bunch finish in a lower category road race and if by some miracle you manage a decent placing people will still talk disparagingly about it only being a chipper.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • Holker.

    I'm a noob too - come across from running - with my stock ride around richmond park (I am actually poacherjake, as above, but changed my username ...).

    Am considering joining London Dynamo, who have their Saturday ride round RP. They have groups of all abilities who go out - I might even not be in the bottom one, if / when I join.

    Bike races might generally be of a higher standard than running, as someone said above, but not all clubs are totally focussed on racing and full of racing cyclists - so the standard of cycling in a club and between clubs can vary enormously, I believe.

    Similar thing seemed to operate in fellrunning - some clubs would be a bit intimidating and full of elite runners, whereas others had runners of a wider range of capabilities but who generally aspired to get better and maybe race, and others still were very social and informal and full of plodders.

    I aim for the middle category myself.
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