#430 Will cycling help my running fitness while injured? - DOC

#430 Will cycling help my running fitness while injured?

Today on the Doc On The Run podcast, we’re talking about whether or not cycling will help maintain your running fitness while you’re injured and recovering.


I was just on a telemedicine call with a runner who has an injury and he was asking me about different forms of training that he could do to maintain his running fitness, and he asked a question I get all the time, “Is cycling really helpful or not?” Well, the short answer is yes, it is very helpful for several reasons.

One is that cycling is really not going to apply a lot of force, but it’s a really good way to help you maintain your aerobic fitness. So when you get injured, you get weaker, you get stiffer, you lose your neuromuscular connections. You start to lose your aerobic fitness, and you start to lose muscular strength. All of those things conspire against you to actually make you more at risk of another over-training injury later, once you finally heal this initial over-training injury.

So the whole name of the game here, if you want to get back to training and running and competing, is that you have to actually recover as quickly as possible. And that means maintaining your overall running fitness as much as possible during that process. That’s really the big key.

Cycling is a great way to maintain that fitness and maintain a lot of flexibility. Now, of course, you have to clear this with your doctor, or you’ve got to get a second opinion from somebody who actually releases you to do that. So don’t just jump on a bike if you’re wearing a cast, you may have to make sure that this is reasonable and that it’s a good idea for you, given your state of recovery.

But cycling can really do a lot to maintain your running fitness. To test this one time, I was actually doing a marathon every month, and I decided to take one month where I did zero training, other than ride a bike. And so I did ride a lot, I did some interval training, I did some high intensity stuff, I did some long rides. But I trained a lot on the bike, and my next marathon was only one minute different than the previous marathon. So at zero running for one month, my marathon time only changed by one minute.

It really can do a lot to maintain your running fitness. And if you’re supplementing your running while you’re ramping up your activity, after you’re sort of out of the really bad phase of recovery where you’re immobilized or you’re in a fracture walking boot or something like that, cycling can be a great way to really supplement that return of aerobic activity that you need to really get back to full training.

So the short answer is yes, cycling is one of the best ways to maintain your aerobic fitness and actually maintain your running fitness while you’re recovering from an over-training injury.


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