As far as the east is from the west, so far is cycling from the running or walking athlete. It's true even in physical reality: there is one path for those on legs and another path for those on wheels, and ne'er the twain shall meet. Runners grumble about those cyclists in their ridiculous spandex and their wind-blowing speed while cyclists rant about how we on our feet amble into the wrong path and get in their way. It's like a fitness version of The Outsiders, the Socs and the Greasers will never get along.Right?
Turns out, jumping on a bike can actually benefit walkers and runners.
While many of us like to skip the allocated cross training day (ahem) on any of the Fleet Feet Sports Tulsa training calendars, cross training is intended to increase strength and endurance. With the mechanical advantage of two wheels, a cyclist can do more with less stress on the body than what it may experience during, say, a long Saturday run. Those big miles may feel great, but our joints need a break from all that pounding. Let a bike take some of the stress off your ankles and knees once in a while.
Beginning runners and walkers will see their bigger leg muscles strengthening and toning, but these benefits will eventually level off if we run or walk exclusively. Cross training is intended to build up surrounding muscle groups as well. Cycling uses the legs, hips and core differently, and thus affects those muscles positively in a way that running or walking alone cannot begin to approach.
At our Good-Form clinics, participants hear a lot about efficient cadence. Cycling requires a similar attention to efficiency in motion. Marrying cycling to running or walking will eventually assist us in finding that effective stride.
While it is strictly true that very little equipment is required for running or walking compared to cycling, trying biking doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, any old bike will do, even that old junker sitting in the cobwebbed corner of the garage. If you're just starting, all you need are two inflated tires and a helmet. As you progress, you can start shopping for padded shorts, chamois cream and other miscellaneous gear. Make sure you know how to change a flat and that you obey the rules of the road, which are different than for runners and walkers.
Cycling isn't just for the kids from the other side of the path. Experiment with fitness on two wheels and see your foot fitness improve.