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Can I Run in the Fall and Winter Months Without Losing my Biking Fitness?

Ask a Pro — Diane Stibbard

Coach, Personal Trainer, and Two-Time Canadian Duathlete of the Year

Diane Stibbard - two-time dualthlete of the year
 

Question: “Can I run in the fall and winter months without losing my biking fitness?”

As we enter the crisp days of fall, shortened daylight hours leave us with little time for outdoor riding. Many cyclists I speak to at this time of year aren’t putting in the miles on the bike that they were in the summer. They worry about their fitness levels slipping away and they get anxious about the possibility of a dreaded 5-10 lbs. weight gain over the winter months.

Running is a great way to supplement your cycling and will help you to maintain your fitness and prevent weight gain. It’s a high-impact activity that should be implemented slowly to avoid injury. If you’re not a runner, or haven’t been running in a long time, start slowly with a run/walk routine. Below is a suggested outline to get you started.

Week 1:
2 days per week
5 min walk to warm up
A few minutes of active stretches (see below descriptions for these active stretches)
7 sets of 2 min run – 2 min walk in-between
Finish off with some static stretching for hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips

Week 2:
2 days per week
5 min walk to warm up
A few minutes of active stretching
6 sets of 3 min run – 2 min walk in-between
Finish with static stretching

Week 3:
2 days per week
5 min walk to warm up
A few minutes of active stretching
4 sets of 5 min run – 1 min walk in-between
Finish with static stretching

Week 4:
2 days per week
5 min walk to warm up
A few minutes of active stretching
4 sets of 6 min run – 1 min walk in-between
Finish with static stretching

Once you have completed the above program for one month continue to build the run segments slowly until you can run a full 20 to 30 minutes with no walk breaks.

You can run throughout the winter months indoors on a treadmill or outdoors if you live in an area that has roads or paths that are free from ice. The muscles you use for running are quite different from cycling. Below are some active stretches to get those muscles properly warmed up before breaking into the run segments of the workouts.

1. Hip swings – stand holding and facing a tree, post, park bench etc. Then swing one leg side to the side across the body loosely. This warms up the areas of the hips and glutes. Do 10 – 20 swings on each leg.
2. Sumo squats – Stand with the feet wider than hip width. Then place your hands either on your knees or on the ground (depending on your level of flexibility) and bend and straighten your legs up and down for 10 – 15 repetitions. This movement warms up the hamstrings, quads and glutes.
3. Hip hikes – Walk slowly and drive the hip up to your chest in an exaggerated way. Alternate right to left legs for 10 – 20 repetitions. This movement warms up the hip flexors and quads.

At the end of the run/walk routine follow up with traditional static stretches:

1. Hamstrings – Place your left foot up on a park bench, stair or rock. Then hinge forward from the hip and lean forward over the leg – hold the stretch for 20 seconds, repeat on the right leg.
2. Quads – Hold onto something then bend the right leg and pull the lower leg up and back, holding for 20 seconds. Repeat on the left leg.
3. Calves – Stand leaning up against a wall or post, with one foot forward and one foot back. The front leg is bent and the back leg is straight, gently press the heel of the back leg into the ground, hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other leg
4. Hips – Stand holding and facing a post or bench. Then bend the right knee and place the lower leg on top of the left leg and squat down allowing the top leg to fall out and down. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.

Throughout the winter months you can supplement your indoor cycling schedule with running, which helps create some variety in your routine. Remember that running fitness is quite different from cycling fitness. You may find your heart rate climbing higher than it does while riding your bike. This is natural because running uses more of your body than cycling.

Enjoy the change and good luck with beginning your new activity for the fall.

Training for a two-day cycling eventDiane provides training programs for recreational and competitive cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, including nutritional counseling and personal training. Does your company need a fitness consultant? Get in touch with Diane to discuss fitness seminars for corporations

You want personal training but don’t live near Diane? No problem. Diane does email and telephone consultations. To learn more, visit Diane’s website or contact her at
LinkedIn.

Check out Diane’s e-programs: Keeping Fit in the Off-Season and Training For a Two-Day Charity Event For the Time-Starved Cyclist.


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