Combining Running and Cycling Training – Can it Work? UPDATED 2021
Many people tend to believe that running and cycling can complement each other. However, this is far from the case.
Combining running and cycling training can work if the focus of each discipline is built around each other. However, if you try to push both cycling and running at the same time you can end up with fatigue, overtraining, or even injury. So what are the best ways of combining running and cycling training together?
Continue to read about how we can balance the two together for optimal results.
Cycling and Running on the Same Day – Is it ok?
Generally speaking cycling and running on the same day is ok. As long as the key session is performed without any disruption from the other workout. That means if you are planning a tempo run and a cycling session as well, it is important to keep your cycling session low in intensity, to help improve recovery and blood flow. This also prevents any extra fatigue dragging on the next few days.
Alternatively, if your planned workout is some threshold intervals on the bike, make sure you run after the bike session. It is also important to keep the intensity and heart rate as low as possible. this will help improve recovery and reduce the fatigue you bring into the next workout.
For most people, a good rule of thumb is to keep any secondary workout easy and duration short. This will prevent any cross-over of fatigue and also allow the recovery you need.
Combining Running and Cycling Training – What’s the Best Way?
If you are looking at ways of combining running and cycling training together, it comes down to planning. Planning or periodization is when you plan your season ahead or even just a period of training. For example the next month or even the next 6 months.
When it comes to combining running and cycling training together it is important to focus on one key session at a time. That means restricting yourself from doing a hard bike and hard run on the same day. This is super important if your goal is to improve only one of these two sports.
For most triathletes, doing a hard bike and hard run on the same day is relatively common. Especially closer to the start of the season when they start to implement brick sessions into their training. However, for most people focusing on one sport, you should limit yourself to one hard session on a double day of training.
If your goal is to improve your running, then your focus should be on running and cycling should be used as a form of recovery. That means keeping your rides below 1-hour duration and keeping the heart rate as low as possible. Because the goal of recovery cycling is to keep the blood flowing to the muscles and help keep them supple.
Alternatively, if your goal is cycling, running should be performed even less than cycling. Because running (even if it is easy) is much more stressful on the body than cycling. That means recovery time increases. So pushing the running a bit too hard can cause a decline in your cycling power.
For a runner looking to combine the two sports a decent structure would look something like this:
Monday – recovery run
Tuesday – Tempo workout or intervals + 60 min recovery ride.
Wednesday – Distance run
Thursday – Tempo workout or intervals
Friday – Rest Day
Saturday – Distance run + 60 min recovery ride.
Sunday – Long run + 45 – 60 min recovery ride
As you can see all the cycling workouts are easy and should be kept in zone 1. This will merely make any cycling you do a form of recovery from the running. Alternatively, if you are focusing on cycling, you would do something similar like:
Monday – recovery ride
Tuesday – Threshold Workout cycling + 30 minutes recovery run
Wednesday – Distance ride + 30 minutes recovery run
Thursday – Threshold or v02 intervals.
Friday – Rest Day
Saturday – Distance ride + 30 min recovery run
Sunday – Long ride
Running After Cycling – Is it Something You Should Do?
If your main sport is cycling, should you be running after cycling training? Well if you are serious about your cycling training it is probably not the wisest decision. doing so will slow down your recovery and place added stress on your joints and bones.
However, during the offseason where the intensity of your cycling training is low, you can implement some running after cycling as long as it is easy. That means keeping any running to low zone 1 heart rate, so it doesn’t affect your main sessions on the bike.
But as we briefly talked about, if your main sport is cycling and your goal is to improve that sport only. Stay away from running, especially during the in-season as it will really affect your ability to recover.
Alternating Cycling and Running Training Instead
If your goal is to improve both running and cycling together, then think about alternating cycling and running training. This doesn’t mean alternating between days, but more between weeks. Focusing one week on cycling and the next week on running can help you plan key sessions for each sport without the stress of the other. That doesn’t mean you should stop one sport when doing the other, it just means the other sport’s intensity and duration are reduced when the focus is on the other.
Alternatively, instead of alternating cycling and running each week, focus on planning in two key sessions a week. Then allow one for each discipline. That way you are less likely to overload the body.
You can also use the same layout for longer sessions. Planning in two key long sessions a week for both cycling a running.
Here is a general template that can work well when combing running and cycling together each week with this structure.
Monday – recovery ride
Tuesday – Specific workout running
Wednesday – Recovery running or rest day.
Thursday – Specific workout cycling
Friday – Long run
Saturday – Rest Day
Sunday – Long ride
No matter what you end up doing, try to split apart any hard workouts in the beginning. This will prevent any fatigue from being dragged into your next phase of training.