Can't climb since taking up running

I’m currently having a break from structured on-bike training while I do a running training plan (4-5 Days a week) as a precursor to trying Triathlon (running being my weakest sport). Since starting this plan there’s been the expected drop off on my cycling fitness while I focus elsewhere, but I’m really really struggling with climbing.

For example on a local climb that usually takes me 23-25 minutes took 31 minutes last week (over 20% slower). The thing is my HR didn’t go over 150 and my breathing wasn’t too bad, I just had no power in my legs. Fuelling had been normal and I didn’t feel like I’d bonked, I just felt weak. It’s not just long climbs either, got dropped by my social group last week on a 5 min short sharp climb but at the top I wasn’t remotely out of breath and had an HR of around 145. Both times I just couldn’t get any more out of my legs.

I considered the possibility it was muscle fatigue from all the running, so had a 6 day break from any sports and found I was essentially no faster yesterday than the previous week.

Also, steady/flat stuff seems to be unaffected; I can still go pretty deep on the flat, get my HR up and get the odd PB on a flat segment. Explosive power is OK too (sprinting and even up small hills if I have some momentum) but sadly I don’t have a PM so it’s a bit harder to quantify everything (I backed IQ2 a couple of years ago and am stubbornly holding on despite everything).

Just wondering if anyone has any ideas, or if anyone has had the same experience when taking up running (Google suggests cross training should be beneficial if anything), because it doesn’t feel like it’s as simple as de-training, although I could be wrong so I am asking the experts!

I came from running to cycling, and I think that what you’re experiencing is mostly mental (since your pulse is still low) and is related to how you use your leg muscles to run vs. how you use your leg muscles to climb while on a bike.

I think that if you really focus on pedaling as you climb, you will climb faster.

This is all a hunch, but I hope it helps.

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Came to (Tri) cycling and running as a swimmer

Running trashes your legs - running 4 to 5 times a week really trashes your legs (especially for cycling)

Can’t explain the climbing differences after taking a week away. Anytime I have done specific sport blocks, just trying to maintain the other sports is rough as I don’t do them often enough/or well enough to maintain the fitness my mind thinks I should have.

For example every time I drop swimming for a bit, when I come back, even being a lifetime swimmer, I am “why the ## did I stop swimming, this sucks!”

I bet it comes right back with a bit of renewed training


Relax. Its part of the process. You will gain at running and will scarify some biking, short term. Once you normalize your routine, biking will come back and better than ever.


:rofl: So true! Applies to cycling and running as well!

I second the cooked legs theory. My FTP was pretty much static for months (actually dropped ~10 watts at one stage) just from trying to get used to running again.

Legs finally coming good the last few weeks. A monster day of climbing (3600m) seemed help to wake them up - I saw the benefit about 10 days later.

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As somebody who runs about 1-2 times a week (just to keep up with it while I’m training on the bike), running 4-5 times a week seems like a lot without knowing more about your running history.

I need at least one full day recovery between runs, regardless of length or intensity. By contrast, I can bike 6 days a week for 2-5 hours a day as long as I can eat and rest.

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Thanks all, seems to have been a combination of pretty much all of the above.

I took another couple days off running while riding gently each day.

Did an effort on a local medium-ish hill (10 min climb) yesterday, focusing hard on pedalling technique and I finished about 20 secs off my PB and got my body actually working again.

Pretty happy with that!


Quite the understatement…

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Running three times a week is enough to improve running when you are still cross training on the bike - have a look at the Running and Ironman threads :+1:

And welcome to the world of triathlon :wink:

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Thanks, was concerned I might be overdoin*it when there are other sports.

I know that I need to…I’ve been building up to it, but feel like I’m going to need to take a week off work to get up to speed :grimacing:

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