Guidance on adding running?

I am on a mid-volume plan which I’ve been following closely, moving to high volume through Feb-Mar-Apr, and I’ve successfully added 2x lifting sessions per week (squat both times, deadlift once, plus upper body and pullups).

I’m toying with the idea of adding running but I’m not sure how to progress. I have heard a lot of half-joking anecdotes like “cyclists go too hard too fast on running and blow themselves up!”

I’ve seen the couch-to-5k plan but it seems a little … rudimentary? I’m not sure I need quite that much walking. Although maybe it’s a good idea to strengthen the feet and whatnot?

Anyone know any materials providing guidance on the addition of running to a mid or high volume plan?

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I’ve done just this, I got a watch so I can monitor heart rate; and remember running zones will probably be 10-15bpm higher than cycling due to the amount of muscle involved.

Start slow and short, I began around 2km @ Z2 and then increased that week on week. I usually fit my run in at lunch and can run a 5k @ Z2 in around 25-30mins. I find running once a week/10 days enough to stop any soreness from running, and I think it has physically toughened me up as an athlete.

Good luck

This seems like a great idea. So you benchmarked your heart rate at z1/z2/z3 and then mentally add ~10-15 bpm to it and that’s how you control your pace when running? Seems like a sound approach.

Basically, yes. It’s unscientific and subjective, but if you are familiar with using RPE or the ‘feel’ of a Z2 ride, then you can apply that to the run and guesstimate from that what your running HR zones would be. We are spoilt on the bike as we can measure power objectively as well and get a very accurate measurement of load.

I should say I only run @ Z2 as I just use it to add volume and stress I cant get on the bike.

I also lift 2x a week so it sounds we are doing a similar regimen - are you using starting strength/stronglifts? Sounds like a 5x5 type plan.

This season, I’ve been running for the first time in years with the intention of doing a 50k trail race later in the season. Currently, I just run 30 minutes on my (wife’s) treadmill at a pretty low pace every day that I train on the bike, which is 5 days/wk. I also do resistance training 2x per week. The days that I run, ride, and lift are the days before my 2 rest days, and my my fatigue levels seem manageable. I just added the running to my mid-volume plan, and didn’t really adjust anything. Once I get, imo, enough running miles in my legs, I’m going to start doing a long trail run once a week, but stick with the treadmill for the other 4 days.

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Bingo. I am doing 3x6 squats twice a week and 3x5 deadlifts. I’m not progressively overloading any more, just keeping the weights pegged. Still overloading on bench/OHP/row. I’m above the “Sprinter” standards according to Coach Chad’s strength standards so I’m not that worried, just making sure I get my squats in to stimulate the nervous system and keep resting metabolism high.

I was finding that if my squats/deads were too heavy or if I was doing the full 5x5 I was a little fatigued for big sweet spot intervals.

Keeping the squats and deads pegged at a manageable but stimulating weight seems to really help thread the needle and nail the bike intervals too.

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Yeah, for sure take up running. Running is an excellent lifestyle choice in itself as well as a very good addition to cycling training. It’ll toughen up your legs, it’s good for bone density and it works out parts of your legs that don’t get a look in on the very one dimensional cycling motion. It’s every bit as pleasurable as going for a ride and it’s nice to have the choice.

The only warning is this: As a cyclist you already have a lot of aerobic fitness. As you saw with the couch to 5k plans these are aimed at fat useless people who genuinely will be at stage 1 of a fitness journey. You might already be at stage 6, 7 or 8. But, while your lungs and leg muscles might be already pretty good, your connecting tissues such as Tendons etc will not be adapted yet. These don’t have a lot of blood flow so they adapt very slowly, like over lots of months… The adaptive part of a run is the first 20 - 25 minutes. After that the tendons aren’t learning anything new. So little and often is the key.

So the first rule of run club is “Build up slowly”, the second rule of run club … etc… you know the drill.

People often say that you must run really slow. This is bullshit. Run as fast or as slow as you want. Find your natural pace. It might be 8:00 minute miles or 10 minute miles. The key is to limit yourself to maybe no more than 5k or 30 mins at a time for the first few months. By all means do intervals or run/walk/run/walk but just don’t go and run 10 miles because you’ll regret that for a few days or weeks afterwards. If you get sore tendons then take a couple of days off running. Keep cycling, it’ll be fine.

Get a good pair of shoes, go run 5k. Mix it up with your cycling. 2 a days are fine, or run 5 days a week and ride 4 days a week. Doesn’t matter. Just enjoy it and don’t over think it. They will compliment each other. Running won’t make you a faster cyclist but it will make you a better athlete. And it’s a great way to spend half an hour.


Thank you for this insight! Great stuff! A ton of excellent insight in this post.

Check out the 2019 and 2020 and 2021 running threads :smiley:
There’s also TR Running thread 2022 which you might find helpful…

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That’s a really interesting post and makes a lot of sense. Thank you


Have you done a running threshold field test to establish your zones (Pace and HR?)

Couple different methods, but basically a 15 minute warmup with a few 15 second strides and fill out openers around the 10min mark.

Next it’s either a 20 or 30 minute time trial, your average HR and Pace is your threshold. Once you have that you can establish your zones. Using a slew of online calculators depending on if you want to adhere to 80/20, Friel’s zones, etc…

Only increase volume by 10% a week max, 80% of volume in Z1/Z2 and 20% on the track doing speed work on 200m and working to 400m will pay dividends.

The other option is to just start with 20-30mins at super slow pace like 12mins a mile, keep the HR super low and get the legs acclimated for a month. Slowly mix in 5-10mins if a faster pace in the overall run. Running form and fast ground contact time with a higher leg turnover speed will help to not destroy the legs.

I think Couch 2 5k might actually work for you pretty well.
Yes, it is rudimentary; but it is gradual as well.
As you are adding running as a new activity to current big training loads, starting slow would be good.
If you did the program by time and not distance you will build up to 30 minutes of steady running gradually. You’d likely build up towards 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 miles or so instead of just 5k. Even a good bit of the walk run days will probably pass 5k.
Let your body adjust.

What he said.
Your lungs can bury your legs right now. It is very easy to overdo when you start running, even if you have no fitness.