How much and how fast to run as a cyclist?

I have heard from multiple sources including the AACC podcast that cyclists should be careful when starting running because of the mismatch between our aerobic fitness and our soft tissue.

I used to run (slowly but) frequently although only very sporadically for the last several years.

The last few times I have tried to run at what used to be a comfortable pace for what used to be a fairly easy distance. However, I keep having to shut it down about two thirds of the way there due to pain in my lateral hamstring tendon behind one knee.

Am I simply trying to run too fast and too far too soon, or is there something I can do to prevent this?

I’d ask for more information on how often, how fast etc. but it’s probably safe to say that yes, it’s too fast too soon.

Hamstring tendon pain is a pretty classic overuse / overstress issue.

The problem with cyclists starting to run, is that we tend to already be so aerobically fit, and used to doing so much work, that it’s fairly easy for us to ramp up running quite quickly and end up overstressing tendons, ligaments, the stuff that’s slow to build, strengthen, heal quite quickly.

This leads to a lot of similar issues just like this.

Gotta be careful with these sorts of injuries too, if they go too far they can take FOREVER to heal.


I’d recommend doing run/walk intervals as the safer way to build up the ability for your leg muscles and tendons to handle the impact of running.

Start very gently, and over a few weeks, gradually build up the ratio of running to walking.


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It depends how much, if any experience you have of running in the past. I run 2xweek for about 30mins for promoting bone density as I’m over 50 and the gyms are shut so strength training is difficult…plus it adds variety. I run at about 6:30/6:40 miles for 4-5 miles in that time. However, I ran for many years and have a marathon pb of 2:47 so even this is way slower than my old marathon pace. If you have never run before certainly start with a run/walk program - slowly building up the run sections from 1min up to 10mins with equal time walk breaks and keep it slow…zone 2 HR although it may get a bit higher as you use more muscles running. Also run on grass/ off road whenever possible to avoid the damage caused to the joints. Unless you intend to race I don’t think there is much benefit of going beyond 30 mins if your main sport is cycling. Even on my limited running I may do the odd parkrun or 5k race in the future as a bit of variety from TT and to see how close I can get to my old 5k pb. Good luck :grinning:


Embarrassingly slow and short… it wasn’t even a very hard effort.

I almost wonder if I wasn’t overstressing the tendon but rather that the muscle was too stiff.

I sporadically run, usually outside cycling season, just for the sake of variation - and before covid-19, to visit new cities to run marathons.

I usually panic train 14 days before marathons and end up with all sorts of soreness, but my two single best pieces of advice:

  1. Ramp up the running gradually. Your aerobic capacity is bot a limiter, but your muscles, bones and ligaments are until they adapt.

  2. Make sure you have shoes that fit your feet and running style. I have several times found pains to magically vanish after changing shoes.

@jdman, I’ve not seen a lot of #humblebrags about running around here, but that’s impressive.

Also, I agree that there risks of running long, or hard, probably outweighs the benefits if the main goal is cycling.


Muscle being too stiff can offload to the tendon quite easily.

Perhaps add in some glute and hamstring strength work, then eventually a stupid easy run/walk plan.

Like STUPID easy

Stop running.


I found that squats helped

thanks - yes I was a better runner than I probably ever will be a cyclist…but cycling is more fun in the summer, you don’t get injured as much (especially when you are over 50 like me!) and there is more opportunity to buy shiny new kit! :laughing:


Since i’m a wannabe triathlete with Ironman aspirations (7-year plan…shoot 6-year plan now)

I’ve picked up running again this year. I wanna make it a habit instead of being an exercise that destroys me. So i’m building consistency by doing 1km daily at a minimum. Slow at first. Hopefully I’ll be able to increase mileage and then speed later on this year. But i want to have my body, tendons and ligaments used to the pounding.
I’m a filthy casual at running meaning i pick it up and drop it a few times a year. I could get sub 5’00/km at my peak for 10k but then i got fat and let’s just say i’ve never really come back even close to that. (Used to live about 2-minute-walk distance from a track so it was pretty easy to get in shape).

I’m also trying to add some mobility exercises to that (read Ready to Run by Kelly Starrett to get a freaking bible of mobilizations). Working on my breathing too… basically i’m taking it easy this year and might add a low volume TR plan with it since this year seems to be also cancelled in terms of races here in Canada. Even if something does happen, at least i’ll have running down…if i don’t drown due to pools being closed (i haven’t done any serious swimming since March 2020…hooly).

There’s just a lot to consider when running i find. Until you get in that comfortable sweet spot that is. Yes when cycling you have to listen to your body but i find that with cycling it has more to do with the engine as the muscles get taxed but won’t have an as catastrophic failure as when running. You could be running at an easy pace and get structural damage while i think it’s a lot rarer in the world of cycling.

True - there is no getting a way from the fact that running is tough on the body, especially if you are heavy. I weighed 60-61kg when I ran seriously and only about 1kg more now I TT. Run training is all about running economy and efficiency…unfortunately you only get it from running a decent amount of miles. On the plus side you don’t have to run those miles fast to develop it - one of the reasons that marathon runners do most of their running at a steady pace (that and the injury risk). Just like cycling consistency helps as well - just getting out several times a week even if only for 2 or 3 miles. However, you do need to adjust to the pounding…I stopped running for 2 years in 2018 and started again in lockdown for a bit of variety. My first run I managed 3 miles in 20mins …which would have been just noodling along when I ran a lot - and it felt fine…BUT the next day I was in agony as my tendons and joints had completely forgotten how to do it! :laughing:


I was a “bigger runner” in my younger days. I’m not your age, but had a mid-twenties peak with a 91 minute half marathon and some even quicker 10ks. Was training well for a full BQ attempt and hurt my foot. I’m a cyclist now. (No one’s ever had that happen, right? Certainly not a 6-3" 180lb/82kg man?)

Had 1.5 mile “race” last year for “work” and managed to run sub 10 minutes with only 1 prep run. But there is no way I’d rip off another 1.5 at that pace. Lungs felt fine, though. But those legs carrying 195lb/88kg… This year, I’m going to make Monday a Run-day, even if its just for 5k versatility and not performance. Its probably going to negatively impact my Tuesday workouts for a month or two, but sweet spot base should be ok after this week.


Never heard the saying, don’t walk when you can ride, don’t stand when you can sit, and don’t sit when you can lie down?

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Come to think of it, I may have only experienced this particular problem running with some new shoes…

I will try it with my old shoes and see if it’s still an issue.

I am the lightest I have been in years, but am still very heavy for a racing cyclist (crit pig, snort snort).

Recent weight loss is part of why I am running faster than usual (although about the same pace I used to run seven or eight years ago when I weighed about the same weight).


It’s worth a try, that said I’d still strengthen up those hams and glutes.

A well rounded athlete should not be crippled by a different pair of shoes so easily :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, to be stating that you are running as fast now as you were when you used to run is a red flag that you are running too fast, haha.

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Indeed - mind you I’m safe from that…I don’t think I can run at the same speed as my 5k pb…it was to long ago so my ego doesn’t have that option available! :laughing:

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