Improve cycling by running?

I cycle about 2/3 per week. I wish to start running, mainly for the health benefits (bone density etc). Will the running improve my cardiovascular system to the point where my cycling improves? Will this be measurable (increased FTP?).

Thanks in advance.

I wouldn’t say it improves your cycling in that respect. What I have found running does for cycling is increasing resilience/toughness. Mostly because it trashes your legs far more and hence makes bike training a bit harder at times.

No. To get faster on the bike do bike. Other things have other benefits.

And none of those ‘other benefits’ overlap to be beneficial to cycling? I’m not talking about the most optimised training strategy, I’m looking at what benefits running would have, if any?

2-3 days per week isn’t a lot of cycling. If you truly want to be a faster cyclist start thinking about 5-6 days per week. But if you want to run, then run. There’s no harm. It may have other health benefits. Have fun!

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Having a bigger aerobic base in any sport is going to be beneficial to cycling. I.e. all else being equal somebody who does 3 hours of cycling and 3 hours of running (or swimming, or rowing, or XC skiing…) each week is going to be stronger at cycling than somebody who just does 3 hours of cycling. Just not as strong as the person who does 6 hours/week of cycling!


While out for a recent run I was pondering this. We know if you want to get faster on the bike, do bike BUT who would likely end up faster in this scenario,

Person A - 3 hours per week cycling
Person B - 3 hours per week cycling + 2 hours running.

We can assume person C doing 5 hours cycling will likely be fastest but does running have some transferable benefit?

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Also - depending on if you want to try out some of the ‘sports’ within cycling - such as cycle-cross or mountain biking, where you are often off the bike - it will help - along with strengthening hamstrings , glutes and postural muscles

The motivation behind the question is that I don’t really have much more time in my week to add cycling but I can run for 15-30 minutes and seem to get more bang for my buck.

if you do start running - start slow.
If it feels slow, slow it down a bit more
To many people start too fast and end up injured -
the key to progress is consistency
the key to consistency is avoiding injury

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As @cartsman noted, more aerobic training can be beneficial to your primary sport, but it is not as beneficial as putting that same time into your primary sport. But if you are time limited, then running can be a way to get some additional cardio work in.

I’ve been riding for 30+ years, racing most of that time. In 2009, I started dabbling in tri’s where the bike was obviously my strength…I still did my normal group rides, but the additional training volume (overall and on the bike specifically) raised me up a level or two. After 2017, I went back to just the bike BUT kept my overall training volume the same, but it was all on the bike. Massive difference in my performance and everyone noticed it “geez…what are you doing this year that is different?” More time on the bike and only the bike.

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For sure go running. It’s good for you in every possible way.

I mix up running and cycling and it’s a good mix. I’ll generally do about 6 hours a week on the bike and run about 30 miles, mostly on trails. People say that to become a faster cyclist you must ride more to the exclusion of other sports, which i guess is true if they cannibalise the time and you are aiming for the top of your sport, but as a M49 who rides and runs for fun I love being able to oscillate between the 2. They complement each other as mutual cross training, they toughen you up in different ways and they both provide an outlet depending on your mood. Sometimes you really don’t want to go sit on the trainer, so a 5 mile run in the forest is perfect. Running is very time efficient as well - it’s easy to nip out for a quick 5k in a spare half hour.

Take note what others have said if you are totally new to running: Your connecting tissues take a long time to fully adapt to the new strains. So although you might easily be able to go and run 5 miles several times a week, using all your cycling aerobic fitness, your legs will soon start to really hurt. So start on low volumes: 10miles a week, 12 miles a week… My first year’s running (I started aged 44) was littered with injuries, now i can run 40 miles a week with no problems…

Good luck.

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This x1000.


I am not sure that “slow” is the main thing. Certainly keep the amount of running down low, and take days off, but it’s ok to run fast. If you join a club you’ll be doing fun interval sessions and fartlek. Running fast is fun. Just don’t do too much of it.
I only really ran (pardon the pun) into big problems when i followed internet advice to run really really slow and the change in gait from my natural all day pace of 8:30 to a super slow 10:00 pace increased my ground contact time and gave me plantar fasciitis which took me out for 18 months. Now i always run at my natural pace when i’m just running.

It depends on what your experience level is and what your pace times are.

But when talking about cyclists converting over to running, their engines are capable of running faster than their bodies can handle. So even running at a pace that someone like Jack Daniels would consider an easy pace can lead to injuries because their test pace is basically inflated due to their cardio engine.

It sounds like you already had some experience as a runner, so slowing down for the sake of slowing down is not necessarily good advice.

I agree.

I started running long before i started cycling. In fact the reason i bought a bike was because i was injuring myself so frequently, so i didn’t initially have the aerobic fitness vs. glass legs problem.

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This sums out why I would always get injured when I’d try running.

Did a half marathon with no training. Paced according to my friends speed which was tough but manageable. Then hit mile 8 and the cramps were insane.

Small niggles after event threatened tendinitis if I didn’t rest effectively.