Runner Legs into Cyclist Legs

I came from a running background too (retired due to injury) and started with an FTP of 170 (2.3W/kg). 18 months later I’m at 260 (3.9W/kg) and I can feel I have plenty more to gain with the right training. I don’t do gym work, just ride my bike a lot. I will say that I am very dedicated and cycling has become my life.

I started on a TR low volume plan. After a while I added volume and am now at 10hrs/week. I lost a little bit of size in the upper half and put on a little bit of muscle in the legs. I’m actually lighter than when I was a runner (69kg down to 67kg - 183cm). What I’m saying is I didn’t try to force a recomposition through either diet or gym work, it just took care of itself with good training, diet and fuelling.

The gains should come quick initially if everything else is good (diet, stress, sleep, on bike fuel, etc.)

Edit: As a side note I saw a physio when I was a runner years ago and asked if I should do gym work. He said at your low volume (65km/week) you’d benefit more by running more. I increased my volume to 100km/week and had pretty good gains from that. I approach the bike the same way. Also I couldn’t possibly fit in a meaningful gym program at my current volume.

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I just recently did a CX and my average cadence was 69. You need to have high torque and that comes from muscle. You also need the ability to spike watts repetitively. I spiked 5-10sec at 8+ w/kg almost 60 times in a 40 minute race. CX is many big bursts like that and then coasting in-between as you handle the bike. It’s a completely unique discipline.

If you don’t think you have a good background for that then don’t worry about it and just have fun. You might be a good climber and do well in road races or gravel.

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135 pounds is well within the range of cx racers or any kind of cycling bar sprinting really.

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It’s going to take more than 6 months. The top people you are racing against have probably been doing it for years, if not decades.

I raced back in my 20s. I got better and better year over year for five years straight.

Weight training is often recommended but you probably don’t want to start that right in the middle of cross season. Maybe start weight training after cross.

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Sounds like you’re doing well thus far; comparing yourself to cat 2’s after 6 months of specific training is a hell of a comparison.

Being out-powered on flats comes with being a smaller rider to some degree. Not to say that you can’t improve at it (you definitely can and likely will); just the underlying physics work against smaller riders on flats.

@KWcycling Yeah. I felt that. Those last couple of turns my power was just sapped. Once I get a handle on how to best race cross I’ll try to train for those short bursts of power.

I think I’m going to stick with either cross racing or maybe try some mountain bike racing. When you fall over in a cross race you just get back up and keep going. I’ve known too many people that have broken collar bones or worse in Crits (worst race type ever). And with a wife and two kids, I don’t enjoy spending time road riding with traffic. I know too many people that have had serious accidents due to drivers not knowing how to handle a car around cyclists. I’ll stick with TR for my training rides and parks and trails for my outdoor rides.

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No you don’t need to. If you are racing CX this winter then I would be very careful with introducing that while trying to race. It would be a decent amount of fatigue to be dealing with (not to mention the potential wicked soreness). But once you get to a more ‘base’ season it definitely wouldn’t hurt.

But at an FTP of 190 you just need more aerobic fitness. Fitness can be pretty sport specific. So if you’re a good runner it might take a couple months to get the muscles firing in the right way.

Also, 5’9" and 135 is pretty small. It probably wouldn’t hurt to eat a bit more. That could be the perfect weight for you, but to me that sounds pretty small and might point to you not eating enough.

@mwglow15 Ha! Yeah, I eat plenty. I’m just a skinny dude. Built like a stick. It’s also part of my runner’s build. I’ve been running 35+ miles a week for years and it’s hard to put on fat (or muscle for that matter). My wife noticed that since switching to cycling I’ve got some belly fat for the first time since we met. Not sure how I feel about that one. :blush:

Yeah, I’m sure cycling burns less calories per hour than running. But the lower impact allows you to do more of it. So gotta watch that calorie creep! A bit of weight training and some more muscle will help put those calories to something useful. It would also help protect you in the case of a crash. As well as assist in the bone density aspect that you’ll be missing from the lesser impact.

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Last week I heard an interesting Scientific Triathlon podcast, its this one with a link that takes you to the interesting section:

My paraphrasing - cycling puts more demand on the quads, and requires more metabolic fitness in your legs than running. So while your cardio is strong, you need to cycle to increase the metabolic fitness in your legs.

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@WindWarrior Thanks for the article. It’s a terrible feeling to know your fit in one area (running) and then try something else (cycling) and realize that there really is only so much transfer. It’s ok. I enjoy training and to be honest, the power numbers associated with cycling training are a ton of fun to crunch. Running doesn’t really have a training equivalent. Other than running repeats on the track.

I was watching a GCN short the other day where a cyclist went up against a weight lifter. The weight lifter could hit a max wattage of 2000 watts. The cyclist barely broke 1000. But when they went outside and actually rode a bike up a hill it wasn’t even a contest. I guess lifting doesn’t actually make you a better cyclist. It makes you a better lifter.

Long story short. Want to get faster on the bike… ride the bike more.