Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spinning & Running

Spinning will make you become a better runner.   

There is no doubt about it.

Often times injuries are what forces us on a bike to keep up fitness levels when we can’t run.  But what about adding cycling to your current routine?  How can it benefit you as a runner?

Endurance & Aerobic Base Building

Building a good base is very important no matter what your sport or goals are.  During an Endurance Energy Zone class, riders are encouraged to stay in aerobic heart rate zones to develop slow twitch muscles and stamina which translates well to long distance running.  Training aerobically helps improve efficiency in energy production, fat metabolism, oxygen transport to the muscles, and reduces the rate of lactate formation.

Strength Intervals & Speed Work

After developing a good, solid foundation, riders are ready for strength intervals and speed work.  During hills and fast flats, heart rate will begin to cross over from aerobic to anaerobic.  This is when lactic acid starts to build up and also how to develop fast twitch muscle fibers, which are used in sprinting.  Interval training works to improve overall cardiovascular fitness and endurance with periods of high intensity training (varied times, speeds, and resistance) followed by periods of recovery.  Higher resistance on the bike builds muscle strength while adding speed intervals translates well into quick feet and faster turnover on the roads.  Speaking of turnover…

Cadence & Turnover

In running, quicker turnover means less contact with the group and faster times.  A correlation has been found between cadences in cycling and running.  An elite distance runner takes an average 180 steps per minute.  Most beginner runners take less than 180 steps per minute, which could be due to a variety of factors including over striding and running too vertical.  You can practice quick turnover to improve cadence.  You can also practice leg speed on a bike.   The majority of Spin class, your instructor will have you pedaling at 80-100 rpms, or revolutions per minute.  90 rpms and 180 steps per minute is the same cadence.  Your legs can adapt to that speed to develop a nice smooth cadence and endurance is what will help you maintain it.

Reducing Injury Risk

Running is a very high impact activity.  While high impact is great for keeping bones strong, it also takes a toll on your joints.  Spinning is essentially a non-impact activity.  Spinning also uses muscles complementary to those used while running making you stronger all around with better balanced muscles in the lower body and core.  This doesn’t mean skip out on days in the gym—strength training is very important too!

Active Recovery

Spinning is a great alternative to a run day.  My typical week includes 4 run days, 2 spin days, and 1 day of total rest.  Not only does spinning add variety to my training, it gives my muscles a chance to recover.  An easy recovery ride in aerobic heart rate zones will increase blood flow, decrease muscle stiffness, and also flush out lactic acid.


I love the Spin Room atmosphere: dark room, loud music, singing, woo-ing, high energy, everyone supporting and motivating each other.  I also love the fact that anyone can benefit from an indoor cycling workout.  Class is about working hard and challenging yourself but everyone from an elite athlete to an active senior can modify the workout to their levels and goals.  Everyone is an athlete in Spin Class; it’s all about perspective and progress relative to the individual. 

Another bonus: Spinning can burn 400-700 calories per hour!

Ready to try Spinning?
Make sure to bring a sweat towel and a water bottle with you to class.  It is recommended to drink at least 40oz of water for a 40 minute class.  Most classes range from 40-60 minutes depending on the instructor and fitness center.  Arrive 10-15 minutes early so the instructor can help you set up your bike.  Incorrect settings can increase your change of injury –and we definitely don’t want that!!

Start by incorporate indoor cycling into your routine once or twice a week.  It will only take a few classes to start to notice the effect on your running.

For me personally, Spinning is the only form of exercise that produces similar psychological effects as running.  Sweating, an increased heart rate, endorphins flowing – all traits of a great workout.  I see it as my secret weapon—because if it can improve my running performance, I’m in!

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