Monday, April 06, 2015

How spinning helped my running

Confession. I'm loving the bike for the unlikely reason that it's made me a better runner.

Cross training is the activity that most runners know they should do to improve, but when faced with running vs. other activities, most of us choose running. But there's always something new to teach a runner, I've learned over the years.

So spinning.

No, not that spinning.

It's been time to do a major shakeup. I've been working on learning how to run with the Runner's Academy, where we've been working on knee lifts, leg drive and proper running form (instead of walking fast, we're trying to lean more toward jumping.)

This is the third straight season of training under a coach -- a lot has since changed since before I began this phase of my running career.

I now run every day and of the seven days, I have three quality days a week (track/intervals, fartlek/hills/long).

So enter the bike. Encouraged by a friend who signed up over Christmas, and knowing that other runners routinely add spinning to complement their training, I've fully embraced the spin.

So how does spinning help this runner?

Glutes and quads, better form: I knew I was training for Boston. Also, one thing I've learned about my new running form is I have to work on knee lifts and power. And the spinning is working both my glutes and quads in a way that I now have power.

Another quality day: I've been able to add one or two quality days to my schedule without the impact. A typical 45 minute spin session will have about 20-25 minutes of tempo/V02 work, much like a Friday hill session. I can recover fast from these workouts.

More endurance: Turning a recovery day into a quality day has helped me immensely. And on weeks earlier in the training cycle, I've been able to add 1.5 hours of spinning to my 9 hours of running. Ten to 11 hours of training a week will give you huge endurance benefits. I've seen this translate in my 35K runs and in my racing (half and 30K this spring, when I had a good kick at the end of each race.)

Intervals are good: Spinning gives me stronger cardio and endurance have given me the ability to go out at harder. During the weeks when I've been doing heavy spinning, I'd be pretty tired but I emerged from it all super fit.

Upper body and core: I think I've benefited as much as the strength work the spinning has given my arms, shoulders and abs. My spin studio has bikes that turn and while we're not doing crazy workouts, I'm getting good benefits and it's helping my overall running form.

It's easy to see how all the gains I've made in the past two years -- setting PBs in almost every distances, getting my running on a new track. I now know that being a better runner has everything to do about being a strong athlete. It means I need to be mindful and actionable on diet, work on strength, run more, run fast, recover smart and use the cross training to my advantage. Spinning has become part of the equation. Can't wait to see what it does for me in Boston.

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