This episode of the Consummate Athlete is a good one (see the show notes here). Many times Sports psychology gets ignored as people think you have to be a crazy person to use these techniques but the fact is that no matter how hard you pedal into that “smart” Trainer on the virtual island your brain is the boss.
How you perceive your effort is a big deal (remember the episode with Alex Hutchinson on ENDURE?) and how you talk to yourself and frame moments in the race, your daily training goals and successes and your ability to stay calm (optimally ‘aroused’ or excited) can make or break your results.
I am very excited for this polished video highlighting 5 steps to learn to bunny hop over Cyclocross Barriers. I also share the key training tool you can use to learn to flow over things (and eventually jump, unweight and bunny-hop too!)
This is a great question and one that becomes too polarized. I believe that many cyclists, especially non-elite/age-group/masters aged athletes who have to balance work, family, health, and travel with their training can really benefit from being able to run.
Should you run? or do you want to run? Or do you need to run?
If you struggle to get enough workouts in or to maintain your training discipline/routine with travel, weather and other challenges than running can be a very effective and something I personally use and believe has greatly enhanced my performance as a cyclist. Uphill running especially I think offers a potent stimulus for trained cyclists who may struggle to push hard enough on the bike.
If you are traveling I think it makes sense that some of the short-term causes of detraining (e.g. plasma volume) can be mitigated if you can do something.
Past injuries may inform if you should run (and perhaps if you should ride cyclocross) I believe many people can get to some form of running but it takes time and focused work ( run:walks, mobility, skipping and eccentric-strength work, mixed-soft surfaces, walking and hiking and footwear are among considerations)
Do you live in a wintery or less-than-ideal cycling location? I grew up and live in Canada. If you don’t have other activities to do you can not train without going crazy on the trainer, yes even with ‘smart’ trainers. Running is very flexible to weather and terrain but pole-running, hiking, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, fat-biking and other options do help, albeit generally require more specific conditions, terrain or equipment than running.
Specific considerations for the ‘should I run for cyclocross’ question
Does it make sense to run without your bike if you only will have to run with your bike?
Does it make sense to jog vs. sprint uphill?
To start why not go for more walks during your day with your family? (is walking as similar to uphill, offroad cyclocross running as JOGGING on flat pavement for 20min?)
Why not do more running in your cyclocross specific workouts and incorporate hike-a-bike into more rides in summer/fall?
Bill Shieken of CxHairs was also on the podcast and I was really happy to talk about this and other issues since he has watched so much cyclocross (and has a book about it). He felt that the one thing that running might do is help with confidence in that if you do run periodically than you may not be able to list that as a, “I can’t run” limiter.
These are 5 articles I have written for MapMyRun/MapMyRide recently that address common barriers to training for certain elements of cycling. If you want to get faster at cycling than you often think about getting faster on hills, or for time-trials, or in corners but your surroundings may not be perfect for this or, they may be quite different from the goal race you are taking on this year. Whatever your ‘big crazy goal’ is this year these 5 articles will help you think about your skills, fitness and other abilities more creatively and arrive at the start line ready for a personal best.
You *should* do Strength in the Off-Season to Improve Your Cycling
Studies and practical experience from top athletes in the elite and masters ranks show us that that strength training can increase our on bike performance AND make us more resilient to injury. You need only look at athletes like Nino Shurter and 2018 MTB World Champion Kate Courtney for elite examples of strength training and general athletism!
Studies such as the one explained in the above infographic from YLM Sport-infographic demonstrate that strength can boost your cycling/endurance performance.
Remember you are a person, not (likely) a Tour Pro (or NFL Pro…)
For Masters and those note going to the Tour de France there is a consideration about avoiding injury, longevity (being able to ride and function as a human in your later years). Muscle mass and bone health and being able to lift up heavy-ish things (Like kids) without straining a muscle is important to your health/happiness and if you are not hurt YOU CAN RIDE MORE AND BE A FAST CYCLIST.
But what should you do for strength to improve your cycling?
Your first priority is to get used to strength. Getting in the gym and moving through a range of motion in the fundamental movements. Squat, Hinge, Push, Pull. Many of us are best served working on limiters in range of motion and to get used to moving well. This may take several months of work but you will see improvements each session, and if you stick with it for a few months you will notice you feel stronger, more stable on the bike and likely less stiff and tired throughout the day. The trick is what exactly should you do? How many reps? How many sets? How many exercises?
If you check out my ‘Anywhere Core Routine’ you can get started today! This free video gives you the basic motions and you can start at only a few reps and one set today and progress until you are feeling comfortable with that plan => see the free 20-minute anywhere core routine below
Or try this routine for more ideas:
If you want 12 weeks of Strength Training you can do at home or at the gym, with examples in downloadable PDF documents AND that you can put in your training peaks calendar, you can keep on your phone or print out. (available in PDF only if email / use contact form)