Smart Athlete

Do You Need to Run for Cyclocross?

Do You Need to Run for Cyclocross?

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


  • are you losing time in running during cyclocross, and are you sure it isn’t a mount/dismount skill deficiency? (see the Online Mounts and Dismounts Course if so!)
  • 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.

In the episode I linked above, Molly and I broke down our thoughts, experiences and a few of the pros/cons to starting to run for Cyclocross. We also looked at the broader, and I believe more relevant and long-term question of whether you should consider adding running to your training routine year-round.   Check out the Show Notes and download in other formats by visiting the Consummate Athlete Page.   


I would love to know if this question is one you struggle with. Do you run for cyclocross specifically? Do you run to boost your training frequency/volume?


Thanks for reading!



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