Incorporating cycling training into your routine can improve your running performance, according to research cited in the Journal of Conditioning and Research. The number of people turning to running as a regular form of exercise and activity has gradually risen over the last decade. In Australia, over 4.9 million or 25 percent of people participate in running. You may have come across the term cross training and its benefits by now. Whether you are an endurance runner training for long distance marathons, a pace runner trying to optimize your speed or somewhere in between the two, incorporating other exercises into your training can have great benefits for your body and running. Here are three great ways training on an exercise bike can impact your running routine.

Aids Endurance

For endurance runners, it is important to build up a strong stamina to finish long distances. Incorporating a mix of long runs and cycle rides can target exactly that. Slow rides are classified as low impact exercise which means that you can use heart rate training to improve your endurance levels, while having less stress on your muscles and joints. It is also a great method of active recovery. Too often, we can push ourselves training for a particular race or goal in mind, and before we know it, our bodies begin to feel the strain of overtraining. Taking a slow cycle ride is a great way to still train your muscles while simultaneously giving your body a rest.

Improves Muscular Imbalances

Both running and cycling target mostly the same muscle groups in your body. A combination of both in your exercise routine (cross training)  can not only help you to combat those late stages feelings of fatigue in a race but can also improve imbalances in your muscles. Runners tend to work their hamstrings and calves in their training, while in cycling, the quads and glutes are targeted. Improving the strength of your quads and glutes can mean a better running time for you overall; essential to all runners especially those focused on speed and short distances.

Assists Injury Rehabilitation

In the run up to an event or if you push yourself too hard in your training, injuries can become a large concern. For those running regularly or following high-intensity routines, they can face the risk of injuries due to overuse and strain on your muscles. Cycling, just like running, can add variety to your activity schedule (mountain biking, track racing etc) which is a great way to help you overcome injuries. According to previous research, maintaining a level of activity during an injury period can reduce recovery time and aid mentally by giving you something to remain focused on. If you are aiming to continue aerobic workouts but with less strain on your muscles, take the time to do some research about what sort of equipment is best suited to your needs.

There are great benefits to cross training and this has been consistently supported, including by exercise physiologist Hirofumi Tanaka from the University of Texas in 1994. Since then there have been multiple papers and studies published on the link between cycling and sport performance, including running. From increased stamina for endurance races and heart health to assistance in injury recovery, there is more evidence than ever to add cycling to your activity rota. As a beginner, start off slow and build gradually as you would any other sport and above all, have fun improving your fitness!