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Nine reasons why runners should try cycling


If you're a runner, then a bike could be one of your most valuable training tools. Cycling can improve your running performance, build muscle strength and aid recovery. Discover the physical and mental benefits of cycling and why runners should give it a go on their next Neilson Beachclub holiday.

The benefits of cycling

Improving performance

Cross training is using an alternative sport or activity to train and improve your performance in a particular sport. Many runners use cycling for cross training and it has the added benefit of getting you outdoors, trying something new and having fun.

Cycling helps improve running performance by developing fitness, stamina and endurance without damaging your leg muscles. It's a great low impact cardiovascular workout too and by adding it to your weekly training regime it will help you to do more with less stress on your body.


Building strength in complementary muscles

When you're running, you're building certain sets of muscles to perform certain functions. Initially, you'll be getting stronger and you'll feel great. But if your training is exclusively running, at some point you'll plateau, stop seeing results and get frustrated.

Cycling uses different sets of muscles to running, such as more use of your quads, glutes and core muscles. These muscles complement those used for running, making you a stronger runner. Your efficiency should improve too which will help you run faster. Try riding a bike uphill in a big gear to build strength.


Aiding recovery

After a long run, it's likely your legs will be sore and the thought of going out the next day won't fill you with joy. But a low to medium intensity bike ride the day after a long run will help your legs to recover. It's low impact too so your joints will thank you for it.

Cycling aids recovery by increasing blood flow to your calves, quads, glutes and hamstrings, flushing out lactic acid and helping them repair. The motion itself will also reduce muscle and joint stiffness and you'll be back out running much sooner than if you rested.


Aerobic training

There are several ways runners can use a bike for aerobic training. Try doing short sprints out of the saddle to spike your heart-rate and build speed. These interval workouts push your body hard forcing it to adapt quickly and grow stronger.

Alternatively, go for a longer, steady ride to build endurance. You'll be able to enjoy a cardio workout with lower recovery rates. Plus, as a low impact aerobic exercise, cycling will improve your overall cardiovascular fitness without damaging your joints.


Exercising with an injury

Getting injured is a real blow and taking a break from running can sometimes be necessary to allow your body to heal. But cycling can help you stay in shape until you are ready to run again. Even better, research shows that maintaining some activity whilst injured will reduce the time needed for recovery.

Cycling gives a great workout without the impact of a run. Although cycling long distances can cause some stress on the knees, it is comparatively far lower than running and will help you to maintain your fitness whilst putting far less stress on the body.


Optimize fat burning

If one of the reasons you took up running was to decrease overall body fat, then cycling could be your new best friend. Although running burns more calories than cycling over the same time period, as you become a more efficient runner the fewer calories you'll burn.

This is where cycling comes in. Fat burning occurs when the heart is working at around 65 to 75 per cent of its maximum heart rate, a zone that you can achieve in cycling training. If you are a runner looking to lose weight, consider swapping some runs for a bike ride to challenge your body in a new way and create a higher burn.


Pushing your comfort zone

Trying a new sport can push you out of your comfort zone, even if you're used to working out and keeping fit. It won't just challenge you physically, forming a new active habit will exercise your brain too by building new neural pathways and improving your mental wellbeing.

Building new neural pathways in the brain helps us to: open up to try more new things, break bad habits, and makes us feel more confident. Even if you learnt to ride a bike as a child, rediscovering the joy of cycling will make way for a new, happier you.


Finding new exhilarations

Cycling can provide new thrills for runners, offering new ways to see and experience the outdoors. Whether its mountain biking downhill, or climbing ridges to see amazing sea views. Mountain biking is an inclusive activity at all of Neilson's beachclub holidays across Croatia, Greece and Sardinia.

If you'd rather explore by road, then you can clock up the miles at Baia dei Mori, Buca, Cosmos, Messini, Retreat and Vounaki Beachclubs. Whatever your level, or preference for mountain or road, Neilson offers different levels of guided rides to get you in the saddle.


Pedalling back home

Cycling on holiday, without the distractions of everyday life, is a great way to get into or rediscover the thrill of riding. And it's easy to incorporate a new found passion for cycling when you return home.

If you have a bike, look out for local road cycling clubs or explore local trails for mountain bikes in your area. Even if you don't have a bike, you can make the most of the benefits of cycling by taking part in a spin class at your local gym or fitness centre.