Balancing Act: Running vs. Cycling


It’s winter in the Northeast and despite some pretty warm temps, I haven’t really been out on the bike.  I have been running a lot, and going longer and faster.  Running has never been a true love like cycling, but I have grown accustomed to it and appreciate the efficiency of the workout.  While I have no plans to replace cycling with running, I am trying to strike a balance between the two sports.

Here’s why:

  • Running is easier to fit into my schedule and requires less prep time and less equipment.
  • I can run from my office and have immediate access to the bike trail or long country roads along the cornfields and tobacco barns.
  • Being able to run allows me more choices in participating in events.

I have been spinning on the trainer some–and after all these years I am actually taking some pleasure in doing so.  I find I can spin longer with all the running miles in my legs.  I’m excited to get out on the road or trail to prove the running a great supplement to my overall fitness.

I have developed a few nagging injuries from the higher impact of running.  My left shin is tender and sore.  My right foot occasionally will singe with a bright spidering pain radiating from the ball of my foot if I step just the wrong way.  My right knee is snapping and wobbly, and I occasionally have pain in the back of my knee.  All of these injuries are minor yet troublesome, and I can only think the bike may provide some relief to the high impact of running and bring my workouts back into balance.

I think at one point over the last couple of years, I simply burned out on the bike–specifically the road bike.  I primarily rode the mountain bike last year and really enjoyed getting back to riding in the woods again.  I had 4 LIVESTRONG events in 5 years and I used these events as a way to focus my rides for a greater purpose.  At some point this stopped being a motivator and started being a chore.  That’s not what cycling should be.

That’s why I’ve been running more, and mountain biking almost exclusively the last 18 months or so.

Now I feel more ready to return to road cycling again, and I’m looking forward to longer rides of 40, 50, or 60 miles.  I want to continue mountain biking, and get out on the cross bike some more–especially to explore those fire roads in Franklin County. All and all I finally feel I have a job that will allow me to more fully enjoy both sports on a more regular basis, and I plan to take full advantage (I already am!).

–Karen

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About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling. Always looking to see what is around the next bend in the road.

3 responses to “Balancing Act: Running vs. Cycling”

  1. bgddyjim says :

    The injuries are NOT from the impact – the impact is good for you (the idea that impact is bad is a hard one to shake because if you don’t know better it makes sense): http://fitrecovery.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/the-myths-of-exercise-2/ The ball of your foot can be a couple things, from shoe size to plantars faciitis (I wrote about fixing that too). Your knee popping is likely caused by slight inflammation in the knee which causes your knee cap ridge to ride out of the groove (I had that happen for a while too). The back of the knee dealio is a new one to me.

    Don’t stop running! It’ll keep you healthier by signaling your brain to build bone mass. Cycling robs you of bone mass because of the lack of “impact”. Instead, go to your local running shoe store and tell them, in detail, the problems you’re having (don’t buy the orthotics before you research). They should be able to help. If they can’t, find a local doctor, a practicing kinesiologist (mechanics, not medication). In the mean time, try these stretches: http://fitrecovery.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/recovery-from-leg-injury-and-the-dreaded-plantar-fasciitis/

    Good luck.

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