As athletes it’s easy for us to become purists: Most cyclists get sore at the thought of running and runners cringe at the thought of pedaling in circles. Many of us have had the concept of specificity drilled into our heads and the idea of doing an entirely different sport might seem like a waste of time.
Yet the health benefits of cross-training have been demonstrated repeatedly and it’s clear that doing just one sport can lead to imbalances and increase our risk of injury. There is a growing body of research supporting a crossover effect with cross-training that may improve the performance in your main sport.
Here to talk with us about how to take advantage of this crossover effect is a coach and athlete who has no problems with cross-training—Lauren Vallee, the owner of Valiant Endurance. Fresh from racing the Ironman World Championship in Kona recently, Vallee knows a thing or two about getting the most from both running and cycling. She brings her experience to this episode to teach us how to best use one sport to maximize another while limiting the risk of injury.
And if you’re looking to put her advice into practice, you’ll find three of Vallee’s go-to bike and run workouts here.
Along with Vallee, we talk with other cross-training experts including physiologist Bent Rønnestad, retired professional cyclist Brent Bookwalter, and top coaches Neal Henderson and Houshang Amiri.
So, put on your bike shoes—and your running shoes—and let’s make you fast!
Barry, D. W., & Kohrt, W. M. (2008). BMD Decreases Over the Course of a Year in Competitive Male Cyclists. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 23(4), 484–491. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1359/jbmr.071203
Brearley, S., & Bishop, C. (2019). Transfer of Training. Strength and Conditioning Journal, Publish Ahead of Print(NA;), NA; Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1519/ssc.0000000000000450
Brennan, D. K., & Wilder, R. P. (1996). Cross-training and periodization in running. Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 6(1), 49–58. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3233/bmr-1996-6106
Chan, H. C.-K., Ho, W. K.-Y., & Yung, P. S.-H. (2018). Sprint cycling training improves intermittent run performance. Asia-Pacific Journal of Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation and Technology, 11, 6–11. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asmart.2017.11.001
Issurin, V. B. (2013). Training Transfer: Scientific Background and Insights for Practical Application. Sports Medicine, 43(8), 675–694. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-013-0049-6
Jafariyan, S., Monazzami, A., Nikousefat, Z., Nobahar, M., & Yari, K. (2017). Inflammatory and immune responses to a 3-day period of downhill running in active females. Cellular and Molecular Biology, 63(7), 76–83. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14715/cmb/2017.63.7.13
Komnos, G. A., & Menetrey, J. (2022). The Running Athlete, A Comprehensive Overview of Running in Different Sports, 233–237. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-65064-6_26
Mallol, M., Norton, L., Bentley, D. J., Mejuto, G., Norton, K., & Yanci, J. (2020). Physiological Response Differences between Run and Cycle High Intensity Interval Training Program in Recreational Middle Age Female Runners. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 19(3), 508–516.
Millet, G. P., Vleck, V. E., & Bentley, D. J. (2009). Physiological Differences Between Cycling and Running. Sports Medicine, 39(3), 179–206. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200939030-00002
Paquette, M. R., Peel, S. A., Smith, R. E., Temme, M., & Dwyer, J. N. (2018). The Impact of Different Cross-Training Modalities on Performance and Injury-Related Variables in High School Cross Country Runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 32(6), 1745–1753. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000002042
Swinnen, W., Kipp, S., & Kram, R. (2018). Comparison of running and cycling economy in runners, cyclists, and triathletes. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 118(7), 1331–1338. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-018-3865-4
Takahashi, K., Shirai, Y., Oki, S., & Nabekura, Y. (2022). The effect of a decrease in stretch-shortening cycle function after cycling on subsequent running. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 25(3), 261–265. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2021.09.004
Tanaka, H. (1994). Effects of Cross-Training. Sports Medicine, 18(5), 330–339. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-199418050-00005