Bike vs. Run as a method of aerobic training

  • Creator
  • #4932

    Hi everyone,

    I was wondering if I can complement my aerobic training so far mostly done with runs and long approaches/walks in the mountains with cycling? I would prefer riding a bike as to spare my knees and other joints that are getting a beating with running.

    Many thanks for your thoughts.

    Best, Peter

  • Participant
    sambedell on #4934

    Hi Peter,

    I add in the bike quite a bit and have had good success off of it. I think for me, coming from a running background, the bike has a different range of motion that involves more pushing down which is a good crossover to climbing that I don’t get running. However, as TFNA mentions, seated bicycling is not weight bearing and that makes it less applicable to climbing and hiking. Ideally you would bike standing the whole time but that may also get your knees.

    On another note, if running is bugging your knees I would consider addressing form and strength imbalances in the lower legs. Make sure you are not wearing super squishy shoes that allow for excessive lateral motion. Make sure you are picking your feet up while running. Try jogging barefoot on a flat grass field (local schools work well for this) for part or all of your run once or twice a week. My 2 cents from a decade of competitive cross country and track racing.

    cramblda on #4936

    Great discussion. I too have been wondering about using some biking or another endurance activity. I worry that lots of 2-3 hour runs are going to take a toll on my legs.

    Are there any other endurance activities that work well? Indoor Rowing? I already do lots of uphill hiking/climbing on the weekends. Let’s say endurance activities aside from hiking/climbing, they should be a given.

    I also have a question along the lines of your running form comments. I notice when I’m doing my easier Z1 runs, my running gait is naturally much more closed. When I first started this style of training last year, my Z1 pace was 12:30-13:00 pace and my Z3 was around 10:00. Now my Z1 is closer to 10:00 pace and my Z3 is closer to 7:30 pace. I certainly see an improvement in my gait as my pace quickens. However, is it possible to improve your gate with drills, or another method, for these easier Z1 runs? I notice my hamstrings get locked up tight on the Z1 runs. I need to stop every mile or two and stretch my calves and hamstrings a bit to keep them from locking up. I do have tight hips to begin with and I’m working on that as well. I have tried to open my gait a bit on my Z1 runs and I find my heart rate shoots up quick at the same pace.

    Mariner_9 on #4937

    There have been a couple of discussions about cycling for training which you might have missed and might be useful:

    Cycling Trainers

    Guidelines for low impact activities

    Also see this – not about cycling, just low impact endurance activities which cramblda mentioned: Stairmaster

    I used the cross-trainer at the gym recently for variety (rather than doing stairs again) and wondered how useful/applicable it is. Certainly kinder on the knees than stairs.


    sambedell on #4941


    I would say eliptical or stair machines will be more effective than rowing, unless your goal is lots of steep climbing and not much hiking/scrambling (specificity rules).

    Regarding running form drills: there are a ton. The question is, what are your neuromuscular weaknesses and what are your goals? Obviously you are not trying to run a fast mile or even 5k/10k. Seems like the main thing for us alpine folks is having efficient form in Z1 so we can go longer with less overuse injuries. In my experience that is more of a lower leg strength and stability issue, although not always.
    -Scott’s Killer Core hits a lot of stuff in the hips and thighs.
    -I like to throw in some high knees, butt kickers, grapevines, and backwards run in the middle or end of an easy Z1 once every week or two (google those if you don’t know what they are, there are tons of videos).
    -Barefoot grass running for a few laps in the middle of a run and/or walking on toes and heels (also barefoot, post run) is great for strengthening lower leg stability muscles (I started doing those in college after several chronic injuries in high school and never had a major injury again while competing seriously).
    -Stretching and rolling are also pretty helpful post workout (hold stretches for 30-60 seconds)… this article might be helpful: article

    Regarding the locking up of muscles I would say keep up the easy running, but consider doing a cycle of the hill sprints for max strength, recommended in TFNA, after you have been doing some drills and stretches regularly for a couple months. Sounds like you might have a running version of what the Tony Yaniro side article in TFNA describes… if you can’t do the moves you have nothing to endure.

    Hope the long-winded response helps.

    Pete on #4942

    Thanks guys! Tons of good advice to go through and try in my future training.


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