Cycling Transfering

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  • #43398
    esbonin
    Participant

    Hello All, I have been doing a bunch of cycling lately due to ankle surgeries. I was wondering if there are any articles of such about how cycling transfers to skiing? I’m aware of the aerobic benefits but wondering if there are any others? Along with if there are specific things I should be doing to get the most of those benefits?

    I did do a quick search so please link to any threads I might have missed. Thanks

Posted In: Ski Mountaineering

  • Participant
    briguy on #43400

    Keep searching because this has been discussed quite a bit here, and elsewhere on the web.

    For UA, the general consensus/answer is that there isn’t much transfer from cycling over to uphill training. If you want to increase the transfer, try taking off the seat and doing all of your cycling standing up. This works a bit better when mtn bikign and won’t attract quite as many stares. 🙂

    Participant
    rich.b on #43426

    When running is not an option than certainly cycling is a great alternative (at least better than the alternative of not training). I have spent some time searching the research literature, and there is not much of specific use there.
    Some years back I had an alpine race (45+ km with 2500 m climbing) planned for early summer, but had a bout of plantar fasciitis during late fall–early winter, which wound up being 3 months with no running. Consequently – as your situation – cycling was my only endurance option. There were three parts to my altered training regime: endurance cycling outdoors (winter riding using a single speed, which in cold and snow is work), one indoor workout per week that was interval focused, and a strength training phase in the gym. The indoor workout was one of two approaches: 1) high-intensity intervals (ranging from 30 sec to 2 min) with 10 squats holding a 15 kg weight after each interval then 1-2 min recovery, or 2) an ‘alpine climb’ with increase in resistance every 2 min with the final hardest levels using my hands on my knees as I would do on a steep climb running, also. These sessions included 15 min warm-up, 30 min of the workout part and 15 min warm-down for a total of an hour. For strength training I did 2 sessions per week with one session focused on near or max weights with few reps – thus focusing on strength not mass.
    I found this worked extremely well and transferred well; with muscular endurance well developed I spent the transition back into running working on running endurance and later some specific uphill/downhill sessions. Again, when running is not an option, you can make cycling work.

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #43474

    @rich-bindler: Interesting. I’ve been wondering about just such an approach for a while. Just to make sure that I understand: 1) Your general aerobic work was done cycling; but 2) strength and intensity was weight-bearing?

    I’m curious about this because I’ve always been a reluctant runner and maximizing my performance is no longer a priority.

    Participant
    esbonin on #43494

    Thanks all. @rich-bindler that’s for the specifics.

    Participant
    atamank on #43636

    Biking as training for skimo is in general no-no here. However when you check the most successful athletes on strava you will see that besides running they spend very large portion of their summer training time on bike.
    For example, Grace Staberg coached by skimo legend Laetitia Roux: https://www.strava.com/athletes/11751766
    John Gaston, probably currently best US skimo athlete: https://www.strava.com/athletes/406911

    And you will find lots of other similar examples. Anyway you will hear here that they could get better results with running because…
    Imo biking is extremely useful when mixed with running, you can score lots of additional volume without such impact on your joints and muscles as when running. After 3h of biking I’m recovering faster than after 1h or running. I’ve noted very good improvements with that approach comparing when I just used to focus on running/hiking alone.

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #43645

    @atamank: Dude, you’ve got to change your avatar photo… 🙂

    I think it’s an overstatement to say that biking is a no-no here. I prescribe it to my athletes all the time after they’ve done their key sessions. Some of our trail running plans even include swim workouts which won’t do a hell of a lot for uphill sports.

    For me it comes down to statistics. Saying “this is what I did and it worked so it’s a good choice” isn’t a valid conclusion. It could only be valid if you measured it against every other possible thing you could have done.

    The same issue arises with the “superstar does it so it must be the best choice”. Again, that can only be a valid conclusion if you measure it against every other option the athlete could have done int he same training season. Again, impossible.

    Really what’s happening above is confirmation bias: “I want to bike instead, so where’s the evidence I need to support that? There it is!” 🙂 (I’m the same way; I’ve never been a fan of running.)

    Obviously the necessary comparisons are impossible. So the next best thing is to look at what the most successful athletes in mature sports do. The reason to use mature sports as an example is that those sports have measured every imaginable approach over millions of training hours. They have enough of a test sample for their conclusions to be closer to the truth.

    So for weight-bearing sports, I’d rather pay attention to what the Norwegians are doing with their athletes like Marit Bjoergen. The Norwegian methods are applied across thousands of skiers over their younger years and that pool of training produces some of the best endurance athletes the world has ever seen.

    In Bjoergen’s case, here’s her career-long intensity distribution:

    Her best results coincided with her highest volumes of low intensity, built up over a decade.

    Marit Bjoergen intensity distribution

    And the real spoiler, her distribution across training modes:

    Notice that cycling is a very small part of the low-intensity training volume (“LIT” in the upper right quadrant) and even running is labeled as non-specific. Damn Norwegians.

    Marit Bjoergen modal distribution

    When I started skimo training, I bought a bike because I liked cycling way more than I liked running. But then the more reading I did, I realized that it wouldn’t prepare me as well as running and roller skiing. (The first is tedious; the second, terrifying.) But I was 40 and racing for the first time. I wanted to be as prepared as possible.

    Now my performance isn’t as important, and I’m much more interested in having fun year-round. So my training is less focused, and I’m much more apt to choose cycling over running.

    So saying, “you must never bike” is as silly as saying “biking works just as well”. What are your priorities? Performance or participation? Choose and then prepare appropriately.

    Participant
    esbonin on #43648

    Thanks, @atamank & @scottsemple,
    Like Scott, I hate to run. I did it for a while then my knees and ankles got worse and it was too painful. Which led to not being able to put in the time for the benefit I was looking for. I have always biked and loved it. This week alone I have put in about 76 miles. Right now I using it to build habits and losing weight so that when I get back to sport-specific activities, my knees and ankle won’t hate me.

    My hope is that the Aerobic and mental aspect of slogging on a bike will have some transfer to hiking and running. Thoughts?

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #43676

    Makes sense.

    My hope is that the Aerobic and mental aspect of slogging on a bike will have some transfer to hiking and running. Thoughts?

    I don’t have enough cycling experience to say. (I’m just getting started with it.) But a friend who is a competitive MTBer says he hates running with his wife because it kills his legs. He almost never runs though.

    Perhaps the others in this thread can comment.

    Participant
    rich.b on #43696

    Scott,
    Yes, aerobic work for the 3-month period was all cycling. For context it was during winter months, which means heavier studded tires and cold and snow and thus less easy-spinning kms. I still compensated with a couple extra hours riding per week compared to running time before PF. Because I had an alpine race on the early summer horizon I did do one indoor session, typically with some type of intervals as described (an ’alpine clime’ with increasing resistenc or 30-60 sec intervals paired with the rapid weighted squats).
    Strength sessions were essentially in line with TfUA’s recommendations, with emphasis on higher loads and fewer reps. One benefit from this, besides the strength benefits, has been that I experience less DOMS as compared to more reps and less weight. Focus is mainly on free weights and the classics: Squats, deadlifts, standing press, etc. My absolute favorite session (which I cannot do if PF flares up) is Curtis P (from formerly called Mountain Athlete).
    After 3 months I transitioned back to running-centric training over about 2 months, and found the endurance and strength directly transferable.
    Another quick comment about whether the mental aspects of slogging on a bike transfer to running — absolutely! I was certain that running up to 3000 m elevation (I live at sea level) would not be worse than riding at -20C in snow and dark.

    Participant
    rich.b on #43697

    I should add — given this is under ski mountaineering — that it helps me with uphill strength and endurance for ski mountaineering as well (now that I have started that this past winter/spring).

    Participant
    atamank on #43746

    <quote>@atamank: Dude, you’ve got to change your avatar photo… ?</quote>
    What’s wrong with it? It’s sweet and I love it 🙂

    First of all, thanks for your long response, really appreciate it!

    I’m not saying – quit running and go biking. Also my point wasn’t that running is bad or biking is better. I’m positive that running is probably best option out there BUT, it comes with a big cost of stress for the body. That’s why biking is very useful for logging lots of additional volume with much less impact on the joints, bones, etc.

    Those charts doesn’t proove much imo. Marit Bjoergen did a lot of LI volume what translated to better results. I agree with that approach to training, moreover this is where biking comes handy to score lots of additional volume.
    Cross-country skiing in very different comparing to skimo though, so for me it’s not a good comparison. There is almost no vertical elevation, no downhill skiing. It’s similar to running on flat ground. You said that my example is not good because they are skimo superstars and what they do doesn’t mean it’s good for me, while your example of training approach is Marit Bjoergen who is cross-country superstar – completely different discipline 🙂

    Skimo is more similar to mountain running, and mountain running is an excellent tool for training skimo. BUT, it comes with huge cost when you have to go downhill.

    At present I use mountain running mainly for high intensity training, while in the meantime I score lots of additional low intensity volume by biking. And this approach brings for me better results comparing to the previous years when I was focused mainly on running and roller skiing.

    Another example, Remi Bonnet: https://www.strava.com/pros/5020615
    Almost a half of his summer training consists of biking. Remi and his coach also came to this conclusion? 😉 “I want to bike instead, so where’s the evidence I need to support that? There it is!”

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #43748

    I’m positive that running is probably best option out there BUT, it comes with a big cost of stress for the body.

    Agreed.

    Those charts doesn’t proove much imo.

    For one person, no. But I think it’s safe to assume that that same breakdown is applied to all top-level Norwegian skiers, perhaps the whole country, and they dominate XC.

    Marit Bjoergen did a lot of LI volume what translated to better results.

    Yes, and just as important, her training was as specific as possible.

    There is almost no vertical elevation, no downhill skiing. It’s similar to running on flat ground.

    Then you haven’t done much ski touring with high-level XC skiers.

    You said that my example is not good because they are skimo superstars and what they do doesn’t mean it’s good for me, while your example of training approach is Marit Bjoergen who is cross-country superstar – completely different discipline

    You misunderstood. The sample-of-one super-star factor is irrelevant in both cases. I used the Bjoergen charts because they’re indicative of the Norwegian program that has been applied to thousands of XC skiers with superb results. (I can send more from other Norwegian skiers if you like.) In contrast, comparing that pool of data to “so-and-so rides a bike” is laughable.

    Skimo is more similar to mountain running, and mountain running is an excellent tool for training skimo. BUT, it comes with huge cost when you have to go downhill.

    Agreed. And running downhill is not specific to skiing downhill, but it is still more specific than biking downhill, especially one road bike. (MTB would have more of a downhill leg load.) I suspect an ideal training approach would be running uphill and then doing dynamic squats in the gondola ride down.

    At present I use mountain running mainly for high intensity training, while in the meantime I score lots of additional low intensity volume by biking. And this approach brings for me better results comparing to the previous years when I was focused mainly on running and roller skiing.

    There are too many other factors to make that conclusion. Maybe your prior programming could have been better. Maybe you were running too fast, etc.

    You’re making the same (mental) mistake as Bonnet with:

    “I want to bike instead, so where’s the evidence I need to support that? There it is!”

    That about sums it up! #SCIENCE!

    NEXT QUESTION: Why do so many people ask a variant of, “Can I perform just as well if I bike for [my_weight_bearing_goal] instead of running?” while no one ever asks, “Can I train as a runner for my bike race?”

    ANSWER: Because they’re not asking about training with only performance in mind. They’re asking about training while also having fun. Conflating the two is just confirmation bias.

    Participant
    esbonin on #43751

    ANSWER: Because they’re not asking about training with only performance in mind. They’re asking about training while also having fun. Conflating the two is just confirmation bias.


    @Scott
    Semple, I agree and disagree with the above. I went for a 2 mile run at about a pace of 12-minute miles. When I was done My knees were so sore that I could walk upstairs. So in my case, cycling is a great way for me to push my endurance, cardio, and get that volume w/ still being functional the next day. Saturday I did a 62-mile ride and felt great during and after. Which makes the 2-mile run sidelining me is frustrating.

    I really appreciate this discussion and all the ideas being discussed. Thanks for being great at sharing.

    I will be looking to transition to trail running this fall hopefully I’ll be able to figure it out w/o the pain.

    Participant
    hafjell on #43755

    A few thoughts:

    1. If weight loss is the goal, wouldn’t the OP be better of hiking instead of running to save his ankles? I see a lot of fat mtn bikers with wicked strong legs who crush the descents. Same with swimming. Go to Aquatic Park in SF and see all the fat people crush very cold water swimming. Mechanical advantage on the bike and buoyancy in the water won’t transfer as well as hiking. Walk before you run.

    2. Squats in the gondola! I am running up and taking the lifts down this summer to preserve joints and time. But I’m checking my phone while seated on the gondola. Perhaps I need to sneak a rock on and continue the workout.

    3. I read a blog post by Gaston or his crew in which they discussed supplementing bike rides for very long days to avoid running wear and tear, This doesn’t apply, imo, to the OP. In time maybe. HE needs weight loss which will be easier weightborn. No sure he needs to try to run though. Just hike until the joints recover.

    Edit: Don’t think the mental benefit of training on long rides will transfer unless you are very new to endurance sports. Given your current volume of hiking (pretty good! Remember not to beat yourself up too much emotionally.) you know what hard feels like, the temptation to quit, the temptation to take an extra day off. I think you might just be returning to running too soon for your ankle. If you can handle the hiking, keep doing it until the weight comes down.

    Participant
    atamank on #43762

    You misunderstood. The sample-of-one super-star factor is irrelevant in both cases. I used the Bjoergen charts because they’re indicative of the Norwegian program that has been applied to thousands of XC skiers with superb results. (I can send more from other Norwegian skiers if you like.) In contrast, comparing that pool of data to “so-and-so rides a bike” is laughable.

    I understand that, but you are applying cross-country training priciples to skimo training.
    You basically say that for skimo – Bjoergen’s training approach (who trained for cross-country) is better than Bonnet’s, Gaston’s, etc. (who train for skimo). Even though they are world class elite with exceptional results in skimo competition.
    If elite skimo athletes do include a good amount of biking during the summer there is no good reason for that? They and their coaches don’t know yet that they should follow Bjoergen’s training priciples to achieve better results?

    Then you haven’t done much ski touring with high-level XC skiers.

    Have you tried ski touring with high-level mtb bike athlete? This again proves nothing 🙂

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