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Hey there, I’m a former Z4/Z5 runner who ended up here doing lots of Crossfit/HIIT for years and contracted ADS. I’m slowly building up to 3 hours of Z2 a day but it’s quite hard for me to run that much at elevation and in the mountains so I end up mostly hiking and running the flats/downhill. I recently bought a smart trainer to get in additional aerobic volume but was wondering if that has the same effect as hiking/jogging periodically or if I’m just wasting my time? I track my HR quite religiously to ensure I’m hitting my AeT on the bike and I’d imagine the heart doesn’t care how you got it into that zone but I’m no expert so I figured I’d ask here.
Posted In: General Training Discussion
From my years in multisport/triathlon, and my one year of ultra/mountain running, I think…
Cycling volume doesn’t really do much at all for flat-ground running. Been there. Tried it. Watched scores of other try it. People trying to cut running volume by riding more. Fails every time. Once you’re fit, they’re different sports and that’s that.
But…now that I have to do all this uphill work…I think cycling translates well to going uphill on foot. A very knowledgeable physiologist that’s well known in endurance sports agrees.
Running/hiking uphill uses the muscle through a range of motion as a motor pulling on levers. Running on flat ground uses the muscle as spring and a strut. Cycling is the former; not the latter.
Given that our events are on varied terrain, there’s another use for cycling. As a prep to a long run — “pre-fatigue.” I’ve done this the past two weekends. Ride about 45 minutes, with 30 of those minutes standing on the pedals uphill. Staying in Zn2.
Then come home and head out on the long run. Dang — what a difference. I feel like I’m getting in the second half benefits of a three hour run, but only putting 90 minutes of pounding on my knees. Similar effect to a hilly race where you go uphill a while, then have to flat-run.
As I build toward some long races this summer, I’m going to be using these uphill rides to get some vert into my legs without having to run back down all the time. I’ll do enough downhill specific prep to be ready, but in the regular course of training, every uphill step means a downhill step and I’d like to change that equation.
Thanks for the discussion link! 🙂
I agree with what you’re saying. My point is to use cycling to increase the volume even further than with your primary sport. For instance, I can’t increase my volume on running too fast or I’ll end up injured. I’d still like to get in more hours of aerobic activity while I’m building my base up though. Interesting to think about using cycling to pre-fatigue yourself before heading out into a run though!
Your logic seems reasonable: cycling as a complement to add general training volume that you cannot get from running at present. Trail riding gives more than road cycling, which is too efficient (but great for active recovery); trails take more work. When your legs don’t yet have the ability to do back-to-back longer sessions, it is possible to do a long run then a long ride the next day (or vice versa), which I think is also good mental training that gets you at least used to being out for long sessions. So it can be a useful training tool.
Sorry for the late response.
A few things:
I’m slowly building up to 3 hours of Z2 a day…
Three hours per day is a huge (professional level) amount of volume. If you’re new to structured aerobic training, there’s a very good chance that that’s too much, and it’ll backfire. Overtraining is to be avoided at all costs. Intentional under training should be embraced.
It’s like being on time. It’s impossible to be exactly on time, so embrace being early. In training, it’s impossible to find exactly the right load, so embrace doing less than your capable of. Your long-term progress will be much more sustainable and therefore much more substantial.
… but it’s quite hard for me to run that much at elevation and in the mountains so I end up mostly hiking and running the flats/downhill.
Totally normal. Very few humans can run uphill at a base training pace. “Mountain running” is a marketing term because “hiking races” just isn’t sexy.
I recently bought a smart trainer to get in additional aerobic volume but was wondering if that has the same effect as hiking/jogging periodically or if I’m just wasting my time?
Maybe. What’s a smart trainer? Do you mean a bike trainer? If so, it won’t transfer as well to weight-bearing sports, although as @AshRick said, it may transfer better to uphill hiking than flat road running.
I track my HR quite religiously to ensure I’m hitting my AeT on the bike and I’d imagine the heart doesn’t care how you got it into that zone but I’m no expert so I figured I’d ask here.
It definitely does care. Your threshold heart rate will vary per sport, especially when there’s a difference in muscle mass recruited. Cycling, with less muscle mass in action, will have lower threshold heart rates. So don’t use your running HRs for cycling or you’ll be going too hard.