Pedal to Run Fast

By Doug Katona, Spinning Master Instructor

Me run? Are you nuts? I am a cyclist—cyclists pedal. Runners run. It’s that simple—at least that’s what I used to think several years ago. But now that I have taken up running, I think to myself, “how can I get my 5K time under 18 minutes?” The cross-training benefits from cycling to running are great and the Spinning program has been the “X factor” in reducing my run times. If you’re a runner, you may even benefit more from the Spinning program than might a cyclist. Want to run faster? Spinning classes will do the trick.

There are more similarities than differences between running and the Spinning program. Cadences are similar. The training approach is mirrored. Power output is a major indicator of performance. And both are extremely functional in their fitness application.

“There is no question the Spinning program makes you stronger without the impact,” says Thomas Miller, multi-sport coach and nine-time Ironman competitor. “I did three TransRockies (a sort of Tour de France on foot) with 30 percent less mileage than the other top-level competitors and I was still climbing with the best of them. The Spinning program has been my secret weapon.”
Recent studies have shown that cycling can improve 10K race times by nine percent and 5K times by three percent. Do the math. That’s often the difference in securing podium placement or not (kind of like cycling).

And what about injuries? Injuries seem to limit runners’ performance potential much more than cyclists. Studies show that for every 1,000 hours of each sport, cycling sees about half the amount of injuries compared to running. Fewer injuries leads to a longer career.

One of the most significant points is the functional component that the Spinning program provides the pavement pounder. Just like in Spinning classes, the more resistance you can handle, the stronger you are. When you run at higher volumes or higher intensities, it often means more impact or more recovery needed. The Spinning program provides structured interval training to increase training loads with shorter recovery windows. Plus, Spinning classes will strengthen muscles needed for running without the compression impact of running.

I wrote a blog on the Spinning Community site in March and talked about the effect cadence has in relationship to foot strikes. The more efficient you are with pedal cadence, the more powerful you will be in cycling. Running is very similar. The less time your feet spend on the ground, the better. Studies have shown a correlation between pedaling at a high cadence and running at a high cadence. The results show that the shorter your contact time with the ground, the less chance you have for injury.

Spinning classes also provide additional base-building opportunities for runners. You can ride for 45–60 minutes while maintaining a stable heart rate without the obstacles of outdoor terrain change, climate or other non-stabilizing forces. Just like cyclists, runners benefit from time trial efforts and Spinning classes give the runner a stable, consistent training environment.

One of the most undervalued benefits might be the fact that you can improve as a runner without running! You get to enjoy some music, see some different faces and still get a heck of a training session.

Spinning classes just may be the key to unlocking the secret of running faster without running—5K anyone?

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Nutritional Tips for a Healthy Recovery Phase

23 September 2010
By USAT Coach Andrew Johnson (featured in the TrainingPeaks Official Blog)

Overtraining is often seen as pushing your body too far in training, but it can also be due to poor recovery. That is, had the athlete been more attentive to their recovery, they may not have pushed their body into that depleted state. Rather than overtraining, the athlete has actually under-recovered. This is why one of my favorite sayings as a coach is “the only thing you need to take more seriously than your training is your recovery”. This singular statement illustrates how important recovery really is.

I put recovery into two categories, micro and macro. Micro recovery is the day to day cycle of refueling and repairing your body while macro recovery refers to a period when an athlete is in need of a longer period of recovery. Poor micro recovery leads to more and longer periods of macro recovery. Basically, if you don’t pay attention to the day to day needs of your body, it will catch up with you in the end.

By now, the science of recovery has been well established. Post workout, an athlete needs to ingest a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, anti-oxidants and vitamins and minerals. A ratio of approximately 4 to 1 carbohydrates to protein has been shown to be the most effective. Your carbohydrates should come from good sources like whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Good protein choices include almond butter, cottage cheese, nuts or Greek style yogurt. In addition to good carbohydrates, fruits provide anti-oxidants as well as vitamins and minerals. Some of the best out there are blackberries, blueberries, apples and pomegranates. One of my favorite post workout meals is quinoa (a simple whole grain that also has a full spectrum of amino acids), a mix of berries, walnuts, cinnamon (very high in anti-oxidants) and bit of honey. For those that cannot stomach whole foods after a workout, there are several good recovery drinks and shakes that will do the trick.
The second step is to make good nutritional choices throughout the day. Again, choose foods that have high nutritional values like fruits and vegetables and whole grains. There is no secret here, eat what your mother told you to! This helps to keep your body ready for the coming workout. Sound nutrition on a daily basis will help you avoid pushing your body into a deep hole.

No matter how good your daily routine might be, you will need periods of macro recovery. Usually planned for after a major race or at the end of the season, this period is also key. Since training is at a minimum, good nutrition is a major factor. Here is a fantastic article by Joe Friel, that breaks down the essential nutritional needs of your body during the different phases of training.

If you are still in training season and the recovery cycle is a planned period in your training plan, your nutrition should essentially remain unchanged. Your body is still in need of quality calories to re-build itself. This is not the time to start eating junk food or gorging on pizza. Macro recovery nutrition only differs in that you may need to add more calorie dense foods to your diet. If you have lost significant weight due to heavy training, you may need to add some foods you haven’t eaten in awhile.

While training for an Ironman a few years back, I was told that I was losing too much weight. The solution was to calorie dense foods back into my diet. I found the healthiest options I could, this meant adding cheese to my salads, eating more nuts, peanut butter and I switched to regular butter. I even ate organic pop tarts and while not the healthiest thing, they provided me with much needed calories.

Athletes also need to take a break at the end of the season, or after a major race. This period is typically longer than if the athlete were in season and allows the athlete to fully recover from a summer spent racing. Many athletes will start by digging into the foods they avoided during training. The ice cream, candy and soda suddenly come back into your routine. I believe this is as much mental as it is physical. Having avoided sweets or cheese for so long, your mind is somehow comforted by eating these foods. I know what it’s like to crave a burger or pizza for weeks and then have it placed in front of you after a race. It’s a great feeling because you’ve earned it. While I believe that you have to give into this, it has to be in moderation. So go ahead and indulge some, just don’t do it for every meal of the day. You should still try to eat healthy and limit your intake of less than healthy food. I know that if I’m going to go out and have that pizza I’ve been craving, I will have a big salad at lunch to get in some good calories. A small measure of restraint and forethought goes a long way in avoiding major weight gain.

Nutrition is a key element to performance. It provides you with the means to repair your body and stay healthy. Following a few simple guidelines will help you train longer and recover faster. If you find yourself in need of some help with nutritional planning, check out the plans available through TrainingPeaks. It is a super convenient way to get expert nutritional advice every day. As you know, one of the features of the TrainingPeaks tool is the delivery of daily emails. Contained in those emails are your workouts as well as any meals you might have planned. It is a seriously easy way to stay nutritionally balanced during the different phases of training as well as during the all-important recovery phase.

AJ Johnson is a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling Certified Coach based in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. He has worked with D3 Multisport for the past seven years coaching athletes of all levels and abilities. He has completed 13 Ironman races, including three Ironman World Championships. Along with triathlon he also competes in mountain bike races, ski events, biathlons, cyclocross and any other event that intrigues him. You can follow him on his blog and find out more about his coaching.

Read the original post at TrainingPeaks.