Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Running vs. Cycling

It has come to my amazed attention how different running and cycling are from one another. 

Of course, cycling involves a machine with wheels that you sit on while running requires nothing more than your own legs in a standing position.  You would agree I'm sure that each discipline makes use of it's own unique muscle groups.  However, I have been surprised in the last couple days at how separate these muscle groups work.

After the NERelay, it has been difficult to walk stairs (I'm still walking down stairs backwards), my calves have been quite sore and tight, and the while I'm sure I could run if need be, it still causes me pain to do so. 

In an attempt to loosen up my muscles, I hopped on a bike at work Monday.  I figured it would be the easiest on my sore legs.  I hopped on and began spinning my legs.  To my amazement, my calves didn't hurt.  My fatigued quads felt noticeably fresher.  I assumed it must be the cycling muscles taking over for the shared muscles with running.  Right?

Then yesterday I hopped on my trainer and rode 20 miles with no soreness and another 22 miles today.  My legs are feeling better now, but I'm still walking backwards down stairs and won't consider running yet.  I did get a massage yesterday as well.  That felt amazing!  And I already scheduled another for the week of my Half Iron.  I figure it couldn't hurt to make sure I go into the race as fresh as possible. 

It is amazing how separate the muscles for cycling and running are.  If you know anything anatomy or physiologically about this, I'd be more than happy to hear about it.  I'm intrigued. 


1.  Do you do any cross-training?  If so, what kind?
Triathlon training has been its own cross training for me, though I try to strength train and do yoga when I find the time.

2.  What is your favorite way to relax sore muscles?

Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 


Megan said...

Lately I have been alternating running about 2 miles and riding my bike about 5-10 miles, depending on the day. I don't know if this is beneficial?

I need to get a hold of a sprint triathlon training schedule. I just started taking swimming lessons, and my teacher told me I've pretty much got the hang of it and I could do a triathlon. Do you have any tips?

Coy Martinez said...

I use to think I could stay running fit by cycling but it's not very true. I mean, you can to a certain extent but each part of Tri Training is unique. Running is it's own monster.

Run with Jess said...

While they are different muscles, I find I run stronger and get less fatigued while running when I've been loyal to my cross-training (hard spinning). Although I believe some of it to be mental also...

it's all about pace said...

cycling and running go together like peas and carrots

Matthew Smith said...

I don't know a thing about A&P, but I do know what pain you're talking about. I hope you continue to feel better.

Unknown said...

Of course I know nothing about anatomy and why this feels fine when your legs are screaming, but use it to your power! We always bike after a tough run... loosens those muscles and gets you a workout! ;)

Michael said...

I also "try" to do yoga, but it seems like I never find the time. I need to start making the time though because I am seriously injury prone and I think it would help. Hope you are feeling better soon!

Kevin said...

Of course I swim, bike and run but I also weight train 4 days a week.


Anonymous said...

Very true. I've always thought if we do both it balances out our legs. I think that only running only strengthens certain muscles and leaves the others to just get weak. Biking can fix that. Now that I'm training for my first half IM I feel more balanced then when I just ran.. I'm still waiting for my body to look more muscular though.

Jennifer said...

In addition to differences in muscle groups, I would consider the fact that running is more of a weight bearing exercise. During running your legs take on a heavier load. When cycling, your legs don't need to work against gravity or your body weight, nor do they need to absorb the shock of hitting the pavement.

Anatomy-wise I would think cycling uses more of the upper leg, whereas running uses more of the lower leg. As a runner, my post-relay leg pain is the opposite of "cycling" post-relay pain. Stupid hills killed my quads/hammys.

5 Miles Past Empty said...

I think you are right. I recall my hamstrings and quads screaming after a good spin class. BUT i also know that my legs are smoked after a ridiculous bike ride when I try to run. So different yet inseparable...don't forget that! =)

I've been throwing down some mad swimming sets!!!! And started Ab Ripper x and weights! I'm a killer!!

Richelle said...

I usually cross-train in the winter when I don't want to run outside. I usually swim or spin.

My fiance gives good massages, so after a tough workout, I ask him nicely to massage my legs for me. Ice is also awesome.