Can Taking To Two Wheels Make You A Better Runner?

May 26, 2016


low angle view of cyclist riding mountain bike on rocky trail at sunrise

It’s all too easy to pick up niggling injuries performing the sports and leisure activities we love to do. This can be especially so for runners. Runners love to run and push themselves to improve their fitness. But the pounding of pavements and often not enough recovery time between training sessions can lead to niggling injuries such as Achilles, knee, hip and back pain. Having treated many patients with such sporting injuries, along with the rehabilitation and treatment to enable them to return to running, I have advised that they become a more rounded athlete. Choosing another discipline enables their bodies to recover from the stresses that running puts on the body and that may even improve their running.

The benefits of two wheels

Cycling is a popular activity and in recent years has become increasingly popular by the success of Team GB in the Olympics with athletes, Bradley Wiggins CBE, Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton CBE, Laura Trott OBE and the recent Tour de France wins by Chris Froome OBE.
It is no wonder that cycling has become the most popular outdoor cross-training activity for runners and for a good reason too! It gives their heart and lungs a great workout and because it is low impact it’s kinder on your joints. Both running and cycling use the same muscle groups but in different ways. This variation of exercise provides athletes with a more balanced fitness regime reducing the likelihood of injuries due to high impact repetition that running can cause.
Cycling will also give you an upper body workout especially when you are working hard out of the saddle against a hill.

Cycling can be very satisfying, covering great distances with varied scenery. A 20-mile cycle ride will no doubt take much less toll on your body (and leisure time) than a 20-mile run. Many long distance athletes will often swap a long run in favour of a long cycle, to give their bodies and minds a break from the monotony from staring at the pavement.
Triathlons! Yes, I did say triathlons, having added cycling to your fitness regime, you only need to master swimming in the pool. This is again another good discipline to consider for cross training for a more rounded fitness regime and injury prevention. Food for thought!

Getting your peddles

There are lots of bikes and gear on the market, where should you start? Getting the right bike and saddle is probably the most important factor. There are pure road bikes, cross bikes and mountain bikes to name a few. The bike fit is important, so seek assistance from the bike retailer. Take time and have serious thought at what type of cycling discipline you will enjoy and buy the bike accordingly. Look at bike to work schemes from your employer, salary sacrifice may enable you to purchase a high-end bike (£1000 +) with monthly instalments. A possible example is £50 -£80 a month over 12-18 month period. Work out if the figures stack up compared to purchasing from a retailer, the discounts from salary sacrifice are quite favourable.

Putting in the miles

As when running, gradually increase your distances, giving your body (and to be honest your backside)time to adjust to life in the saddle. It is also wise to attain some simple basic mechanical skills, how to repair a puncture, workings of gears and brakes.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this, feel free to share, leave comments or give us feedback on what you’d like to know more about!

If you’d like to make an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists, contact us via


Mark Smith