Bike Training for Runners

Bike Training for Runners


Running is a great sport. Cycling is also a great sport, runners!

As a triathlete, I know first-hand how my running has benefitted from time spent on the bike; leg strength, cadence and cardio endurance, not to mention a little less wear and tear on my bones.

When time of the essence for any athlete’s existence, indoor bike training is increasingly becoming the go-to cross training for runners for the off-season, as a time-efficient way to build fitness, avoid injury, and even to assist dreaded rehab.

Bike training can benefit runners in myriad ways:

Avoiding injury: Spreading the load of training over two sports can help to avoid overuse injuries from a run-heavy training load. Not to mention spinning super easy on the pedals is a non-impact way to move the blood through the muscles for recovery.

Increase endurance:  Cycling is an endurance sport, and you can use the non-impact bearing training to build endurance over the off-season or early season by following training plans that are available.

Build strength: Biking is perfect cross training to build leg strength where running cannot.  Glutes are where the power comes from in running, and peddling on the bike builds that strength without a squat in sight.  

Increasing run cadence:  This is a huge win for cycling in a runner’s mind.  If you’re working towards a certain run cadence, cross training is a strong guidance to mimic the cadence to get the body in tune with the rhythm you’re looking for.

man on bike trainer watching TV in bedroom


Indoor bike training is the most time-efficient way for a runner to get rolling on two wheels.

We turned to pro triathlete Nicholas Chase for his take on the pros and cons of indoor bike training; he knows his stuff on this topic; he’s done it all!

Nicholas is an ambassador for the JackRabbit sister/brother site,  Nick is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach, IRONMAN Certified Coach, ISSA Elite Trainer and Co-Owns TRIBAL Multi-Sport.

In his role as coach, Nick works with athletes around the world, which means means exploring all training modalities, including indoor cycling.

Here’s what Nick has to say on the pros/cons of the bike trainer.


pros of indoor cycling

Pros: Indoor Bike Training

Let’s face it: the risk of being struck by a vehicle drops to 0%. For cyclists who have families, have seen friends recover from vehicular impact or have experienced the perils of road-riding first hand, indoor cycling is ideal.

Indoor cycling can improve the quality of your training session. Not everyone can walk out their front door and ride up mountains. Some have to fight for 30 minutes to escape endless traffic signals and distracted drivers. Why waste that time when you can immediately start your ride without breaks? For those of us who live in flat areas, it’s nearly impossible to get in any sort of climbing…and, no, bridges don’t count as a climb.

An indoor trainer can add the same type of sustained resistance that a 24-mile ride up a mountain can dish out. Plus, there aren’t any breaks, descents or stop lights…your legs only stop if you decide it’s time (unless you’re on a fixie).

Cycling indoors will reduce wear and tear on your gear too! Granted, you will need to cover your bike with a towel, since you’ll probably sweat profusely, burning through countless bottles of hydration as your alien-acid sweat soaks into your surroundings. Protecting your bike from road grime, heavy rain and bumpy roads can help sustain its life cycle too.

Indoor cycling is now a social experience when you have a ‘smart trainer’ one that can connect to the Internet.  Applications like ZWIFT make indoor training less boring, as your avatar blasts by other riders who are also on their indoor trainer.

With technology taking bigger steps toward virtual reality, we can probably expect a helmet that has a built-in screen and maybe a fan that mists water on your face if it’s raining in your virtual world.

Finally, smart bike trainers can also be controlled directly by those third party applications via Bluetooth or ANT+, meaning the rider’s only job is to control cadence…working with that sweet spot, hitting low cadence power-sets or spinning their feet off at 110 revolutions per minute.

cons of indoor bike training

Cons: Indoor Bike Training

Since we’ve hit some pros, it’s only fair to address the cons associated with indoor cycling. The list is short and will very from person to person based on opinion and outlook on their fitness, but the fact remains…it’s indoor cycling is NOT outside on a mountain.

In fact, indoor cycling can sometimes feel like a “pain cave” dungeon where the rider stares at a barren wall, counting the cracks.

Being indoors means you lose that “road” feel (unless you’re riding on rollers). And novice cyclists can miss out on vital opportunities to improve bike-handling skills like descending and cornering. Let’s also not forget stopping at intersections without tipping over.  Odds are 3 out of 5 cyclists have heard “TIMBER” as they toppled down in front of their friends and loved ones because they forgot to un-clip from their pedal. Nope—you won’t get that kind of experience from training indoors.

Aside from those few areas, the cons of indoor cycling are quite small, especially when you consider that regardless of the setbacks, indoor trainers let you take your ride indoors during winter or rainy season.

After all, an indoor ride is better than no ride.


Welcome to the land of Wahoo, Tacx and Elite - three of the biggest brands in the bike ‘gaming’ space. These are well worth the investment if you are committing to using biking as a key part of your training or live in a colder climate and want to make the most of the darker months.

With a smart trainer, you remove the back wheel of your trusty iron horse.  When connected to the device it can automatically set your resistance via your favorite app, opening up set training programs, races against other virtual riders across the globe, and the ability to be programed with a coach’s workout so there is no slacking allowed!

Parent?  A smart trainer is an even smarter investment to add to your ‘my-kids-are-sleeping/doing homework/watching tv/getting-up-to-mischief-and-I-need-to-train’ scenario.

The leader in the trainers using resistance as their protocol is Cycleops.  Resistance cycling trainers are compact, easily movable for space, and it’s just clip in your bike and GO.  

The magnetic resistance is smooth and you control the intensity of the workout as you would outside, with your gears.

Resistance trainers are great entry points for anyone ready to up their cycling game. To make resistance trainers ‘smarter’ you can add an additional speed and cadence sensors to use them with training apps such as Zwift.


cycling on an open road

About Author

Melanie Mitchell

Transforming movement into adventure. Our Mission: To personalize the fit process, hand-pick the best products, and create unique experiences that grow active communities.

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