Training on a bike rack in preparation for a trail runner

Often the preparation of a runner for an important start is quite long and monotonous. Using a bike rack will help add complexity and variability. This is especially important for trail runners. A bike station is convenient: you can train without leaving home, and a bike load solves many training tasks of a runner.

Why should trail runners train at a bike station and how to do it correctly, said multiple winner of international trail running competitions, running coach Dmitry Mityaev.

What is a bike rack

A bike rack is a fixed device that allows you to convert your bicycle, road bike or mountain bike, into an exercise bike. So you can warm up, train without going to the gym and without leaving your home.

There are several types of bike racks: roller, air, magnetic, liquid. You can find out more about the right bike rack for your tasks in the article How to choose a bike rack for training at home.

The benefits of cycling for runners

The main advantage is the variability of the training process. Every workout has goals and objectives, and many of us make the workout very similar, forgetting that through the workout we are simply affecting different body systems. Therefore, for most sports, including runners, related disciplines only diversify and complement the training program.

However, the primary means of training should always be special.

Training on a bike rack in preparation for a trail runner

Is the bike rack suitable for road racers

For running on flat ground, a bike is not the best developmental training tool, unlike trail runners. The higher the athlete’s level, the less cycling there should be in their training. It is best used as recovery training and, for example, before strength training.

But the biomechanics of uphill running and pedaling are very similar. If we compare stadium or highway running and high-grade cycling, then for cross-country running, the efficiency will be higher from a bike, and it can be used at all stages of preparation for beginners and experienced high-volume riders.

If we talk about the difference in the use of a bike rack for trail runners covering different distances – from a half marathon to an ultra, the difference will only be in the method of training, which is determined by the coach or the athlete himself.

For one athlete it is necessary to do more intense work, for another – longer work, and these are already aspects of the training structure itself. For the majority, the bicycle is used the same, regardless of the distance, individual body factors play more of a role.

There are no specific plans or recommendations on how to incorporate the bike machine into running workouts. It all depends on the goals and objectives of the athlete. An experienced trainer or an athlete himself, who understands the capabilities of his body, can build the optimal load.

Read more: Dmitry Mityaev: How to prepare for a high race

The main tasks of cycling training for runners

All top trail runners ride a bike and have an FTP* of at least 5 watts per kilogram, with most exceeding 5.5 watts per kilogram. This corresponds to the level of the best cyclists.

The bike can solve all training tasks for trail runners, it can be used for both development and recovery training. The bike unloads the musculoskeletal system perfectly, so the athlete can do more training work.

It is reasonable to use the bike more often in the volumetric stages, and closer to the start to do more special work so that the muscle fiber adapts.

A bike rack will be much more efficient and safer than a regular bike, especially if you train in cycling shoes and use an app like Zwift.

Training on a bike station in preparation for a runner

You will be pedaling constantly and any terrain can be selected which is very important as a cadence of 55-80 would be ideal for an alternative trail runner workout. But for a runner on flat ground, on the contrary, the cadence must be higher if he uses a bicycle.

But it is very important that you have the right fit. Muscles need to be ready because injuries can happen at low cadence with high resistance.

*FTP (Functional Threshold Power) – Functional Threshold Power test. This is a test to determine the average maximum power during a one hour cycle.

Types of drive on a bike rack

Depending on the training tasks, it is recommended to do long workouts on a bicycle machine in the early stages of training, then start running outdoors for a long time and repeat recovery exercises on the machine.

Closer to the start, development training can be done on the machine, and recovery and long-term training can be done while running.

However, the training mix is ​​individual, and the choice between running and the machine is influenced by the body’s response to the impact load. An important role is played by the physical level of the athlete and the initial physical data.

It is important not to forget about the quality volume and always adhere to the rule of such work: 80-90% in the heart rate zone 1-2 and only 10-20% of high-intensity training. Perform recovery training in intensity zones 1 and 2, it is recommended to use the third pulse zone only for tempo work and do the main work in the fourth zone.

Training on a bike station is effective for the development of the IPC, especially uphill: for example, 30 seconds fast after 30 seconds at a medium pace. This is a very good job, but you have to carefully add the number of repetitions.

How long should the training last?

High-quality training on the machine, and not “just a twist”, can take up to four hours. If the cycling takes place outdoors, for an experienced rider it may take 5-6 hours, but it is recommended that most workouts should not exceed three hours if long and no more than 90 minutes if recovery.

For a beginner, two hours on a bike at an easy pace will be enough – it can be a long training session in preparation for an ultramarathon, for more experienced athletes at different stages of training it can take 5-6 hours . It all depends on the training goals and tasks.

It should be noted that for most athletes the pulse during running and cycling, especially at the initial stage, will be significantly different – the pulse will be approximately 10-13 beats lower during cycling.

Learn more about heart rate zones: Heart rate zones for running and cycling.

Can a bike rack replace mountain running?

Of course, the bike rack will not completely replace it, but it will certainly complement and diversify the training process. Mountain running impacts a large number of muscles and any cyclic load can be used in the training process.

Try to make the training program as diverse as possible, both in terms of preparation and intensity, and then you can always enjoy the training process and progress for a long time and with high quality.

Podcast on the topic: Alexander Elkonin: is it possible to prepare for a mountain trail by training in the city