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Running and cycling ability don’t always cross over

February has on the whole been a good Ironman70.3 training month with a half marathon PB, shoulder injury rehab going well and getting more miles in on the bike. I’ve also improved my diet with more protein intake to help with strength and recovery. But there have also been frustrations!

Running is my strongest of the three disciplines but I find this doesn’t translate into equal ability on the bike. Why, I ask myself in moments of negative thinking, can I knock out 13.1 miles of running reasonably competently , yet cycling continues to frustrate and burn in unfathomable ways? I wouldn’t expect running proficiency to make someone a good gymnast but cycling and running are similar right? They are both aerobic based sports and they both use the legs!

It’s an interesting concept, cross over of sporting abilities and cross training. Running and cycling actually recruit quite different neuromuscular patterns. Running for the most part relies on type 1 fibers to produce muscular contraction where as cycling relies more on recruitment of type 11A and 11x fibers. Cycling uses different muscle groups and it is a more quad dominant sport for example, it also facilitates the hip flexors in different ways to produce the pedalling motion. Neuromuscular fatigue also follows a different pattern between the two sports and there is an element of strength that is required in cycling that isn’t in running and vice versa.

I know what I need to do. I need to resist the temptation to focus on my favourite sport and focus on bike fitness, technique and positivity. It’s the biggest portion of the race and where most gains can be made. The mornings are lighter, buds are forming and the sun is moving higher in the sky making for better cycling weather. I am also fortunate to have an excellent local cycling business in Roots Cycles ( who can service my bike and offer advice about position and all things cycling related.

It might be that my cycling will never match my running but I’ve got no excuse not to get my head down and try.

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