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How to Balance Other Sports with your Cycling, and Stay Injury Free.

Balancing the three sports in tri, is the big puzzle, and the aspect of training that most people ask for some guidance around. Especially trying to balance improving on two wheels, where most time can be gained in a race, with keeping the other sports going in the right direction.

Running and strength training can be complementary to cycling - but only if implemented in the right way. Running is probably the most tricky to match with your cycling goals, but the main benefit of adding running, is to top up the aerobic engine - especially when the weather is bad, or when short on time for cycling, as you can get a good workout in a shorter time without having to head out for hours at a time.

Strength training on the other hand is essential from a muscular strength perspective, and something I'd suggest all cyclists add to their program.

The first reason I use S+C in cycling is to assist with injury prevention - strengthening the smaller muscles and those that support the cycling, to assist with the repetitive movements involved in riding. The second reason to focus on S+C, is to strengthen muscles that are used to build power, and strength that can then convert to cycling specific power, be that pedalling, or being able to hold the position on the bike easily, or to be more efficient in cycling specific movements and to give a sturdy base to push against when cycling.

Equally , as much as we need to train the other areas, there are a couple of things to consider  - mainly with running. Running is hard on the legs from a point of muscular fatigue - and very quickly can blunt the top end of cycling and reduce the power you can produce in cycling, especially if you suddenly add a lot of running volume. Trying to manage running alongside hard cycling sessions is very difficult, especially if you're new to running, as the recovery from running is so much more demanding due to the increased impact involved. Obviously alongside that, there's an increased injury risk , emphasised with a cycling background - due to the fact cycling is non weight bearing, the sudden change to a weight bearing activity is a large risk factor. As a result, running as a cross training for cyclists must be introduced gradually, and intensity should be kept to a minimum when cycling is the priority.

The main hindrance of swimming and s+c to the cycling improvements, are mainly limited to increased fatigue and recovery, and a reduction in possible training time  -so youve got to be really carefully as to how you balance the overall load in the program, even with a cycling focus.

Training for triathlon, or introducing a combination of s+c running/ swimming into your cycling training, can be done as highlighted above, but there's a few considerations to make sure you can optimise the training and maximise benefits.

The first being nutrition around sessions-  If there's an overall increase in training volume, then the increased caloric consumption must be taken into consideration. Equally you’ve got to make sure you’re recovering well and refuelling straight after the running especially, to limit the fatigue and muscular damage from sessions. If you're running any longer than an hour, id also recommend taking fuel during  the session to again reduce impact on the body - similar to how you would with a longer ride

I'd also suggest prioritising the cycling sessions, so schedule the other activities around the cycling, to complement, if thats your short term focus, but not to take anything away from the cycling. So if you're doing a heavier strength session, I'd try to not schedule it for the day before a hard ride, equally with a hard or long run, try to schedule a rest day after so you are ready the next time you want to ride. This is where having a coach which specialises in multisport (Such as a triathlon) can be beneficial as they can understand the demands of each sport and how they interact - even with the priority to be the riding.

The final aspect, which i've already touched on above, is recovery, and making sure you have adequate recovery from all sessions - but especially those that include an activity which is fairly new to you, or sessions that are exceptionally long, as they have the ability to negatively impact on your riding and overall performance in all 3 sports!


Hope that helps with some guidance on how to structure the winter, and still see some improvements on the bike - whether your goals are tri focused, or equally, just trying to mix up your cycling training!!




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