Cycling vs running from a body’s viewpoint

Preparing for the ironman, my training week now involves not only a long run, but a long bike and a long swim instead.  Anyone who’s a distance runner either looks forward to or dreads the long run… but whichever way it’s an important session that has to be fitted in, come what may.  So, as you can imagine, fitting in three long sessions every week can be tricky.

The long bike is now my major weekly session.  Cycling is my weakest discipline – and certainly the one I have least experience in, so it’s going to be my focus for the entire ironman build up.  The rationale is that if you’re strong on the bike part of the race (112 miles) you’ll be in good shape for the run (a marathon).  It makes sense that being a super strong runner means nothing if the bike element leaves you in pieces before the run even starts.

Long bikes at the moment for me are anything over four hours – or about 50 miles; although I’m now feeling that if I did ‘only’ 50 miles for a long bike it’s now not really enough, except in a recovery week.  The longest I’ve done is six hours which is what it took to do a 76 mile cyclosportive on 7th March.  I’ve done a couple of five-hour rides, too, so it’s all going in the right direction.

What’s interesting is how different I feel after a long bike to a long run.  Yes I feel tired all over – but in a pleasant, sleepy way rather than a completely drained, shattered way.  And, however much my legs ache during the ride, going up the hills, they never feel as tired afterwards as they do after a long run.

It’s all obvious really, I know, but it’s brought it home to me quite how much we hammer our legs – joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons – when we’re running.  It’s given me new respect for anything we can do to look after our legs and bodies after running, in particular.  So the ice baths (or even just cold ones!), stretching, massage, sleep and good food are just vital!

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