Okay, so I’ve only been doing spin for the past 2 weeks, probably a total of 6-8 classes but I already feel the difference with my running.
This morning I did a 4×800 meter workout on the treadmill and was seriously doubting I could even hold a 9:00/mile pace for a half mile. I surprised myself and felt great! I did them in 4:20 (8:40/mile pace), 4:15 (8:30/mile pace), 4:14 (8:28/mile pace) and 4:00 (8:00/mile pace). It was challenging but not THAT challenging.
When I had talked to the owner of the spin studio I am going to (Ride + Reflect in Bernardsville, NJ in case you’re curious), she was telling me how spinning can definitely help my running and aerobic capacity. It has helped many of her clients which are also skiiers.
As runners, we constantly read about cross training and how important it is or how great it is if you’re injured. I have been skeptical about it because in my mind, in order to get faster/better at running, I figured I should just try to run more. I’m still planning on increasing my miles this year BUT I really would like to also include spin classes into that routine.
I did some googling and found a lot of great facts about how spinning can make you faster and a better runner…let’s get into it:
Spinning is non-impact
Duh, right? Well the benefit here is that for those of us that can’t run twice a day for fear of injuries (I hate my shin problems), a spin class can be the second workout of the day that will help with cardio/aerobic endurance. As long as you’re properly situated on your bike, you should feel comfortable and no pain. I recently met a man who has had double knee surgery and is at spin everyday (and has no issues). Truly a great cross training option. If you still have your doubts, here’s what Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running has to say about it:
Physically, I got stronger than ever. I was doing more cardiovascular exercise than I had ever done with barely any extra injury risk. If you’re injury-prone, this is exactly how you improve your personal bests.
Spinning strengthens your legs
This is key for running, right? I can’t tell you how hard my first spin class was. My quads were on fire. I was so thankful it was only a 30 minute class because I was so done.
According to Breaking Muscle:
Spinning develops the leg muscles more than running, simply because it takes more muscle power to push a pedal through different levels of resistance than it does to move the leg through a running stride, although running uphill develops considerable leg strength, too.
Spinning can be a great recovery tool
I haven’t used a spin class as a recovery session yet, though the studio I go to does offer 30 minute gentle rides. Here’s a good excerpt from this article on Runner’s World:
Cycling can benefit runners for both recovery and training. It aids in recovery by flushing the legs out. A super-easy spin has no impact, and you’re moving blood through the muscles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, cycling can be great for building high-end aerobic training doing intervals.
Spinning can increase your cadence
You’ve probably heard that you should run around 180 steps per minute. My body naturally falls into that routine (and my brother always makes fun of me saying I take quick little steps lol), but if you need help with that, spinning can help. Throughout the class your moving your legs faster and faster – and you’ll even notice improvements in each class. I now do about 2 miles more than the first class I went to 2 weeks ago. By pedaling around 90 RPMs, you’ll mimic the 180 steps per minute, and it might feel more natural when you hit the roads.
As I said in the beginning, I still feel like more running = better running. I know many who disagree, and each runner is different, so to each his own. But I do think adding in spin classes (or cycling outdoors if you like that better) can build up your leg strength and aerobic capacity. I liked this last quote by Jason of Strength Running:
To be a good runner, you have to run a lot. Alternative training can help bridge the gap, especially for injury-prone runners, but you can’t plant potatoes and harvest carrots (I love that line!).
My goal for this year is train now through March for 5K, perhaps run a spring half, and then begin marathon training in June/July. I want to have a solid base by then and also ramp up my miles during marathon training. Last year was doing average of 30. During my last NYC Marathon training I peaked at 55 (seriously how??). So my goal for this time is to also peak around 50ish. We’ll see what happens!
Do you regularly take spin classes? If you don’t mind my asking, how many miles to you get in 45 minutes? I’m currently at 17!
What is your favorite form of cross training?
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