01-11-2016

Does Spinning Make You Faster?

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:

Does spinning make you faster? Here are a few ways how it can! | reach-yourpeak.com

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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05-05-2015

5 Ways Spinning Can Help Your Running

I recently bought a Groupon for a spin studio in my area and really enjoyed it. It is super challenging for me, and each workout I never think I will make it the full hour. Before I signed up, I had been doing research on ways spinning can help your running. I wanted to learn more about the benefits and how it would translate to stronger running. Turns out there are many ways it does! 

5 Ways Spinning Can Make You A Better Runner

Builds both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance.

A spin class is a mix of easy portions and challenging portions. You might have a series of hill climbs, flat sprints and recovery sections. Because of this, spinning works both your fast-twitch muscles and slow-twitch muscles. Fast-twitch muscles are used during speed or hill intervals, and slow-twitch muscles are more endurance based (which will obviously help if you’re training for a marathon). No matter what distance you’re training for, spinning can help you get stronger and faster.

Non-impact.

We all know spinning is a great form of cross training for runners. It’s a similar movement as running, and obviously works your lower body. If you’re injured or just want something more low impact on a certain day, spinning is the day to go. When I couldn’t run for 3 weeks before the NYC Marathon in 2013, I did all of my “workouts” on the spin bike, and even completed “track” workouts on there too. I would suggest mixing up your cycling workout with seated and standing intervals in order to work different muscles.

Helps with cadence.

You’ve heard how you’re supposed to run at 180 steps per minute, right? Well, apparently, spinning can help imrove your cadence and increase turnover. A higher cadence on the bike translates to a higher running cadence. I believe it, because in my spin classes recently we’d be biking at 80-90 RPMs and it was killer! Apparently that translates to around a 7-8 minute mile. So the premise here then is that if you go to spin classes and are consistently in that higher range, it might help your speed and turnover (feet moving faster) which is obviously key in a big race!

You have control.

Since you’re indoors, you don’t have to worry about cars or other road safety hazards. You can fully immerse yourself in your workout. Also, you can give it 100% for the same reason. You can go all out in a sprinting portion without worrying about flying off the handlebars or crashing. On the flip side, you can control your resistance, and make the workout as challenging as you want it to be. I love being able to control resistance, especially on hill climbs, because if I were riding outside I would definitely be the person walking their bike up a hill :)

Increase your weekly miles.

If you’re like me and trying to increase your weekly miles, spinning might be the way to go. If you’re already running most days of the week, doing a morning or evenining spin class is a great way to add in more “miles” without the pounding of a second run of the day. It obviously counts as cross-training, and you’re getting the cardiovascular benefit which will help in your running. This is also a great option for those who are more injury prone as they add more weekly miles. I know plenty of runners who do count cross-training as miles (i.e. – a 60 minute spin class is equivalent to about 6 miles). 

I really do enjoy spin class, but like I said in my post yesterday, I need to work on balance as I get into my marathon training. I want to be able to at least do a spin class or yoga class once a week, which might require two workouts in one day…we’ll see.

Do you take spin classes? If you run most days of the week, how do you balance it with your training?

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06-23-2014

Benefits Of Not Training For A Big Race

I’ve been loving not having any races to train for. It has given me the freedom to run when I want, and skip a run when I want. The days I’m not feeling a run, I’m okay with doing something else. In fact, I’ve been wanting to do other workouts since when I AM training for something, it’s hard to get other types of workouts in.

So what have I been doing?

Well, last week I went to play tennis with my sister and I remembered how much I really like it. My parents used to send me to tennis lessons as a kid and I hated it. Now, I wish I had kept up with it…who knows maybe I actually would have been good at tennis :)

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Side note: I always wonder, what if there is something I’m really good at but will never know. Like what if I could go to the Olympics for snowboarding or swimming or something? The world will never know…

Anyway, I’ve also gotten back into spinning. I have taken a few classes with a friend, but also make up my own workouts at the gym.

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The above picture was from a combo spin + yoga class at Ride + Reflect in Bernardsville, NJ. 45 minutes of spin, 45 minutes of yoga. Loved it!

Here’s my spin playlist I used for my own spin workout that I did yesterday, if you’re interested:

I used to hate spin but actually really like it now. I am on the hunt for an inexpensive bike so I can start riding outside. I’ve written about how I want to do a sprint triathlon later this summer (possibly), so I need a bike for that! I have a mountain bike, but not sure if I can use that?

I’ve also enjoyed going to the gym and getting back into lifting. I’m not following any set plan right now, but have liked doing more interval type workouts using weights. My sister and I did a tough one yesterday, which I will actually share on my YouTube channel later this week – so stay tuned!

Here we are after the workout:

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 But I can’t forget about running. I do miss it sometimes, and the other day I just felt the urge to go for a run, even after an hour of lifting. I decided not to wear a watch or anything, and just go with the flow. I ran 2.6 miles and felt amazing despite the heat.

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I love those runs where you just feel like you can run forever. I could have kept going but dinner was waiting and it was already 8 pm and I was hungry :)

I think my mom and I will be doing a half marathon in September or October, and we’d also like to do the Philly Half. We are considering doing a spring full marathon but I don’t know how I feel about training in the winter time! I have only done it once for a May half marathon, and it wasn’t bad…but I do prefer training in the summer. We’ll see!

What types of workouts do you do when you’re not running?

Have you done a spring full marathon? Which one? How’d you adjust to running in the winter?

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