Have you ever thought taking spin classes could help your running performance?  I have taken spin class for the past 9 years and have been a huge fan since my first class.  I actually have been spinning longer than I’ve been running.

Of course spin class or biking outside can be a great cross training activity for those days that you don’t run but believe it or not spinning can actually help you with your running speed.  Some cases have proved it to improve 5k times by 3% and 10K times up to 9%!  That’s a pretty significant percentage in a shorter distance race.  Spinning and running are different because obviously running is very high impact but spinning is virtually impact free.  You get a killer cardio work out that almost duplicates running sprints and pushing high resistance builds strength in key areas of the legs used for running.

I attribute my ability to do as well as I do in races to my years of spinning.  I only started running in 2009 yet I am a competitor in my division in pretty much every local Orlando race.  I went in to training for my first race with my cardiovascular system in top shape because of my 5 years of spinning prior to running – I really only had to get my legs used to the soreness of long runs, the impact of running and figure out my pace when I first started running outside and training for my first race.  I even got my cardio system back fairly easily after taking a full year off from running after having my son.  I started out with spin classes to get my cardiovascular system strong then I trained for the 2011 Hot Chocolate 15K.  I am now faster than before pregnancy.

Spinning is pure interval training.  In a good class you are doing a variety of “drills”.  You climb hills, you sprint (always with resistance), you do longer faster paces or short bursts of speed with various levels of resistance and there are times where you’re pushing it as hard as you possibly can followed by a bit of recovery.  It mirrors running repeats and will increase your endurance as an athlete.  If you’re taking a good class from a knowledgeable instructor they will remind you to always keep a level of resistance on your bike.  Sprinting with too little or no resistance can take your safe no impact work out to a knee injuring work out and really you’re not doing anything if you don’t have resistance anyways.  A sure test to see if you have enough resistance is to make sure your butt doesn’t bounce in the saddle when you are riding fast; if it is you need to turn the resistance knob to the right!

Spinning also helps strengthen the muscles used in running.  Now, spinning is not meant to replace lifting weights but when you’re pushing resistance you are gaining strength without the impact.  As runners, our bodies need time to recover from pounding the pavement every time we run but with spinning you can get some of the same benefits without needing that impact recovery time.  I usually will take 2-3 spin classes or ride my spin bike at home during half or full marathon training.

Studies have also shown that there is a connection between pedal stroke cadence and foot cadence while running.  The more times your feet strike the ground the harder it is on your body and the more likely you are to get injured.  In a perfect world we would be working on trying to lengthen our stride so our feet strike the ground less but that is not always easy to do without a coach.  The more times you are able to get that pedal around is supposed to help you have a higher foot strike cadence making you less prone to injury.

I hope all the runners out there who haven’t yet tried a spin class will try one and see how it affects your running performance.  Personally, I think spinning has a lot to do with my speed and endurance as a runner.

XOXO The Glam Runner

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