Vail Valley running: The training bond between bikers and runners |

Vail Valley running: The training bond between bikers and runners

Greg Decent
Vail, CO Colorado

While I was running today, I sensed something was missing from my routine.

I had my gels and water, and my shoes were tied properly to my comfort level. As I approached the halfway point during my run and began to turn around and head back home, I realized that, I had not seen one single person pass me on a bicycle.

Sometimes distance running can become lonely and after training all summer long you develop a kinship with the people you pass during your run. I’m used to the same group of guys I always pass in the afternoon when descending Big Horn Road as they are climbing, or the two poodles I always see when I run in the morning.

I do not know these people or dogs personally, but a simple “hi” or nod of the head is always enough. It is important to keep your fellow athletes in mind when training, especially to help you keep up with your training.

As a runner, I am always inspired by bicycle riders; their ability to descend hills at speeds fit for a car is truly amazing. Running and bicycle riding are more similar than you may realize. Both risk their lives every time they venture onto the side of the roadway. Both require a level of fitness, physical coordination and mental strength and work extremely hard to improve their speed.

While a runner focuses on foot speed and leg turn-over, a biker focuses on pedal speed and mechanical rotation. The physical coordination and mental strength required to remain in active balance is tremendous. Runners often trip over rocks and roots while trail running and mountain bicycle riders also experience the pitfalls of rocks and roots with blown tires or loss of traction.

When both athletes lose their mental focus and succumb to gravity the result is often face-plants and a good case of trail-rash. Everyone knows the hazards of their sport.

While the rate at which a runner and bicycle rider travel over a distance is heavily-favored for the bicycle rider because of mechanical advantage, both groups can enjoy the benefits of each others’ exercise. I often see the same people riding their bikes, and they see me simply running.

But to get the full benefits of cardiovascular training we should step out of our comfort zones. The idea of riding a bicycle instead of running as a workout makes me cringe, but I know that as I get older and my body gets tired of the pounding it will be important to incoporate other forms of roadside exercise.

Let’s just say that those people who do triathalons like Ironman might seem crazy, but they are definitely fitter than I or a road biker will ever hope to be. To all of the road bikers out there, running once or twice a week is probably going to be just as beneficial.

Cross training can prevent injuries and heighten endurance. If you do injure yourself, training in a different medium can help you maintain your fitness level. Your body can also do an “active recovery” from a long run or bike ride when you switch sports throughout the week.

So runners, dust off that bike in the garage. Bikers, borrow some running shoes and get out there. You might be surprised with how “unfit” you actually are.

Greg Decent writes a weekly running column for the Vail Daily.

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