Sports training is a delicate balancing act between several opposing factors.

For example, specificity and health - while you need your training to be specific to your sport, being too specific all of the time can actually decrease your performance.

You also have high and low intensity training - you need high intensity training to improve your high end fitness but too much of it can lead to overtraining and injury.

For us as mountain bikers it is important to keep this balancing act in mind, especially when it comes to our cardio training. A lot of riders have too much specificity and high intensity training in their program and need something to help balance things out.

Enter our old friend running.

Running is something that most riders would really benefit from adding into their routine. In fact, a lot of you would benefit more from adding in a run rather than an extra ride or bike based cardio training like spin class or a road ride.

Why is this? What makes running so helpful for us as mountain bikers?

In this new edition of the BikeJames Podcast I go over why you should start running, plus some tips on how to get the most out of it and get started right. If you are looking for an edge in your cardio training, then be sure to check out this episode to see is running might be what you’ve been looking for.

Here are the notes from this episode:

- This podcast is about running and how it can help you become a better mountain biker.

- Running is probably one of the best types of cardio training you can do in addition to your riding.

- For most riders it would actually be better to add in a run each week rather than another ride or bike related cardio. If you are riding 2-3 times a week odds are you don’t need more on bike cardio.

- Running is an inherent human gift and when we lose it there are physical consequences.

- Easier to get a workout in (15-60 minutes of running vs. 1 - 4 hours of riding).

- It helps improve your posture and feel for standing pedaling.

- It uses a contra-lateral movement vs. the ipsa-lateral movement you use on the bike.

- It is a great way to introduce true low intensity training to your program.

- Important to build aerobic engine to improve your anaerobic power reserve/ be a fat optimized athlete. Hard to do this on the trail since MTB is a high tension sport (like an MMA fighter wanting to spar for cardio).

- You can get low intensity cardio through riding on the road as well but 1) you should still use your mountain bike and 2) you should know if your goal is “health” or “fitness”, in which case most riders should go for a run instead of spending more time on the bike.

- To keep running low intensity you need to either focus on your heart rate or use nasal breathing.

- Use the Maffetone formula of 180 - your age for heart rate.

- Only breathe through your nose (hold some water in your mouth to help enforce this).

- I recommend using minimalist running shoes like New Balance Minimus.

- Warning: Running takes some specific conditioning of the lower leg and feet so don’t overdo it.

- Start with walking, then half walk and half jog and then finally jogging the whole time.

- Start with 15 minutes and build up to 30 - 60 minutes, 1-3 times a week.

- Add in 3-5 sprints once a week to round things out.

- Sprints should be short (5-15 seconds) and you should focus on being smooth at 80%, not fast at 100%.

- Don’t Get Hurt! Be sure to warm up and do some practice sprints first.

- 1 Hard Ride, 2 Moderate Rides, 1-3 Easy Runs plus 1 sprint day is a good weekly cardio schedule for most riders.

- Adding in some running to your program can help improve your performance and overall health.

I hope you enjoy this podcast, let me know if you have any thoughts or questions on it in the comments below. Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

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