Runner or cyclist? Cyclist or runner?

Finding time for both in your life

I run, and I cycle. I cycle, and I run. Every week. Since I got too old to play football (too many injuries!), I’ve done both. Unlike football, they involve a much more predictable action, and you don’t have people trying to tackle you! Running or cycling, you can do both.

I’ve raced and developed in both (I think, I hope, even if I say so myself!). But the two aren’t equal all the time. I tend to treat one as my primary and sets goals accordingly. The other will be used as cross training, for now. Which is my primary sport depends on which I’m enjoying most, the company of the people I’m sharing it with group runs or rides, and which races or events catch my eye. And sometimes I can even be a bit fickle about it.

Be Consistent With Both Running and Cycling

Harvey Gallacher Cycling
Cycling gives your body a break from the high impact forces of running.

The one thing I have learned is that trying to do both to a suitable level at the same time tends to result in me being average at both. When I train well at one, I achieve my goals. Now that’s a rewarding experience and so can be self-perpetuating – positive feedback from running makes me feel good about my running and makes me want to run more. To offset that though, putting less pressure on myself to achieve in my other sport can make it fun and relaxed, rekindling my passion.

There are some great fitness reasons to do both. If you’re primarily a runner, cycling gives your body a break from the high impact forces of running, helps you actively recover, flushes the legs out and can reduce injury. I find that running can mash my thigh muscles (gluteus maximus) – my expression for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) of various kinds! Cycling uses muscles in your legs and core that complement the muscles used for running, making you stronger, more efficient, and maybe even faster

Fitting It All In Ain’t Easy!

Harvey Gallacher running
Remember to leave time for your family!

Scheduling a variety of different kinds of training in both sports over any given month is difficult, let alone making sure I have the time I want with my family, as well as earning a living! I don’t book in too many races, though I do run 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon and ultras each year. My running goal is usually one PB at each of those distances, each year. But the same rule applies as above – the more I try to cram in, the more average I seem to get.

I try to make my cycling easy either side of a hard or long run, and vice versa. It helps that I cycle commute in London and can run home from work if I choose to. And I team up with Park Run, Good Gym and Tribe to mix it up. It keeps me from getting bored with my own company and training plans, and gives me some healthy competition, usually from people a lot younger than me! Lots of websites out there will help you with scheduling your training, and it depends if you’re training with a specific event in mind. But, just for example, here’s what I did over the past two weeks:

3 x 35k cycle commute + 4 runs (16 miles marathon pace, 5 miles recovery, intervals, 3 miles easy)

3 x 35k cycle commute + 4 runs (6 miles fartlek, intervals, tempo, 12 miles trail)

Recovery, Recovery, Recovery

I can’t emphasise enough that you should prioritise your recovery – sleep and the right food is vital. I’m vegan so I use lots of real food, and I track what I eat to make sure I’m getting enough of everything. I’m an ambassador for Go Bites energy balls, which contain lots of the right, natural ingredients.

It’s possible to be an everyday runner and cyclist and achieve your goals. I’m still learning and figuring this stuff out so please get in touch. We’d love to hear your thoughts either via the comments below or on Twitter. You can also contact me directly on Twitter using #Runnerscave. Happy cycle-running/run-cycling!


About Harvey Gallagher 4 Articles
Father of five, not for profit chief executive, cyclist, 5k/10k/half/marathon/ultra runner, vegan, lover of music, nufc and black coffee.

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