Aerobic endurance plays a key role in many sports and this is also true for riding. Long distance training at a comfortable pace is the most common approach, it involves running/cycling/rowing for typically longer than 30 minutes (at approximately 70% of VO2max*). Whilst I do not dispute that with this approach you will enhance your ability to clear lactate and change your muscle fibre type characteristics over time (Type IIx fibers to Type I fibers), is this really the best approach?
Let’s forget that excessive long distance training such as jogging reduces strength and power and increases oxidative stress, inflammation and injury. The real question is, is jogging ideal in a society that spends too much time sitting, whether that be at your desk, in your car, during lessons, on the sofa and least not forget when you ride? This love for seated posture allows your quadriceps and hip flexors to be fixated in a flexed position whilst your glutes and trunk/core muscles do relatively little. Jogging is quadicep dominant, studies have shown that when a quadriceps-to-hamstring imbalance occurs, chances of hamstring and knee injuries increase. Furthermore, when running at slow speeds glute recruitment is comparatively low when compared to faster speeds. An over development of the quadriceps (and the potential negative role your ITB and TFL play) whilst negating glute, trunk/core and hamstring strength and stability could be an unwise choice.
During running you experience 1.2-3.5 times your body weight in force during the impact when the foot hits the floor (for me that’s the equivalent of 114-330kg, I’m glad running is not really my thing!), so the combination of high running volume, high impact forces and poor ankle flexibility (don’t get me started on riding boots) could raise the question should riders run? Does your running technique look like the picture below? Think twice before you go for your next run!
*VO2MAX : Maximum amount of oxygen that can be used
Key take home messages
- Excessive jogging can lead to reduced strength, power and increase your risk of injury.
- If you do run be sure to include strength exercises focusing on your glutes, hamstrings and trunk/core strength.