PT on the Net Research

Cycling vs. Running Cardio Response


Is there any available research on the equivalence in both duration and intensity for cycling vs. running workouts. For example, if I am training a cyclist who is interested in cross training with running, how should I modify his HR zones and or duration to get the same training effect?


The conventional wisdom seems to indicate that crossing from the bike to a run, you need to half the distance to achieve the same result. Training heart rate should be the same as on the bike. It will probably be easier to get an elevation in heart rate due to the specificity factor. But the real question is, why does he want to run if he is a cyclist?

If your client is looking to convert to triathlons or other multi events, then running is needed. If he is looking for some training time off the bike, then maybe the pool would be a good break for recovery. Remember, specificity is the name of the game in sports application. The only time a cyclist runs is to the bathroom before a race. Other than that, pedal.

Now, there are the mountain bikers and cyclocrossers that have a dose of running within their events. Most of the people I deal with in this area do primarily interval training for run workouts. We keep the distance low and intensity up with short durations of 30 to 60 seconds, 1:1 – 1:2 work: rest ratios. It seems effective and improves their run speed – which is what you need in this arena.

Heart rates are heart rates. The only difference I can see is your client’s comfort. Your client has been cycling, so he is used to cycling loads. Running loads are different and will create more stress on his cardiovascular system, so his heart rate will be accelerated compared to the ability to accomplish work.

Start your client slow and “listen” to what he is telling you on the PRE scale.

Good luck!