Cycling and running are both key exercises enjoyed across the world, and no matter your sport, they both help to improve your training and performance. They can both be enjoyed outdoors and indoors, and each offers a different intensity of workout. Read our guide to see how running and cycling training differs.
Table of Contents:
When comparing cycling to running, there are obvious differences between the two exercises. In terms of efficiency of training, both cycling and running offer fairly similar metabolic benefits.
Cycling, whether completed on a road bike or indoor bike trainer, takes the load off your feet. With the help of the Wattbike Atom smart bike, you can work on your endurance, speed, and cadence without overloading your musculoskeletal system.
Running of course is completed on foot, and requires a phase where both feet are aerial and off the ground. Running can take on different paces, from the slower jog, to a faster sprint. Whatever the pace, whether running on a treadmill, track or road, this exercise method can have a harsh impact on your joints and muscles.
Cycling vs running, no matter which you pick for your preferred method of fitness, it’s important to know what each can offer. The benefits of cycling include:
Running can support your all-round fitness and help you stay healthy. Here are some core benefits of running:
If you’re using indoor cycling to improve your running, then there are multiple ways you can harness the benefits of a smart bike whether for cycling or running. Mixing up your running vs cycling routine can help keep your training plan fresh and keep you motivated to train.
Running and cycling both require different aspects of your training, and both will affect your fitness depending on the intensity of your workout. Shorter runs at a slower pace and shorter indoor bike workouts at lower wattage will both burn fewer calories than a longer run at a faster pace and a longer indoor ride at a higher cadence.
When you compare running and cycling for building muscle, they have some key differences. Running won’t offer much in terms of bulking, but will enable you to tone and strengthen your muscles.
Meanwhile cycling has the added addition of differing resistance which helps to build muscle, particularly in the legs. Resistance trainers which use air resistance can help you build leg muscle while cycling indoors. They allow you to have precise control on how much resistance is being applied to your muscles. The Wattbike Atom uses electromagnetic resistance controlled by gears, or in erg mode, which varies how much effort you need to put in, which can in turn help to increase your muscle gain.
Cycling and running both offer different paced challenges. With running, races can be short sprints or long distance endurance events, whilst cycling sportives vary in length from friendlier events to 100 mile sportives. Improving your cycling endurance on an indoor trainer means you can build up and maintain your stamina is easier when cycling than running, because it is lower impact.
Whilst cycling can support your fitness levels which will impact your stamina while running, cycling does not recreate the movement patterns required for running. This means improving your cycling speed won’t directly guarantee your ability to run faster. To improve your cycling sprinting, you’ll need to practise on your indoor bike, and to increase your sprinting on foot, you’ll need to practise sprinting in your running.
When you’re training for a running event or cycling sportive, the way you train will differ. While training for a running race can involve both running and indoor cycling, the best way to train for a sportive is on a bike, indoor or not. With the help of Wattbike, you can complete workouts for sportives and make sure you’re in the best shape when it counts.
Cycling can help you achieve your long distance running goals, as Wattbike ambassador and Under Armour athlete Emma Kirk-Odunubi found when training for the Manchester Marathon in 2023. Emma said: “I believe my training plan this year had everything to do with [...] the inclusion of my bike sessions. [...] I believe my success at the Manchester Marathon couldn’t have happened without the use of the Wattbike.”
At Wattbike, we’re committed to providing the very best indoor cycling experience.We’re the official supplier to the All Blacks and Black Ferns, to support their pre-season training through off-feet conditioning.