Monday, April 1, 2013

Balancing weight-loss through cycling with the need for run fitness

I've been getting overwhelmed with the amount of fitness I need to do for the various activities I participate in and I can't seem to find a good way to consolidate workouts. For example, for refereeing, I need to work on my run endurance and speed but I much prefer to ride my bike than to run. And I also lose a lot more weight when I bike than when I run.

I've noticed that when I referee, I run out of gas towards the end of the game so I definitely need to work on that. So far I've been sticking to one run hill workout a week and biking the rest of the days, with a game of reffing thrown in there somewhere. It seems to be working well enough because I am faster and have more endurance than when I first began refereeing this winter/spring. But I have a long ways to go before I'm "match fit" as they call it.

To develop that match fitness, I need to run more and I've been thinking about adding another hill day and/or a long run/interval day. But I can't work out hard for more than 5-6 days a week because my body needs the rest so these runs cut down my number of biking days, which would suck because I really love to bike.

With that in mind, my biggest question is if cycling will have any sort of benefit for running, whether it's an increase in endurance or speed. Either one works for me. I haven't been able to find a straight answer so I guess I'm just going to have to experiment and see what happens.

Here is someone's post on a biking forum about his running and cycling:
And depending upon whether your running speed is limited by muscle-strength/efficiency or aerobic-capacity, cycling will help you in different ways.

For me, my legs never get tired on runs less than 10-miles at TT speeds (I played soccer for 15-years). However, getting faster running speed requires working on my aerobic system. Doing hill climbs and tempo workouts on the bike definitely helped my running speeds. :)

Also, I find that I can lose weight faster by riding my bike than by running. About 6-8lbs/month with cycling vs. 4-5 lbs/month with running. Lower weight helps in both running and cycling.

And another person's opinion:
I credit cycling with vastly improving my baserunning ability in softball, I went from someone who had to hit the ball well into the outfield to get on base to someone who can out run a slightly misplayed 5-3 infield hit. Made all the difference in bringing my average up to something close to respectable.

I'm not saying that training for sprinting wouldn't have acomplished the same thing, but it sure wouldn't have been as much fun.

I guess all this comes down to the question of, do I want to get fit for refereeing at the expense of losing weight? With running, I do lose weight but at a much slower pace than if I was biking, as the above poster mentioned. So I guess I have to decide what I want to focus on right now.

I think currently my priority is weight-loss and to do that I need to bike more. It seems that biking a lot will improve my aerobic fitness and in a roundabout way also give me more running endurance because of less weight on my body. Maybe once I reach my goal weight I'll focus more on running? We'll see.

So I think the solution is to do one run hill workout a week and one long run/interval training a week as well. If I have a game to referee then that can count as the long run/interval training day. The other three to four days of exercise will be biking, with hopefully one hill workout on that as well. I've found that I can't do more than 6 days of exercise in a week because my body can't handle it so that's going to be the breakdown for now.

This schedule looks good for now and the weeks when I follow this plan tend to make me happiest. I end up pretty tired, but it's manageable and actually somewhat enjoyable. Other variations either leave me drained or unhappy, neither of which is sustainable in the long run. So I'll stick with this for now and amend as I need.

By the way, I hate how I have to amend everything about my workout and food plans. I wish I could just stick to one thing that works instead of having to change it up all the time with changes in my weight and fitness level.

That's another reason I can't wait to hit maintenance in 50+ pounds...I won't have to worry about balancing weight-loss with fitness and will instead be able to work on the latter exclusively. Then again, by that point I'll want to add some significant strength training and figuring out how to do that most effectively will be another can of worms to sift through!

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