Reid Between The Lines
HIT THE TRAILS... ON FOOT BICYCLING HAS A NEW COLUMNIST. HIS FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS? TO GET YOU OFF YOUR BIKE.
SA ex-pro James Reid comes aboard as our new columnist – and his first bit of advice is to get off your bike…
HHeartracing, lungs burning and legs on fire – but instead of crunching tyres and grinding gears, there’s consistent pounding on the ground. And a notable decrease in speed.
If a comparison between trail running and cycling doesn’t interest you, I urge you to reconsider before turning the page.
Some MTB superstars (Nino Schurter, Julian Absalon) run regularly to supplement their training. Having spent some time among both communities myself, I can tell you there are a lot of similarities: both have vibrant events industries, and participants share a similar appreciation for the outdoors, and seem to enjoy the idea of conquest in community.
But there are numerous questions: will running increase your cycling fitness? How much running should you do? As an ex-pro mountain biker, I decided to take up road and trail running this year; and comparing MTB and running raised even more questions.
Life continues to increase in pace, so running has obvious convenience and time advantages over cycling. From experience, 40 minutes of hard running can give you a workout comparable to a cross-country MTB race, especially on similar terrain.
Coming from cycling to running, the most notable change is a sharp and painful increase in calf and hamstring usage, as opposed to quadriceps. For me, injury was almost inevitable – my co- centric ‘push’ muscles were well conditioned, but the opposing eccentric (‘ brace’) muscles struggled. Yet the mind was keen.
ITB plagued me a while, to the point that to have a painfree run, I could run only up Table Mountain – I’d take the cable car down. Thankfully, after sorting out a niggling hamstring, I was free to explore.
Trail running isn’t cheap though, and the industry is growing. Recently, I completed the Merrell Whale of Trail, a 53km single- day running trail in the Potberg nature reserve. With an entry fee north of R2 500, it wasn’t entirely digestible on a student budget; but I was pleasantly surprised by the experience, reaching places inaccessible by bicycle.
With notably smaller numbers, trail running events are becoming what MTB events were 10 years ago – with the distinct appeal of exploration and escape that the bigger mountain-biking events are beginning to lose sight of.
Ultimately, there’s no replacement for cycling; but I firmly believe running has a place in any MTB training plan. The initial adjustment is tough, but with good shoes and a good attitude, the improvements are exponential.
There’s a seasonal appeal to running, too – for me, added winter layers smother the enjoyment of riding. Jogging with a light top in similar conditions is much easier.
And there’s the fresh mental diversion that running provides. Done correctly, it can add to your appreciation of bike riding in summer!
Some MTB superstars run regularly to supplement their training...
Retired pro James Reid is currently studying at UCT’s Graduate School of Business, and exploring cycling as a non- professional.