Reid Be­tween The Lines


Bicycling (South Africa) - - INSIDE - BY JAMES REID

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.

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