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David Freeze: Gotta Run

Struggling to run after 40 days on a bike

It happens each summer when I go off riding a bike for several thousand miles. When I get back, running is so awkward. Tuesday morning was my first run since June 10, a total of 44 days. Over 39 of those days, I averaged 75 miles a day on a bike with a lot of challenging situations that totaled out at just under 3,000 miles. It was all cycling and usually just a little bit of walking near the end of the day.

Before leaving on the ride, my running was really good and averaged about 45-50 miles a week. Running was easy and strong on most days and it certainly has been my sport of choice for 35 plus years. Mentally I look forward to running after all that time. My bike ride finished on Friday afternoon in Green Bay, Wisconsin and today was my first attempt to run since that time.

Here is how it went. I was excited to get up and dressed for the road. Running out the driveway was hard, and I was out of gas before a quarter mile. My form was terrible, my balance was off and my breathing was labored. Nothing felt right. Mixing slow running and couple of walking breaks, the turnaround point of 1 ½ miles finally was reached. I walked a little bit, shaking my head, then vowed to run back home without stopping. I made it and felt some better, but the last half was downhill.

Why was it so hard? And why does my running fitness go away after 39 consecutive days of cycling? I asked the expert, Dr. Delaine Fowler, owner of Accelerate Therapy and Performance and herself a very good triathlete. She spends time on the bike and running, but hers is more of an equal mix.

Delaine said, “I know we think of biking and running as ‘just exercise.’ However, when an athlete is conditioned to a sport it takes special skill to run and bike well. It is a challenge to transition between the two without one taking a back seat.  Even professional triathletes have these issues. They will be significantly better at either the bike or the run. They push their strength and let their weakness suffer a bit in the hopes of improving their times. Second, running and biking use muscle groups in different ways. When muscles recruit differently for longer periods of time, they are then trained to those patterns and energy usage. So retraining your muscles to recruit the way you run takes time. Third, fitness adaption with running requires higher oxygen uptake than cycling since cycling is less dependent of body mass than running.  So even though you are well conditioned to bike, running will take more oxygen at the same energy output.”

Delaine recognizes the benefit of normal cycling, “I do recommend cross training for distance runners, adding in cycling 1-2 times per week for 1-2 hours.  As I transitioned to being a triathlete, I realized cycling has made me a significantly better runner.  However, my conditioning rides are much shorter than David’s with intermittent intensity levels built in to push toward my lactate threshold. David was trying to last through weeks of long days of riding with minimal recovery in between. His goal was to get to the next stop and had to last until then. In short, David trained himself out of runner shape and into distance cycling shape. Now he has to change his recruitment patterns back to being a runner.”

And then, the words I’m counting on, “But do not worry, over the course of a couple of weeks, you can recondition to running and be back on track.”

Many of you have seen already that the Post is holding a celebration of my recent bike ride at the main branch of the Rowan Public Library on Wednesday at 5 p.m. That’s August 2. It’s not Tuesday as I first said, but is definitely Wednesday. We will do a presentation on the ride at about 5:15 p.m. and then have plenty of time for questions and conversations. Come join us. Hopefully, my running will feel much better by then!

Look for more information at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org

 

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