Skip to main content

Caleb Ewan's Sprint Position - Revealed through Kinesiology

Is Running Hurting Your Cycling Performance?

As a runner for most of my life, only transitioning to dedicated cycling for the past few years, I hate to admit that running is the last form of cross training that a dedicated, competitive cyclists should consider.  The reason: Inflexibility.

Although the high impact nature of running helps to improve bone density, the adaptations the body goes through can hurt your cycling performance.  The more you run, the better you get because the muscles, tendons and ligaments develop elasticity to conserve energy.  Rather than relying entirely on energy sources to produce a muscular contraction, elastically stored energy within the muscle doesn't require energy consumption, so you save considerably more energy which allows you to run faster for longer.  However, when the muscles and tendon adapt this way, it comes at a major sacrifice: range of motion.  Every muscle used in running will become more inflexible and "spring-like" in order to handle the high impact demands of running.  This is bad news for the dedicated, competitive cyclist because aerodynamics is extremely important to riding fast.

Compared to long distance running, sprinting uses full range of motion and may help to reduce tightness at the muscles, tendons and ligaments.  Doing intervals of sprint efforts and speed walking is a great way to gain bone density and avoid developing tightness at the hip, knee and ankle.  During the walk interval you'll also have the added benefit of being able to feel how the body responds to each sprint bout and get a better estimate of how much your body can handle.

Triathletes have a completely different goal compared to a competitive cyclist.  They simply can't sacrifice running efficiency for faster cycling.  Studies conclusively find that by increasing hamstring range of motion through stretching, it negatively affects running performance.  This makes sense because if any of the primary muscles are lengthened, it will lose elasticity and cause them to consume more energy.  This begs the next question:

How do triathletes get aero if they aren't supposed to maximize their flexibility?  Answer: Short crank arm lengths.  Short crank arms require drastically less range of motion at the hip, knee and ankle, so they can achieve an aerodynamic position without being greatly affected by musculotendinous tightness.  Although this also comes at the cost of terrible sprinting and accelerating power, short crank arms sacrifice nothing when it comes to steady state power.  Since triathletes are mainly concerned about their steady state performance, being at the shorter end of crank length is a win-win situation.  Dedicated, competitive cyclists have to be flexible enough to push a longer crank efficiently because they can't sacrifice attack and sprinting performance, although this applies mainly to fast group rides, criteriums and single day road races.

The best option for the dedicated, competitive cyclist is anything low impact that uses the primary muscles of cycling in a different way.  This will prevent the muscles, tendons and ligaments from developing tightness, and make your return to the bike a lot more efficient and enjoyable.  Here are a few examples:
  • Swimming
  • Stair stepping
  • Weight lifting strength circuits*
    • This is an important workout to include for improving/ maintaining bone density during the on and off season.
  • Speed walking
  • Erg or Rowing machine
  • Elliptical


Popular posts from this blog

Kinesiological Approach To Bike Fit: Cleat Position

CLEAT POSITION:  There are four types of adjustments which can be made to a cleat.
Fore/ Aft:  FORE:  Positioning the cleat forward allows the ankle to move more freely, allowing for a smoother pedal stroke.  The trade-off is that this requires more ankle stability, calf strength and puts the rider at risk of developing quad dominance.AFT:  This position limits ankle motion.  This provides added stability to the ankle, allowing the calves to rest, but makes the rider prone to bouncy pedal strokes.  When switching from a forward cleat position to a rearward position, a lower saddle position is needed to compensate for decreased plantarflexion.Lateral/ Medial:  The goal is to spread weight evenly across the foot side-to-side.LATERAL:  Shifts weight towards the outside of the foot (small toe side).MEDIAL:  Shifts more weight onto the medial side of the foot (big toe side).  Limits the maximum amount of external rotation available before the heel strikes the crank arm.Rotation:EXTERNAL:  S…

How To Hold an Aero Position

There are climbs and then there are winds.  For many cyclists, riding into a strong wind can be more difficult than climbing, mostly because cyclists are required to reach a low aerodynamic position which can be uncomfortable, difficult or painful to hold.  Cyclists must demonstrate adequatehamstringandlower backflexibility to hold an aero position comfortably.  The flexibility needed to ride well in the wind can take time to develop, but with enough dedication and experience, anyone can become proficient at holding an aero position safely.  Here are some steps you can take to make holding an aero posture as comfortable as being on the hoods:

The worst thing a rider could do is force a low aero position and hope for the best.  With low back pain being one of the most frequent complaints among pros and recreational cyclist alike, the chances of long term pain- or injury-free riding are slim.  Develop the flexibility first, then shoot for the next lowest position yo…

Eagle Creek Park Cycling Grand Prix v2.0 - FIRST PLACE & FIRST PODIUM FINISH!

I can't even begin to describe how awesome it felt to have two dreams come true at once!  I always wondered what it would be like to be on the podium, but I never thought I had a chance at first place!

THE COURSE Below is a map of the course highlighted in blue.  It ran counterclockwise.  There were a few corners that stuck out to me.
Bottom right (corner #1):  This wasn't a very sharp corner, but the trees and brush made it difficult to see around it, so the group had a tendency to slow down and merge into a single line here.
Top right (corner #2):  This corner was very sharp, so oftentimes the group would merge into one or two pacelines, especially at higher speeds.
Top left (corner #3):  The inside half of this corner was covered by loose asphalt, so it wasn't an ideal or safe place to pass.  Pretty much everyone had to take a very awkward, wide line.  We could only fit about three abreast in this corner.
Bottom left (corner #4):  This was a very fast corner that led straigh…