Substituting running for cycling in a training plan

Hi folks,

Am on a two month training plan for a bike race end of September. But next week I won’t be able to use the bike for a whole 7 days. Any tips on how best to substitute running for cycling, any rules of thumb for matching intensity etc?

Cheers for any advice!

This depends a lot on how accustomed to running you are. If you’re like me and go to running only when you can’t bike (e.g. a few times a year), then I would go super easy on the runs, just to get “something” in (I used to run a lot). If, on the other hand, you run regularly, you should be able to try to match the intensity of your bikes, but beware of a sudden volume and intensity increases in running. If intensity goes up, you should probably adjust volume down. If volume goes up, you should probably adjust intensity down.

Note: this is based on my history and what’s worked for me. I’m not an exercise physiologist.


To add to what Simon said because the first consideration is as he mentioned, how accustomed to running you are, I would use heart rate and not necessarily duration when you’re running to compare to your cycling plan. If your plan calls for 1 hour of zone 2 riding then you should ensure your heart rate stays within that zone. It may mean that your run is exceptionally slow.

On the other hand you should also look at your training pattern and see if you could schedule next week as a rest week and only run 3 times in those seven days, again at low intensitiy. If it means your next week changes from a 2:1 to a 3:1 or from a 3:1 into a 4:1 the impact on your training will still be minimal.


Thanks, both. I only run a couple of times a month, the rest is cycling.

So maybe 1 hour slow steady run = 2 hour Zone 2 ride (even though keeping the cycling Zone 2 heart rate while running is nigh on impossible even while only breathing through the nose).

I have a couple of 30 min inspiration rides scheduled, at the lowest NM/AC/MAP/FTP values, so that’ll be an even slower, gentle 20 minute jog, maybe.

I also have Cadence Builds and Holds, and Recharger scheduled, no idea what to do with them… Maybe figure out a 30 minute intervals session.

And my scheduled full monty will get pushed back a week.

Heart rate is tricky as I find it quite different running, compared to on the bike…


Strides would be the rough equivalent of a cadence drill. From your easy aerobic pace, smoothly accelerate up to 5k/mile pace over 15-20 seconds… you’re running hard but not all out sprinting and always in good form. Settle back into your easy pace and recover for about a minute before doing the next one.

For a 30 minute run I’d start the strides after about 15 minutes and aim for 6-8 before having a final few minutes of easy run. You shouldn’t feel any more tired than a regular easy jog.

I’ve built up from a “couple jogs a month” to 3x weekly on top of bike riding. No structure to the running (that’s next) just easy jogs and 8-10 strides if I’m feeling alright. The main thing of course is to manage the extra stress of running as an impact activity. If there’s any soreness/stiffness that doesn’t ease after a few minutes of jogging, I’d take it as a sign to cut it shourt and just let the body rest (or do some low impact mobility/strength instead).


I like the ideas you’ve received already, and I have the same experience now and then when I travel for work.

The one thing I would offer is that I use a Garmin watch that gives training suggestions when there is nothing on my calendar. So, I’ll take the running suggestion for the days that I would normally ride and that typically keeps my fitness steady.

I also use to track my fitness to make sure I’m not over or under-training in those situations.


Something I found useful when I heard it on the scientific triathlon podcast, keep in mind that your cardiovascular system will adapt to anything quickly, your muscles will adapt slower, tendons slower still and bones slowest of all.
This applied to me in that I can increase my cycling volume pretty handily but I find that if I increase my running volume too aggressively my Achilles tendon, hip flexors, or IT band will start complaining since it’s more of an impact sport.


This is great - thank you! Looks like it’s worth me planning the sessions properly. Definitely considering the impact and soreness aspect and will keep the sessions shorter rather than longer and add plenty of time for stretching etc.

Yes, same here. I run in barefoot shoes which has the benefit of getting immediate feedback if I’m running badly, the complaints start at the soles, then rest of foot, then ankles, etc… so I get lots of early warning before problems at the knees or hips.

Having said that, as mentioned in another reply, will definitely dial down the training durations a lot.

Here’s my remapped training schedule, maybe it helps others with the same question:

Day: Original Cycling Plan → New Running Plan

Sat: Endurance 3 (3hr) → 20 minute gentle Z2 jog to get used to it again
Sun: Sub-Threshold with Surges (2hr) > 3 x 9 → 10km run at Z4
Mon: Veni Bici Sushi (25min) → 2 x yoga
Tue: Cadence Builds and Holds (45min) → Strides 30 mins, a la @tbronder
Wed: Veni Bici Sushi (30min) → 2 x yoga
Thu: rest day → 20 minute gentle Z2 jog
Fri: Recharger (30 min) → 5km run at Z3-Z4
Sat: Half Monty (1hr) → rest day (move the Half Monty to next week)

I remembered that I need longer to recover after running compared to cycling, hence the no-running days after the proper run sessions.

Happy to get thoughts, feedback, etc…

That looks good if a little aggressive, at least for me :slight_smile:

The only way I would know for sure is to plot it all in Intervals and see what my projected fitness chart looked like for the upcoming week, assuming I have my historical activities loaded into intervals as well. Just a thought…

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Couple things I thought of when reading

  • Talking of strides, take a look at the “Strides and Drills” workout in the Running section if you haven’t already, I find it a great session for improving form
  • Any chance you have access to a skipping rope? It’s lower impact than running but still helps build fitness while also giving a stimulus to the connective tissue in the legs that’s useful for running
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Great suggestions - thanks!

I’ve recently added Sysytm dynamic focus sessions to a little jogging adn outdoor cycling. Already doing yoga often but these sessions were a wake up call…

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Plan vs Reality

Sat: 20 minute gentle Z2 jog to get used to it again :white_check_mark:
Sun: 10km run at Z4 :white_check_mark: but at Z2
Mon: 2 x yoga :no_entry_sign:
Tue: Strides 30 mins, a la @tbronder :white_check_mark:
Wed: 2 x yoga :no_entry_sign:
Thu: 20 minute gentle Z2 jog :no_entry_sign: but did the Wahoo Strides and Drills workout as recommended by @dtjohnnyb
Fri: 5km run at Z3-Z4 :no_entry_sign: but did a 20 minute gentle Z2 jog instead
Sat: rest day :white_check_mark: but injured my foot yesterday

It was ok, but I put on weight, got a small injury that lasted a couple of days, and felt that overall I lost fitness and strength compared to my usual cycling routine. Next time will consider doing no running and just the Wahoo Fitness/Strength and Mobility, and prioritising yoga. And taking a skipping rope as @dtjohnnyb suggested.

Thanks all for your advice - love this community :orange_heart: :orange_heart: :orange_heart:

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