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simulating a tempo run on a stationary bike (Read 107 times)

maplemountain


Hill Fiend

    On the road/trail/track, my paces are easy for me to feel and define. From the slowest recovery jog, to the tempo run, and the 5k race pace to the Usain-Bolt-is-chasing-me-with-an-axe pace, I feel confident I'm hitting the right one. But when I need to cross train on the bike I run into trouble (or pedal into it, I guess). It seems I have two modes on the bike. 1: low RPM and low resistance, just warming up or cooling down, easy.   2: high RPM, high resistance, this is simulating sprinting up a hill.  I can't seem to narrow down my in betweens, and it's really frustrating me. I'd like to be able to do tempo runs on the bike when I need to. Either to give my legs a low-impact day, or because there's lightning, ice, flooding, or some other weather issue keeping me indoors. Does anyone have any advice on this? It's been about three years since getting the bike and experimenting with RPM and resistance levels. I know people swear by the heart rate method, but that's notoriously inaccurate. Sometimes I'm pedaling at 115 RPM on high resistance and it says my heart rate is in 65% Warm-up zone. Other times I've just hopped on the bike and pressed start and it claims my heart rate is at Max - Danger Zone. The sensors are clearly not accurate. Also, I worry that if I put the resistance too high I'm using fast-twitch muscles, like a sprint/hill workout or weightlifting. This would require a rest/recovery day after. A tempo run would not do that. On top of that, I'm curious if anyone has advice about RPM. Are there targets that correlate to certain running paces? Is a slower RPM going to harm my muscle memory? Should I prioritize RPM over resistance or the other way around?

     

    Any articles or advice appreciated. Whenever I search the topic, all I can find are articles saying "Biking is great for runners!' I can't seem to find any guidelines for adapting my run to the bike.

     

    Thanks!

    • Find a mountain
    • Run up it
    • Enjoy the view
    paul2432


      I think using perceived effort is your best bet for dialing in a tempo pace on the bike.  You state two modes, low resistance, low RPM or high resistance, high RPM.  I suggest medium resistance, high RPM for your tempo workouts.  It may take some experimenting to dial it in.  If your bike has a power indicator (watts) that may also be useful in dialing it in.

       

      Ideally your cycling cadence should be similar to your running cadence - probably around 80-95 RPM depending on effort level (higher cadence for more intense effort).

       

      What kind of HRM are you using?  You may be able to improve the accuracy either by adjusting what you have or using a different type of monitor.

       

      "I'd like to be able to do tempo runs on the bike when I need to"

       

      Finally, regarding the above, you cannot do a tempo run on a bike.  If you need to run inside, a treadmill is a far superior option to a bike for running training.  If you don't have access to a TM, then do an easy day on the bike indoors and do your tempo run outside on a different day.

      maplemountain


      Hill Fiend

        Thanks for the useful advice. It sounds like you're saying to increase my RPM but not let resistance get too high, in order to raise my perceived effort to that of a tempo run, right? That makes sense.

         

        My bike does have the wattage indicator. I've never really paid attention to it. I should start noting what it says at various points and how I feel during that session.

         

        As for the heart rate monitor: I'm not using a wearable. The bike has sensors in the handles. They're stupid. I ignore them at this point.

         

        Regarding your final statement, I do think there has to be a way to get my heart rate up in a low impact way. Having every indoor day be an easy day would have wiped out some whole winters over the years. I do some HIIT and weightlifting on many indoor days, but I got the bike to make sure that I have another option. Sometimes I would do a hill workout and then the next day I couldn't be outside. In that example, having the bike day be an easy/recovery day is perfect. It makes sense. But when the days stretch on for weeks I start to really need to have multiple workout options available. So, the HIIT and the bike are the hard day and easy day extremes. I really need to add a medium type day to my indoor options. Being able to simulate a tempo run would be perfect. Also, now that it's springtime, I'd like to bounce my tempo runs indoors for two reasons. 1. I love doing my long slow run outside in warm weather.  I love doing my track/hill work outside in warm weather. I need a low impact day to go easy on my legs, so tempo makes sense to bounce indoors. 2. Stopping to cross the street during a long slow run is no big deal. Track/hill work are isolated from cars. Tempo runs are a bitch when I have to stop at lots of street crossings. It's not really tempo if you've stopped 15 times in 10 min. Trails are too muddy where I live for a few months, so this is a March-April-May problem.

         

        There's no rule that says I can't do an 8 to 20 min slightly harder effort on the bike. I was just struggling to figure out what resistance/RPM would be just right (not too hard, not too easy). Sometimes I push that resistance too high, and then I need a recovery day from the bike, which feels wrong somehow.

         

         

        You've given me some useful stuff to think about.

         

        Thanks!

        • Find a mountain
        • Run up it
        • Enjoy the view
        kilkee


        runktrun

           

          Ideally your cycling cadence should be similar to your running cadence - probably around 80-95 RPM depending on effort level (higher cadence for more intense effort).

           

           

          I suggest following the RPMs first, and then experimenting with resistance at a certain RPM.  If you don't have good historical information about your HR during different types of run workouts, then I wouldn't bother trying to follow that protocol.

           

          e.g.: my easy run cadence is spot on 180 spm, so my easy bike substitute will be around 90 rpms, and i'll crank up the resistance just enough to feel like my legs are working a bit, and I will bike for about 125% of my planned run duration (60min run turns into 75min ride).  My tempo cadence is 185-190, so I'll try to hit 95 rpms at a slightly higher resistance, but not so hard that my quads are burning.  You should feel tired but not wasted after 20-40mins of tempo "effort."

           

          These workouts will simulate aerobic work, but will NOT help you with run-specific fitness.  Just because you can ride 60mins at 95 rpms and a high HR does NOT mean you can immediately go out and crush a tempo run.

          Not running for my health, but in spite of it.

          maplemountain


          Hill Fiend

            Thanks for your advice. Especially the 125% of duration. I've always struggled with how long I should be on the bike. Obviously 30 minutes on the stationary bike is not the same effort as 30 minutes of running. Sometimes I go too short on the bike, and other times I overcompensate and go too long. So I'll think about 125% and see how that goes. The consensus here seems to be to prioritize RPM. I have been upping the resistance and allowing my cadence to slip so that I don't over do the effort. I will swap those and take better notes of everything so I can track outcomes and progress. Thanks!

            • Find a mountain
            • Run up it
            • Enjoy the view


            delicate flower

              I'm a triathlete and do two hard bike workouts a week.  I'm probably in the minority but I don't pay too much attention to my RPM.  It stays in the 80-90 range, since that is how all of my outdoor pedaling is, steep hills aside.  My efforts are measured by a power meter and adjusted via my gearing.  When I need to ramp up the power, I shift up.  When I am in easy or recovery mode, I shift down.  I find it hard to generate any real power with a lower gear and high RPM.  Your hard efforts should vary anywhere from 60 seconds to 20 minutes, depending on what your workout is, just like with your tempo runs. The shorter the interval, the higher the resistance.  For example, a five minute interval should be a little tiring but doable.  Get to the end of your 8th five minute interval and your legs should be about ready to die.

               

              Hard bike workouts are a great way to complement your runs.  I honestly feel that I am a faster runner now because of them, and the fact that they save some wear and tear on my legs.  I am right around top 30% on the bike in my tris.  Now I could just learn how to swim fast....

              <3