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The Sports Doctor: Adding cycling to training program

When cycling is part of your training program, you must build up your training sessions gradually by starting with a 30-minute period and then increasing a few minutes each day. A training period of 45 minutes is good with a proper warm-up and cool down period.

The cyclist must be careful not to overdo it, and to constantly check his pulse rate. The objective is to hold it above 120 beats per minute, but under 150. You'll find that you have a certain pulse rate at which you'll level off.

Cycling helps increase cardiovascular endurance by maintaining, or even increasing, oxygen capacity. It causes fewer traumas than running, especially involving knee injuries. It improves your ability to run uphill by increasing the oxidative capacity of the Vastus Lateralis muscle. As this muscle's oxidative capacity improves, it also improves its ability to do extended work. When leg speed increases in cycling through the technique of spinning, or pedaling rapidly in low gear, this in turn reduces the forces that muscles and joints must transmit to the pedals, which will reduce the wear, tear and fatigue on the body.

Cycling also helps to increase flexibility in the hip and knee joints by stretching the connective tissue, while the impact of running tends to tighten the connective tissue around the joints.

When you think about the jarring impact of the feet upon the pavement when running, a

force of about 375 pounds repeated approximately 1700 times per mile, cycling makes a

lot of sense.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss, a Sport Podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 & 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials.

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