No, not THAT kind of run. I'm talking about a standing flat on a Spin bike -- one of the only moves we do on a Spin bike that doesn't directly come from the road outside, and a move that is guaranteed to strengthen your core muscles (and thereby improving your riding form overall). If performed correctly, your core will not only feel stronger -- but you will actually be able to detect an observable change in core appearance, with proper training.
A guy in my class the other night remarked that I do a lot of long runs in my classes, which struck him as counter to the notion that the "best" cycling training comes from long seated climbs. The best cycling training DOES come from looooong, slow seated climbs ("LSD Training" - long, slow distance... endurance work, which I obviously do a lot of in my classes). But one is not going to derive the maximum benefits from cycling unless or she has perfect form -- and we will never have perfect form without core strength and stability. Have trouble keeping your hips from rocking/swaying on standing climbs? Have trouble stopping your body from bouncing during seated accelerations or sprints? Insufficient core strength. And when we do run, see yourself in the mirror bouncing up and down? Also, insufficient core strength.
That's where "running" comes in. Beyond the mere mental/physical break from monotonous climbing, running builds core strength. Long runs REALLY build core strength. As the legs get fatigued, the core muscles have to work even harder to maintain form. The same thing happens when we run really fast. And what happens when we build core strength? Our entire overall cycling form improves.
Except there's one problem. Many people do not run properly, with form ranging from moderately sloppy to HORRIFIC. I intervene when I see any horrific form distortions that will result in injury, but I usually let the moderately sloppy "go" without individualized corrections. I give general posture cues to the class, of course, in hopes that individuals hear my words and adjust their form accordingly. There are those, of course, who are frustratingly refractory to posture cues -- but what can you do?
My new ride, "Be It. Own It. Control It." is the hardest ride I've ever designed and choreographed. I've been thinking about it for months, and tinkering with various training principles to get it to flow the way I intended it. I'm really quite proud of how it turned out.
"Be It. Own It..." is designed to FORCE riders to perfect their running form.
What is the perfect running form?
1) HANDS: Hand Position 2 - hands lightly on the horizontal portion of the handlebar, shoulder width apart. (How I often describe it: "You're never ever ever ever going to take your hands off the handlebar in a Spinning class... but your touch should be so light that you feel like you could!")
2) ALIGNMENT: Lower body weight balanced directly over the pedals. Butt is up against the nose/tip of the saddle.
3) FEET: Feet are flat. Ball of your foot on center of the pedal (no pressure over the arches).
4) UPPER BODY: Shoulders down. Elbows square alongside your torso, elbows bent to point DOWN towards the floor. Chest broad and "open." Head looking straight ahead.
5) HIPS: Level. Not bouncing or twisting.
THAT'S a run. Thaaaaaat's what's going to work and tone those core muscles.
If you want specific critical feedback on your running form, come talk to me before class and I'll pay specific attention to your runs so as to be able to do so.
Here's to strong cores and toned hips!
*UPDATE* Psychological Effects of Heart Rate Monitor Use Study
12/21/2010: Preliminary results were reported at Indoor Cycle Instructor in October 2010. Manuscript in preparation. Once published, results will be made available on this site and at ICI.