COVID 19 – Indoor Bike Sessions for runners

Indoor bike sessions are a great way to maintain running fitness throughout an injury or forced break from running or as a low impact activity to compliment your running training.

What you’ll need: Bike, Indoor Trainer, Towel, Drink bottle, Clip in shoes or Strap over foot.


FIRSTLY - Check the height of your seat is correct. To do this sit on the bike and place your heel on the pedal. Take the pedal to the bottom of the cycling stroke. At this point check to see how much your knee is bending. Your knee should be bent less 10 degrees. (Figure 1 bottom of the page). If your knee is bent more than this, it is an indicator that your seat is too low.


“If your knee is bent more than advised at the bottom of the cycle stroke its highly likely you will be overusing your quadriceps muscles and using your hamstrings and hip flexor muscles in a shortened position which can result in issues such as anterior, or ITB related knee pain and reduced hip range of motion upon return to running. As a runner its best to be in more of an upright position with minimal knee bend at the bottom of the pedal stroke as this is the closest position to running and will train the muscles most effectively for running.”


SECONDLY – Find the right gear. One of the biggest mistakes a runner can make when using the bike for cross training is to continuously push a really hard gear. Like having the wrong set up, pushing a really hard gear will just mean that the muscles in your legs are really fatigued, heavy and shortened increasing the likelihood of an injury when you return to running. A better approach is to find a gear that has some resistance but allows you to still spin your legs fast, one of the biggest benefits of cycling for runners is to help improve leg turnover.


THIRDLY – Increase your cycling gradually. Just like running, if you do too much too soon you will find yourself on the sidelines with a cycling related injury before you know it. Fortunately due to the low impact nature of cycling, you can progress quicker than a running program however I recommend doing a few easier rides of 30mins of less to familiarise yourself with the new activity and find a comfortable bike position prior to attempting harder interval style sessions.



Session 1 “Fast 30sec efforts”

· Total duration: 35mins

· Warm up: 20mins

· Session: 10x30sec hard/easy

· Warm down: 5mins

Purpose: This is an introductory session however don’t be fooled by the short intervals because the recoveries are also short. The short recoveries mean your heart rate never fully drops and therefore keeps gradually increasing across each interval. I find this session a winner because you feel as though you have had a great workout but could back up and do it again the next day.


Session 2 “Progression Ride”

· Total duration: 50mins

· Warm up: 10mins

· Session: 6x5min segments – progressively increasing resistance

· Warm down: 10mins

Purpose: This session really helps to build aerobic strength. The goal is to maintain the same cadence after increasing the resistance. This session starts out easy but quickly catches up with you by the end! Be careful when you choose to do this session as it may leave your legs a little heavy.


Session 3 “Pyramid Intervals”

· Total Duration: 60mins

· Warm up: 15mins

· Session: 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 all with 1min recoveries (33mins)

· Warm down: 12mins

Purpose: This session is the equivalent of a VO2 style track workout. Use the earlier shorter intervals to get comfortable riding faster and then maintain through the longer reps in the middle before really bringing it home.


Session 4 “kick downs”

· Total Duration: 40mins

· Warm up: 10mins

· Session: 10x, 1min easy

· Warm down: 10mins

Purpose: This one is a mental game. By learning the ability to go harder when you’re already going hard you will unlock new potential on the running track. The indoor bike provides the safety to really let loose without injuring yourself by losing form such as on the running track. However try and focus on kicking down without losing form, try not to rock from side the side on the saddle.


Session 5 “Combination”

· Total Duration: 60mins

· Warm up: 15mins

· Session: 2x(5mins tempo/2.5mins easy) + (10x30sec hard/easy) + (10x15sec hard/easy) = 30mins

· Warm down: 15mins

Purpose: Use the tempo efforts at the start to build up some fatigue in the legs, try a slightly higher resistance. For the shorter efforts focus on high cadence while under fatigue.


Session 6 “Lung Buster”

· Total Duration: 47.5mins

· Warm up: 15mins

· Session: 10x45sec/15sec (hard/easy), 10x30sec/15sec (hard/easy), 10x15sec/15sec (hard/easy) = 22.5mins

· Warm down: 10mins

Purpose: Throw it down! With such short recoveries if you’re going hard enough on the efforts don’t be alarmed if you can’t feel your legs and your throat is burning after this one…neither are symptoms of COVID just a hard bike workout. Stand up out of the saddle for the first 5secs of each interval to really push down some power and then hold it for the rest of the interval.


I hope you enjoy these sessions and stay fit, healthy and sane through this short but intense lockdown.


Let me know how it goes via strava or instagram:







Figure 1: Correct knee bend for runners