6 Feb

Spin Me Round

“I’m spinning around, move out of my way,” sang Kylie Minogue in reference to her newfound spinning addiction. Well, that’s one interpretation. If you’re a member of a gym, you’ve probably walked past a room full of people furiously pedalling on exercise bikes while an instructor barks orders at them. Sound appealing? OK maybe not, but as a runner, it’s certainly worthwhile. 

What is spinning?

A group indoor cycling class, concentrating on strength, speed and endurance. It’s essentially interval training. The high intensity cardio workout will see you ramp up the resistance to emulate hill climbs, and pedal at your fastest for sprints. Instructors can vary from army general types to more gentle characters. It just depends what you prefer.

Why is it good for runners?

It’s mainly about the lower body (though your arms and back will also get a workout) as spinning increases endurance in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors calves, and the muscles around your ankles. You burn around 400-600 calories in a 45-minute spin class, so it can help you stay lean, which in turn will lead to faster running times. This helps with running efficiency. It’s also claimed there’s a correlation between pedal stroke cadence and running strike cadence. If you develop a high pedal stroke cadence in spin class, this will lead to a higher foot strike cadence when running. Or so the theory goes. Always fancied Chris Hoyesque thighs? Then spinning is for you. Pushing a pedal through resistance requires more muscle than your leg going through a running stride. This is particularly beneficial for running uphill. It’s also low impact so you don’t have to worry about damaging your joints but it’s important to do a warm-up before you go full pelt, as well as performing a cool-down at the event of the workout.

How often should I do it?

Two or three times a week is advised. It works both as a way to complement your running routine and/or for runners recovering from injury.

Where can I do it?

Just about every sports centre offers spin classes these days. Visit your local centre to find out.

Any tips?

Your saddle should be the same height as the top of your hipbone. The handlebars should be in line with your saddle height or higher. Do all this and your PB will be in line with Mo Farah’s (well, maybe not quite). So what are you waiting for? On your bike...