The best distance cross training is...

Hey guys and gals,

Just thought i would write something up about my training for distance riding which has really helped me improve my cadence, hill climbing and overall fitness.

My university holds an inter-college sporting event each year called inward bound. It is a team long distance running and orienteering event, and the biggest sporting event of the year. Teams of 4 from each competing college get dropped in the wilderness (having been blindfolded and driven around for a few hours), they then have to find out where they are and make their way to the endpoint. First team from each division (7 divisions and drop points)across the line wins. The college with the most points from all divisions wins the overall competition.

I competed in the even last year and went well, our team won the 65km division by half an hour. Traning for this year for me has been split between distance riding and distance running. I usually run 3 times a week about 10- 15km runs with the odd longer one thrown in. I also try to get out on my uni on the days where i don’t run and do a 25km loop around the lake here.

Since i’ve been running my time for doing my unicycle loop has been cut by a massive 20 mins. Also the hills that used to have me sweating and panting like a fat man with a burger are now so easy i am overtaking cyclists on them. It also works the other way round as well- my hill climbing style when running is a little different (smaller steps but faster foot speed). I think i can put this down to the muscle development that has been achieved by using short cranks (125’s) for lots of climbing.

I have found that running gives you the potential to push your body further more easily (ie higher sustained heart rates on hill climbs), then by riding distance uni. It is when you combine a running fitness with a unicycle that i have been able to improve considerably.

Does anyone else have tips for cross training for distance or things they want to add? Might make an interesting read for those who are seriously keen to own RTL this year.


I’ll second that. I came into the sport of unicycling from a long distance running background. I’ve been a runner for over half my life and so it made long distance cross-country unicycling rides much easier (once I mastered the skills needed). What I didn’t expect was the reverse was true as well, time spent doing trials and offroad unicycling has helped my overall sense of balance and really sharpened my technical trail running ability and maintained my leg speed w/o having to do speed work.

Absolutely. I run ultramarathons, and so I had the endurance bit down, and picked up a 36" wheel this Winter to keep in shape while the weather discouraged me from running. I’ve been unicycling since my youth, and could probably talk a bit about how it helped my aerobic fitness and ability to run then.

Well, as I hoped I was very inspired to ride throughout the Winter, but to the almost full exclusion of running. I quickly and easily worked my way up to marathon distances in my rides, and regularly commuted the 25-30K total round-trip distance to work and back by unicycle. But unfortunately, when my first ultramarathon of the year came at the end of February I hadn’t gone on a run of more than 15-20K since December.

No fear, I had maintained cardiovascular fitness and the appropriate major muscle groups were trained from unicycling (not to mention the balance and core strength for running trails) and I set a PR in both time and ranking for the distance. My feet were a bit sore, since they had softened up a bit with the lack of pounding over the Winter, but I’ve added running in my Vibram FiveFingers to my routine to keep my feet strong while I cross train.

Since that race, I have also taken part in a 100K cycling event on my uni and finished within the time allotted for those who still ride with training wheels.

Alas, the unicycle has done its job and I do need to focus more on running to be ready for my longer races coming up. But I’ve also included more cycling events to ride my uni long distances this year, including a century ride in May.

So, yes. I found that being a fit endurance runner led almost immediately to an ability to perform well in endurance unicycle rides, and that endurance unicycle riding proved effective cross training for endurance running. They are a great cross-training pair of activities. Just don’t let your feet get soft.

Boisei- what exactly counts as a super marathon?

Glad to see some other people have found out the same thing i have. I’m going to be doing a lot of riding (2000km over 4 weeks) in a few months time and i thnk i’m going to keep the running as part of my training for that.

My IB team had a training run on thursday night that went really well. We competing against 3 other teams from our college to sort out places in teams for the end event. We were dropped on a fire road at 10.15pm and after 15min of scouting started on our run. We covered 30km in a little under 3 hours on nice fireroads with rolling hills. Luckily for us the night was really clear and the moon was nearly at it’s peak so we could run most of the course without our head lamps.

I pulled up pretty well the next day (despite only getting 4 hours sleep) and only have a little bit of stiffness in my calves (something i am partially putting down to my 30km speed ride on my 36" the day before the run).

Only 3 weeks now untill the big event! am super psyched for it.


ultramarathons (I think that’s what you’re referring to by super marathon) are any distance over the normal marathon. most commonly run offroad.

Boisei-How do you like the vibrams? did you go buy them in person or from an online dealer?

since unicycling tends to shorten your muscles in your legs (small circles). distance running is good to keep everything nice and balanced.

I’m really intrigued by these as well. I’m wondering if they are good for slack lining.

those things are sweet.
i think im gonna order a pair for my 2 week hiking excursion.
the surges…the seem like the best ones…hmmm

I happen to be wearing the vibrams right now, wearing them for the run in to work today. I bought them online, from the website I linked above, although you can get them at other sites and perhaps local shops as well. The website has directions on how to figure out your size that worked for me.

Yes, an ultramarathon is a run longer than a standard marathon (which is 26.2 miles). Usually they start at 50K, and the longest I’ve run is 100 miles. All of the ultramarathons I’ve run have been trail runs.

Is slack inlining walking along a rope? I’d say vibrams would be perfect for that.

Also, if the vibram surge appeals to you, I’ve heard they will soon be discontinued. Order while you can! A different full-foot-covering model called “KSO” for “Keep Stuff Out” is being added to the line instead.

Yea, I’m waiting till the KSOs come out. I’ve heard April sometime, so not too long to wait. I have seen them on some shops but not the main website, so I’m hesitant to order. Do you wear Ininji socks with yours? or do you just go straight Vibrams?

Also, ultramarathons can be time races. Like who can cover the most ground in 24 hours.