Plyometrics for better bike-run transitions
If you've ever done a triathlon, you'll know that feeling when, having completed the bike leg, you lace up your running shoes and set off for the final leg; your brain's still thinking in circles when you really want it to do is to switch into stride mode!
Previous studies have shown that at least part of the reason for these awkward bike-run transition sensations in the legs is because of changes in the neuromotor control system that occur after long periods of cycling, which take a while to reverse once running commences.
However, new Australian research suggests that a certain type of training could help minimise the discomfort of the initial running period following the bike-run transition, helping triathletes to get into their natural stride more rapidly. Fifteen triathletes were split into two groups and performed one of two training protocols:
●● Endurance-only training (as per their normal schedules);
●● Endurance training with additional plyometric training
This plyometric training consisted of three sessions of 30 minutes per week of increasing difficulty for eight weeks. Before and after the 8-week training period, the triathletes' 'neuromotor control' was determined by measuring how efficiently they used oxygen and the electrical patterns of muscle activity in their legs (lower limb electromyography) for a period of four minutes at 12kmh during a control run (no prior cycling) and during a run after 45 minutes of cycling (simulating a bike-run transition run). The results showed that after the intervention period, 100% of the triathletes in the plyometric group exhibited muscle recruitment patterns during running after cycling that closely resembled the recruitment patterns used during an isolated (control) run. In the endurance-only group however, only 40% ofthe triathletes improved their neuromotor control – a significant difference.
This was only a small study and more research isneeded. However, it does indicate that adding some plyometrics into a triathlon training routine could pay serious dividends when it comes to the bike-run transition!