Hi there. I'm 30 years old and have ran on and off for 10 years, to a decent club standard. When I set out, I gave myself long term targets of 32 mins/15 mins for 10k/5k respectively. I am now a matter of seconds off these targets and I'm about to embark on a 20 week block of training to hopefully meet them. Whilst there is no doubt in my mind that if I had the luxury of running full time, I could perhaps get these times down further still, I am realistic enough to realise that I have hit a plateaux in the sport of running (given I'm keeping to the constraints that work and family commitments bring with them). At the peak of my training I managed to find time for a 30 min, 6 am run before work, around 60-90 mins after work and around 2 hours on a Sunday (although this could be extended by getting up earlier on a Sunday, there was no gains to be had in running further than this though!).
Given this plateaux, I fancy a new challenge and the obvious choice is cycling. I have always been an armchair fan, and really fancy it. Physically, I may even be more suited to it than running. I am on the larger (although I prefer 'powerful!') side of runners and do not have the stick like physique of Mo farah. I have a lab measured VO2 max of 76, which suggests the engine is there, but have always had a poor economy of movement when it comes to running. I have no delusions of grandeur when it comes to cycling - I will very much take it as it comes. My love of running has always been linked to scale of improvement rather than absolute times, and the same will hold true for cycling I expect. I will however be throwing myself into it fully, and putting in the same hours as I do with running. I don't do things by halves, life is too short!
I therefore have a few questions, if I may:
1) Has anybody got any experience of making a similar transition? I hear it is easier than the other way round, as cyclists have to get used to the load bearing effect of running - hence why Lance ran a poor marathon time by club standards.
2) Am I right in thinking that TTs are the main form of competition for club cyclists in the UK, and that road races are just reserved for members of pro teams? Do club guys ever get a crack at a 4k pursuit, like runners do with a track 1500 m etc?
3) Does the bike really have as much influence on times as people make out? Looking at the 10 mile rankings on the CTT, the top domestic rider on the club scene seems to be Hutchinson with 17:45. If we assume that this is equivalent to say a top club runner's 5k time of around 14:00, then if I was to ride a 10 mile TT to the same standard as I run a 5k, simple ratios would put me at around the 20 min mark. However, I am assuming that Hutchinson would own the best gear that money could buy, so realistically, what would this translate to on say a £1000 bike?
4) How much would I need to spend on gear to be competitive and undertake the same frequency of training/racing that I am used to with running? From what I could see, I could probably get away with a winter training bike, a TT bike and a turbo trainer for speed sessions. Plus I'd need the bare minimum at first in terms of helmet, shoes and clothes. Could I get away with sticking Tri-bars on the training bike and racing that?
Sorry for lengthy post. If I sound in anyway like I think the transition will be easy than this is not the case! I realise that I'll have to start at near the bottom and learn the ticks of the trade for a different sport and I guess joining a club will help me in this respect. I look forward to your responses!