Running V Cycling equivalents

plymouthsteve
plymouthsteve Posts: 136
edited January 2013 in Road general
Hi.
OK, so I ride quite alot, but because of a old knee injury that won't take kindly to impact, I can run for about a mile, and that's it. Everything seizes.
My mate can run forever .. Indeed, he's run over 50 marathons in the last 5 years, but can't ride a bike because, quite honestly, he would fall off.
The one question we keep asking, which neither of us can agree on, but many of you can answer is.. How far do I have to ride in one go to have achieved the equivalent of a marathon?
I say 3x (so 78 miles) because only a dedicated rider can reasonably do this, and would train at about 1/3rd this distance. He says 4x (so 100+ miles) or I suppose a sportive?
I know there will be alot of people on this forum who both run and ride, so will have a valid opinion, and I thought the debate would be fun, so off you go.......
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Comments

  • Somewhere between 26 and 500 miles.

    Hope this helps
  • Um. Not really.
    Obviously I can google the scientific reply (4x) but I wanted opinions from people who actually do both and know about the feeling, walls etc.
    Thanks
  • herb71
    herb71 Posts: 253
    I have done the London marathon twice, and used to be a reasonable runner at shorter distances. (best half in under 89 minutes).

    Lots of variables, but the 78 mile Etape Pennines was harder than the London Marathon in my opinion. I reckon on a flat course on a good day you would need to be cycling 4 to 5 times as far to be comparable.
  • Interesting.

    One way of putting the two on a more equal footing would be to ask "On average, how many calories are burnt over the duration of a marathon - and at the average speed that most people do a marathon?"

    Take that number of calories (say 3000 for the sake of argument) and work out how long an average cyclist would travel to burn off 3000 calories also.

    Lots of variables of course. WHAT exactly IS the average speed of the average cyclist, for example? But statistics is your friend here. You could collate lots of data from different events and at least come up with a round figure. And you could do a similar exercise for the marathon runners, to eliminate as many outliers as possible. It's all about the natural distribution of numbers.

    By definition, you could never nail this 100%, but you could get more precise than a single digit (e.g. 3.3 times).

    That way, you could tell who was closer to the real answer between your mate and you.

    Hope you're right...let us know...!!
  • rich164h
    rich164h Posts: 433
    x4 feels about right to me on average, but as said above it does depend on terrain/wind etc.
  • smidsy
    smidsy Posts: 5,273
    Well on the basis that I could cycle 100 miles tomorrow if I had to and I could never run 25 miles in 1 go I would say its a lot more than 100 miles equivalent.

    For me running is just so much harder, I guess it is all relative. I never have enjoyed running and have only ever been a sprinter at that sport.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • triquin
    triquin Posts: 30
    Surely the easiest measure would be to see how many calories you or your friend burn for a marathon and then ride a distance to burn the same amount of calories? :)
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    Ran for years in the Cornish Grand Prix before taking up cycling because I got bored. I have absolutely no scientific basis or evidence to back this up but feels like about 3 to 1. Did 42 today and my body reaction is similar to having run a half marathon. Completely different dynamic but that's my gut feeling... Hope it helps
  • rich164h
    rich164h Posts: 433
    smidsy wrote:
    Well on the basis that I could cycle 100 miles tomorrow if I had to and I could never run 25 miles in 1 go I would say its a lot more than 100 miles equivalent.

    For me running is just so much harder, I guess it is all relative. I never have enjoyed running and have only ever been a sprinter at that sport.
    It probalby depends on what you're used to. There's a girl that I run with some lunchtimes, she does a handful of marathons each and every year and yet when I've been out on the bike with her she's really struggling past the 20 mile mark. She cannot understand how someone could do 100 miles, whereas for me, a half marathon is the furthest I've ran so far and the prospect of doing double that in one go doesn't bear thinking about, but I can do back-to-back 100 mile days on the bike without any real problem.
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    I'd go for something like 5 x the distance bike to run.
    Ironman tri has 112 miles on the bike and then a full marathon. The marathon is always the hardest part.
  • Lightning
    Lightning Posts: 360
    This is really relative. For whatever is worth, I find runners have a much harder time picking up cycling than the other way around, but I don't think completing a marathon or riding 200k is particularly hard if you run/ride regularly.

    A friend of mine (runner) who's used to running marathons went on two short bike rides with me and was absolutely knackered every time. As in, he would have been in a better shape if he ran the course instead of riding it. He got cramps, saddle pain, back pain, etc, and had to stop both times to rest. I find this to be expected as while most people have run at some point in time (or at least walk a lot), the same doesn't apply to cycling.

    This same friend of mine challenged me to run a marathon once. I didn't even run before the actual marathon (I don't like running and was always riding anyways) and I completed it with no problems whatsoever (slower than him obviously). As you can imagine my legs were dead for one week after that because I wasn't used to it at all, but during the actual running they were fine.

    Basically, don't worry about comparisons like this. Cycling and running are two different sports and they're both very hard if you take them serious. Also, if you run/ride regularly, I'm pretty sure the distance won't really scare you: the pace will.
  • Bozman
    Bozman Posts: 2,518
    I think that it's more than 5 to 1 but I suppose a lot is down to the Individual.
    I can comfortably cycle 100 miles at a fair pace but I struggled to do 10k a couple of years ago. I have a friend who does marathons in under 2.30, he borrowed a bike and joined some mates on a ride in the lakes and completed all but one climb......Hardknott pass.
  • nawty
    nawty Posts: 225
    I'm a runner, I use the term loosely, best half mara time is 1:44 and I've done 3 full maras too and I've recently taken up cycling.

    I honestly don't really think the two are comparable. Unless you're one of those naturally freaky runners who can run forever a mara gives your body such a pounding that it isn't just about calories but a whole host of other things.

    When I first started running it took me months to build up to 10 miles yet my third time out on the bike and I was at nearly 40 and didn't feel a thing (except really hungry when I got home), granted I'm much fitter now than when I started running.

    A friend of mine who ran a 3:44 mara with NO training whatsoever recently took up cycling and did a 100 mile sportive (again, minimal training), he hit the wall at around 80 miles but reckons a mara is much tougher.

    So, for me I reckon somewhere over 4 times the distance would be about right but I do feel it's a bit apples and oranges.
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  • jibberjim
    jibberjim Posts: 2,810
    They're not at all equivalent.

    Running has a minimum intensity - below that the activity is called walking, Cycling has no minimum intensity other than that required not to fall over sideways - almost nil downhill or of course.

    So you can keep going cycling at not much more intensity than your day to day life. So you can "do" your 100miles by resting a lot within it. Running you can't do the same and still have people recognise that you're running.

    Distances are not comparable, but neither is energy expenditure, as the impact of speed is very different, there's only a small increase in energy required to run faster over the same distance, but there's a large energy required to cycle faster over the same distance due to wind resistance.
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  • The furthest that I have ridden is 76 miles - that was without any specific training, just going out for a couple of shortish rides each week. I have run quite a few marathons and whilst I could get round quite easily without training in about 5 hours on a flat course, to run sub 4hours requires quite significant training. Sub 3 1/2 hours I have to stick to a specific training schedule. I would say that for me it would be quite a bit more than 100 miles to be the equivalent of a marathon.
  • Hi.
    OK, so I ride quite alot, but because of a old knee injury that won't take kindly to impact, I can run for about a mile, and that's it. Everything seizes.
    My mate can run forever .. Indeed, he's run over 50 marathons in the last 5 years, but can't ride a bike because, quite honestly, he would fall off.
    The one question we keep asking, which neither of us can agree on, but many of you can answer is.. How far do I have to ride in one go to have achieved the equivalent of a marathon?
    I say 3x (so 78 miles) because only a dedicated rider can reasonably do this, and would train at about 1/3rd this distance. He says 4x (so 100+ miles) or I suppose a sportive?
    I know there will be alot of people on this forum who both run and ride, so will have a valid opinion, and I thought the debate would be fun, so off you go.......

    Dunno but when your both retired and your still riding and hes most likely laid up with destroyed joints he'l be wishing he'd bought a bike.
    the deeper the section the deeper the pleasure.
  • I entered a marathon on a whim and trained for it over a couple of months, mostly on the bike, but with a dozen or so runs of varying lengths to check on what pace I could manage on the day (just under the 4hr mark for me). I am not sure a 42k run needs to be that difficult, as long as you don't go out too fast and take on as many calories as you can tolerate from the very beginning.

    I am planning a hilly 200k audax in the Spring (the longest distance I have ridden) and that seems like a similar level of challenge, although it would maybe seem more daunting if was completed non-stop in the way a marathon is.
  • smidsy
    smidsy Posts: 5,273
    To the OP - looks like the consensous is that you will lose the bet.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • letap73
    letap73 Posts: 1,608
    I have cycled 112 miles and run a marathon. The marathon was harder and felt more of an achievement. I find running far more physically jarring -the effects of the marathon were felt for far longer than the cycle, even though I am fairly certain I expended a greater amount of energy on the ride.
  • A marathon might compare to 200 miles of very hard riding, no less... however, a marathon is way more stressful for the joints... PRO marathon runner do 4-5 events every year, while PRO cyclists can clock up to 150 days of racing in one season

    It just doesn't compare
    left the forum March 2023
  • mike6
    mike6 Posts: 1,199
    Depends on the pace you run or ride. I did a lot of running before I came to cycling. I could run 26 miles without too much trouble, but racing a marathon is a whole different ball game. I raced one marathon in 2.41 and that hurt, and took about two weeks to get over properly.
    I have ridden 100 plus miles quite a few times and felt fine the next day. I did a 120 mile sportive in France and did it like a race, ie pushed myself and got everything out, a bit like the marathon, and I was tired for about a week.

    So I think, If you are fit, It is pace not just distance that needs to be factored in.
  • My two'penneth would be....

    To do the Great North Run with no prior experience I endured 5 months of training, went through agony with my knees and after running 5 miles or more could barely walk the following day. It was painful, mentally exhausting and gave me no sense of enjoyment. I did the GNR in 2 hrs and apart from the first couple of miles I hated it. And I'm 6ft1 and 11 stone so it wasn't like I was hauling loads of weight around with me.

    When I started cycling I had no experience but after a few weeks I was able to ride for 60 miles in hilly terrain at an average speed of 16mph. I felt a bit tired but had no pain or after affects. When I'm on the bike I enjoy it and feel relaxed even when making significant efforts.

    I would never, ever, ever want to run a marathon. I can't wait to tackle my first 100 mile ride this summer.
  • Hanners
    Hanners Posts: 260
    two completely different sports with different effects on the body, running takes more out of joints as its an impact sport marathons are hard they take me the best part of 10 days to recover from not only the body but also from the mental investment, cycling is low impact when you want a rest you can freewheel etc a 100 mile sportive at gold standard takes a days recovery, plus if in a group you can get a tow for part of it i wouldnt expect the same kudos from a sportive as a marathon. i found racing a marathon longer to recover from than an ironman (as the ironman isnt raced as such its more about conserving energy for the whole day) basically there not comparable really.
  • glasgowbhoy
    glasgowbhoy Posts: 1,341
    Having run a couple of marathons at 3hour pace I would say that La Marmotte , 174km and 5000m of climbing in very hot conditions and pacing for under 8 hours they were quite comparable. Both took me into quite dark places but I could barely walk the day after the marathons where as I was able to ride the bike again after La Marmotte, although I was still pretty tired.
  • jibberjim wrote:
    They're not at all equivalent.

    Running has a minimum intensity - below that the activity is called walking, Cycling has no minimum intensity other than that required not to fall over sideways - almost nil downhill or of course.

    So you can keep going cycling at not much more intensity than your day to day life. So you can "do" your 100miles by resting a lot within it. Running you can't do the same and still have people recognise that you're running.

    Distances are not comparable, but neither is energy expenditure, as the impact of speed is very different, there's only a small increase in energy required to run faster over the same distance, but there's a large energy required to cycle faster over the same distance due to wind resistance.


    ^^^^^ this.

    I've heard cycling is about 5 times more efficient than running so that being the case, if you cycled at running pace you'd need to cycle 5 times further to do the equivalent distance.

    The fly in the ointment is that drag increases as a function of the speed cubed so as soon as the speed starts going up it uses a lot more energy and the equivalent distance comes down pretty rapidly. In fact, at a high enough speed it would be a 1 for 1 equivalent.
  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,383
    We ve had this discussion a lot over the years and have arrived as a totally correct, scientifically accurate number of about 1:3:6 for Run:MTB:Road

    QED
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  • I'd consider running AND cycling to be my main sports. I've run 5 marathons and also ridden the Marmotte, so I think I can compare the two well.

    Actually, I DO think you can compare them. There's a huge overlap between running and cycling, in terms of training philosophies, pacing and tactics. What cyclists call the bonk runners call the wall.

    The problem is that there is a fundamental different which no-one has picked up so far in this thread. In fact, someone argued the opposite.

    If you ride a bike, there's plenty of time when you're not actually riding, but freewheeling, or light pedalling.

    But if you're running, you're running. Stop running and...well, you stop. It's a constant effort.

    Cycling is not a constant effort. It's start, stop, slow down, speed up, high heart rate, low heart rate. Running a marathon is pretty steady effort. In fact, it's a masterclass in pacing, as anyone will know.

    Running a marathon is psychologically tough. When you reach 20 miles, you just want it to be over. If you bonk on the bike then it's a totally different feeling; more physical than mental.

    For that reason, I'd say that the multiple for cycling is much higher than you think. 26 miles running - I'd suggest - is equivalent to 125 - 150 miles on the bike. In other words:

    It's something that most people haven't done, but could do if they tried
    It's a long, steady effort
    It requires expert pacing and nutrition
    It's a distance that a decent percentage of starters will fail to finish
    It's a distance which is psychologically tough as well as physically tough
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,414
    rich164h wrote:
    smidsy wrote:
    Well on the basis that I could cycle 100 miles tomorrow if I had to and I could never run 25 miles in 1 go I would say its a lot more than 100 miles equivalent.

    For me running is just so much harder, I guess it is all relative. I never have enjoyed running and have only ever been a sprinter at that sport.
    It probalby depends on what you're used to. There's a girl that I run with some lunchtimes, she does a handful of marathons each and every year and yet when I've been out on the bike with her she's really struggling past the 20 mile mark. She cannot understand how someone could do 100 miles, whereas for me, a half marathon is the furthest I've ran so far and the prospect of doing double that in one go doesn't bear thinking about, but I can do back-to-back 100 mile days on the bike without any real problem.

    This.
  • ricey155
    ricey155 Posts: 233
    I've thought about this also but its only a macho thing i can't run a bit like the original thread started a do a mile or 2 and everything breaks down, calf,knee the lot

    biking is easier on the joints thus no running for me, I'd like a figure to achieve but its only so i can feel what marathon runners feel, would it take a week to recover from 150 miles ?? i believe it takes a while after a marathon to recover ?

    maybe doing 100 x 2 over 2 days would give you the same feeling ?
  • overlord2
    overlord2 Posts: 339
    I've been running for about 15 years and done about 10 marathons. Also done a few longish fell runs. The two activities I think really complement each other. There are aspects from running that I can put into cycling and vis-a-versa. Both are very different in terms of physiology a pacey marathon at 20 miles really begins to hurt, mentally you want to stop, and the legs take on a life or their own knee lift after 20 miles is very very hard to do.

    Ive done a few sportives around the dales and the same feeling as the marathon tends to knock in at 70 miles the feeling isnt as extreme but I think it feels like a running out of fuel rather than your body telling you to stop. I assume this is the point that the metabolism is switching to Ketosis, after 10 miles or so the feeling goes away.

    I ran a marathon at 3hrs12 min and was spent, you are exhausted afterwards and everything below the waist HURTS. If someone asked you to run it again the day after for £1000000 you couldn't. I have done sportives at a moderate pace and the next day feel like I could do it again.

    Both at a good level are hard though. For me the fundamental difference physically is that running is about keeping the stop demon away, cycling is about keeping that exhaustion demon away.

    The perfect examples of how they complement each other are Rob Jebb and Billy Bland

    There are plenty on here that think running is easier than cycling. It isn't. There are plenty runners that think cycling is easier. It isn't