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I don't run unless I'm being chased or on fire. A lot of my friends are exclusively running and do a few marathons per year. I've watched them as they've staggered across the finish line at the end of the race. It got me wondering, what's the cycling equivalent of a marathon?

So the engineer in me kicked in (and Google). Runners world says a 165# man burns about 2800 calories during a marathon. UK Daily Mail says the average marathon time is about 4.5 hours so the caloric burn is 625 calories per hour. I Love Bicycling's web site says a 155# man will burn 700 calories/hr riding 14-16 mph, pretty close to a marathon rate of burn.

Based on caloric burn the cycling equivalent of a marathon would be 60-70 miles at about 15 mph. I've never done 65 miles non-stop, probably the longest non-stop I've done is 50 miles without a lot of elevation gain. I couldn't imagine, however, riding 65 miles in 4.5 hours and finishing looking like some who cross the marathon finish line.

For those that do or have done both a marathon and cycling long distances, does this seem like a fair comparison in exertion? If it is then is it the pounding of running that takes its toll over that distance? I'm not going to try running any time soon, just curious to somehow relate my cycling to my friends running.

Thanks.
 

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I could ride 60-70 miles with minimal discomfort.

I couldn't run a marathon if my life depended upon it.
 

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I think your calorie estimations are a bit too high for cycling 15 mph.

In any case, hellllll no.

Typical elite runners may do one to two marathons a year. Typical elite cyclists do 60+ days of racing a year.

A long ride for a decently conditioned cyclist might be 3-4 hours. And they could likely go out and do that again the next day if motivated.

A long run for a decently conditioned runner might be 90-120 minutes. And they very likely wouldn't go out and do that again the next day even if properly motivated.

It took me less than two months to do my first 100 mile ride. Not the most comfortable and I was definitely tired, but I'm pretty sure I went and rode again the next day with no ill effect.

It took me a year and half of consistently building up my mileage before I ventured out on my first two hour run and I was pretty done for the rest of the day and hurting the next.

You simply can't compare the two due to impact. They're not related. No comparisons can really be made. They're just two entirely different things.
 

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112 miles.

Ironman tri = 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile ride, and 26.2 mile run.

I have no science or experience to back up my opinion. But, I always figured a marathon was about equal to a century. With that, I know a guy who runs a couple centuries per year.
 

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Which is harder, a 7x7 Rubix Cube or a chess game?
 

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I think riding while doing a Rubix Cube would be alot easier than playing chess while riding. Maybe 100 miles to .1, cause, well you know.
 

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I could ride 60-70 miles with minimal discomfort.

I couldn't run a marathon if my life depended upon it.
Me either. That's because sitting on bike spinning the crank and rolling on rubber, is much more efficient than running, which would explain how cycling 4.5 hours burning the same calories will get you 65 miles down the road instead of 25.

What does Scooter mean by how runners look crossing the finish line? You mean all the runners who never run more than an hour or so, suddenly increasing their efforts 3 times longer than their bodies are conditioned to handle? Rolling along on two wheels for 3 times longer than rider is used to would probably burn the same calories by the finish, but rider can stop pedaling, coast, or soft pedal to recover leg strength, eat and drink. Do marathon runners stop running to eat and hydrate?

So the equivalence of running and cycling at the same intensity, burning the same amount of calories per hour for 4.5 hours, might be hard to quantify. Running takes much more out of the legs than cycling, it would seem to me, although I never ran more than a half hour back in the day; too hard on the knees. That's what drove me into cycling in the first place. It was easier and I could go all afternoon, 4.5 hours, varying the effort, easing up to recover, expelling lactic acid from the legs, drink and eat, all while maintaining average speeds of 14-15 mph quite easily. The breaks provided probably doesn't work the heart quite as strongly as running, as runners can't "modulate" their effort nearly as much as on a bike.

Just some random thoughts from an old guy who never did any marathons, for your running friends to think about after they've crossed the finish line and taken the rest of the week to recover. :ihih: So much easier to train up the heart rate, principle component of fitness, spinning on rubber, than pounding the legs at the same heart rates, at aerobic intensities presumably below lactate threshold.
 

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I think your calorie estimations are a bit too high for cycling 15 mph.

In any case, hellllll no.

Typical elite runners may do one to two marathons a year. Typical elite cyclists do 60+ days of racing a year.

A long ride for a decently conditioned cyclist might be 3-4 hours. And they could likely go out and do that again the next day if motivated.

A long run for a decently conditioned runner might be 90-120 minutes. And they very likely wouldn't go out and do that again the next day even if properly motivated.

It took me less than two months to do my first 100 mile ride. Not the most comfortable and I was definitely tired, but I'm pretty sure I went and rode again the next day with no ill effect.

It took me a year and half of consistently building up my mileage before I ventured out on my first two hour run and I was pretty done for the rest of the day and hurting the next.

You simply can't compare the two due to impact. They're not related. No comparisons can really be made. They're just two entirely different things.
Well said. That's right. :yesnod:
 

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Got a triathlon supplimentmag thing that came with Running mag (UK Mag from th e80's) and it had a little chart thing to explaine it all...but it was a long time ago, all that I remember is that running to riding was x4... which of course is obvious if you look at olymic triathlon dist. 10 vs 40km.
So by that - 168.8km (104-105miles)

But as mentioned above, ironman is 112miles, so a bit farther.

Not that I'd kow, never done either, but I'd say that is probably about right...so long as you did your ride at high intensity (no coasting, resting etc) as there's no cruising down hills in a marathon.
 

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I could ride 60-70 miles with minimal discomfort.

I couldn't run a marathon if my life depended upon it.
this ^

I've come pretty close to running a marathon while running with the wife (she was training for one).. at this point it would compare to a 150mile ride with atleast 10-12K of climbing.
 

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Unless you're Lance...but that's just the drugs...
First of all, if he had been competing in running instead of cycling, his knees would also suffer the same issues (and that was my point, that running takes much more out of the body physically than cycling). And secondly, even with all the doping, he still cannot hope to come close to contending for podium against elite world class marathoners. His built is more for a tri guy, marathoners are much thinner than tri guys. Speaking on body mass index and bodyfat%, elite marathoners have much lower BMI and bodyfat% than elite cyclists. Lance would need more than just dope, he would need to change his body composition to be even thinking of competing against elite marathoners (and here I'm referring to Lance in his prime, the Lance today has zero hope).
 

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It's so hard, maybe impossible to really compare the two. So much depends on the individual ride parameters. I have a friend who's done two ironmans and a host of marathons. A couple years ago, we did a 200k ride that included almost 12k feet of intense climbing (shorter steep hills, non-stop) and at the end of that ride, in terms of difficulty he put it at a close 2nd behind the ironmans. Keep in mind an iron man includes 2 mi swim, 112 miles of biking, followed by a marathon.

I've done a number of 125+ mile rides on flatter ground at about 15-16mph average pace and am tired after, but not exhausted. I've done a hilly, gravel century at a fast pace and felt ready to die of exhaustion at the end.

I also ran a 1/2 marathon once and felt terrible afterwards...

No way to adequately compare IMO.
 

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Unless you're Lance...but that's just the drugs...
Actually, he was a triathlete first, I believe.

I would say that the cycling equivalent of a marathon is at least a double century. I've done marathons and lost count of the number of centuries that I've done. I've never felt as bad after one of them as I did after finishing a marathon. I also never puked during a century, but did once in a marathon. And no next day recovery ride was ever as tough as doing even a 3-5 mile jog the day after 26.2.
 

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The two sports are phsioligically so different, it's almost impossible to compare.

Stop pedaling, and what happens? Big mo keeps you moving (unless you are riding a very steep incline).

Stop striding? Splat on the ground.

Riding downhill can be done with nearly zero effort, running downhill requires almost as much energy output as running flat or uphill.

I guess if you compared running to a significant climb on a bike, there might be enough similarities to compare them.
 

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Well, I have done 6 marathons including qualifying for Boston but my true love has always been cycling. I can ride 100 miles at a decent pace and it is nowhere near as difficult as a marathon.
Running uses different muscles than cycling and running a 8 minute mile for 3.5 hours is somewhat like climbing for 5 hours at your LT. YMMV

Both sports are hard but in running you never get to coast or let up your pace. Also, both can be hard, or easy.
 

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Since power is a universal unit of measurment for efforts. You could get a running powermeter.
Stryd: Hands-on with the first running power meter | DC Rainmaker

Then set a target output of the total work it took you to run the 26 miles.

Have a powermeter on your bike and pick a few different courses
Pancake flat
Rolling hills 50ft a mile gain
Hilly 80 to 100 ft a mile a gain
extremely hilly 200 ft + a mile of gain

Pace yourself according to your marathon effort which would be endurance to tempo heart rate or power zones. Record mileage over the different terrains, once you reach your output of work, and that would be the result.
 
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