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  1. #1
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    Does a Century = a Marathon?

    Is riding 100 miles on a bike as hard as it is to run 26.3 miles?

  2. #2
    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    Seems like apples and oranges to me, what with the different muscle usage and higher impact of running when compared to cycling. I know I can ride a century, but I certainly can't run a marathon.

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    Senior Member MattFoley's Avatar
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    Short answer: not even close.

    Aside from the different affects each has on your body and how different types of training play in to it, there are also a lot of variables like elevation, wind, road surface, etc..., which make a direct comparison pretty much impossible. Personally, I can do a century without much fuss, but I think I'd struggle to run more than about 10 miles...not so much because of fitness, but because I haven't trained my body to deal with the stresses of running.
    Cars man, whyyyyyy?!?!?!?!

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    Senior Member Number400's Avatar
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    Nope. With cycling 100 miles, you can slow/stop your cadence and rest when needed. When running, there is no rest. You can slow down, but you are still running. After a certain amount of miles of running, it does not hurt any less if you do stop and it ultra hard to get going again.

    While you can suffer really hard and long on a bicycle, you can only run until your body stops you from running, and it will one way or another...

    Like waffle said, apples and oranges.
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    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    I would say not even close. Runners rule. I agree that what you're trained for is the biggest issue, but distance running is a serious impact to the body - unless you are a flyweight.

  6. #6
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    Possibly in calories burned. I've yet to do a full marathon, but have done over a dozen half marathons. I hurt for days after a half. I'm usually just a little sore and tired the day after a century ride.

  7. #7
    Senior Member aaronmcd's Avatar
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    Agree with the other answers. Is it bias because we are all cyclists? I dont think so. Riding longer and farther isnt really big deal unless there are hills. I run a lot as well and on my long runs, the first ten miles feel easy and I think I could go forever. then a few miles later my muscles just tire out significantly. I think pushing on long runs at least every week is required to increase distance. I think I could have ridden a century without ever doing a long ride just from commuting 15 miles a day every day (as long as it didnt have more than a few thousand feet gain).

  8. #8
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Another one chiming in to say not even close.

    I was running and cycling a few years back, and I will tell you when I finished my first 5K I felt a very sincere sense of accomplishment. But that's just three miles and some change.

    26.2 miles? A totally different animal.

    Now, a century is a challenge, no doubt about it. But as has been said, you can coast, your century route may be flat (or hilly), you can sit up and spin and recover. You also have the mechanical advantage a bicycle brings to the table. With a marathon it's just you and your body.

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    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    I always wondered because in the Ironman competitions, they run a marathon and then bike 100 miles along with a lengthy swim; which made them think they might be equivalent.

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    Senior Member aaronmcd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    I always wondered because in the Ironman competitions, they run a marathon and then bike 100 miles along with a lengthy swim; which made them think they might be equivalent.
    I have been swimming for a year as well, and I'll take the marathon over the swim every time. I'd even rather run the marathon than do the half distance swim.

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    Regardless of whether a century is equal to a marathon, I think the century is the distance goal that a lot of cyclists look at in the same way as runners look at a marathon.

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    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    I would think a century does not equal a marathon for a Clyde, but I wonder for someone that weighs 150 lbs, is it much of a diff?

    I have a couple of Ironman friends and they said the 100 mile ride was most hated part of the three.

  13. #13
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    yeah, but I'd guess most of the IM participants come to the sport from running, and don't have the cycling background. For proof, watch any triathlete on the bike. Generally speaking (obviously not the elite types, but us weekend warrior types for sure) their cycling form is atrocious -- mashing gears, unable to hold their line, a busy/moving upper body. Triathletes are some of the worst cyclists I've ever seen.

    For triathletes that go into the sport from a cycling background, I'd guess they hate with the run or the swim the most

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    Senior Member MattFoley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post

    I have a couple of Ironman friends and they said the 100 mile ride was most hated part of the three.
    One of the (very hilly) shop rides I do is populated primarily with triathletes, several of whom have done Ironmans (how do you know someone has done an Ironman? they'll f*&%ing tell you!) It's obvious that they spend very little time riding because they really aren't particularly strong or skilled cyclists. I think many triathletes view the bike portion as an afterthought.
    Cars man, whyyyyyy?!?!?!?!

  15. #15
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattfoley View Post
    (how do you know someone has done an ironman? They'll f*&%ing tell you!
    lol!

  16. #16
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
    I would say not even close. Runners rule. I agree that what you're trained for is the biggest issue, but distance running is a serious impact to the body - unless you are a flyweight.
    +1. Marathon runners require a higher heart-rate than what's required when cycling a Century. Unless you are planning to complete a hilly Century in 5 hours, a typical Marathon is much more demanding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post

    I have a couple of Ironman friends and they said the 100 mile ride was most hated part of the three.
    The normal cycling portion of a full Ironman is 200km or about 125 miles. Most Ironman participants use the cycling portion fuel and recover before the Marathon portion.
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 08-23-13 at 10:55 AM.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Number400's Avatar
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    The ride portion of an Ironman is for rest and nutrition :-O
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  18. #18
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    If you're a fit running training for a marathon distance you can do "marathons" with a quick recovery. We routinely did 24 mile training runs without a long recovery. A race where you're going hard is entirely different - you're shredded at the end and the recovery can be a couple of weeks and marathons with climbing and descents really kill your quads on the downhill; there is not resting.

    I supposed you could shred yourself on a Century, but I don't imagine you would cause as much micro-muscle damage which is really the recovery problem for a runner. Maybe that's really the key difference, the amount of damage you can induce running versus riding.
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  19. #19
    Big Boned Biker IAMAMRA's Avatar
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    What about a double century?
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    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    Or a century while pulling a large boat anchor?

  21. #21
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    I would think a century does not equal a marathon for a Clyde, but I wonder for someone that weighs 150 lbs, is it much of a diff?
    Yup. The marathon is still a lot harder than a century. I ran my marathons (under 3 hours) at 148. I was about 152 for my first solo century. There were a couple of marathons where the last 6 miles were a death struggle.

    Here's the thing---you can't ever coast when running. Running downhill isn't coasting. It beats up your hamstrings worse than running flats or uphill. You can go down to the small ring and spin easy to finish a century, if you bonk. For a runner, you run at whatever pace in a race. Say 6 minutes/mile. Try running at 8 minutes/mile and your form goes all to hell.

    I ran my marathons in my 20s. I'll be 60 next week. Centuries are still easy. I've done 100/75 back to back, with the last 10 miles of the 75 uphill and into the wind. It was still easier than any marathon I ever ran.

    If you're a trained swimmer, swimming is the easy part of a tri.

  22. #22
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    Go run a marathon and let us know.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  23. #23
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    I would have to go by recovery time as well....in that case it's not even close.

    I love biking, but I've always been runner at heart and my one and only marathon (37 years old 3:36) is one of my most cherished athletic accomplishments. Thirty years later and I still can't believe I ran 26 consecutive 8 minute miles :-)

  24. #24
    The cat says Merry Xmas Pamestique's Avatar
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    I am taking a different angle here... as a former runner who did a number of marathons and ultra-distance runs and a cyclist who has done centuries... I think in terms of acheivements within those individual sports they are comparable. Runners train to eventually do marathons and cyclists train to eventually do centuries. In terms of efforts, recovery, effect on the body... both weren't easy to do, especially the first time. I believe I recovered faster from centuries but I believe that was more because I had really trained for my centuries where as to marathons, I was a runner, I did distance and I would decided to go out and do a marathon. I have bonked in both types of events and I have an easy times in both...

    So just know if you train to do a century that's not something to be taken lightly. Many people never do one century. Do one and its something to be proud of...
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    Junior Member Jimbo2's Avatar
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    Double Century

    Quote Originally Posted by IAMAMRA View Post
    What about a double century?
    I say a double century is equivalent to a marathon.
    I'm a cyclist who has done many century rides and also a runner who has done many half-marathons. I have trained for both and my recovery is the same for both events. I know I can't do an ultra double century nor a marathon. They are just too much for me. I've tried both, but was unable to finish the distance.

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