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  1. #1
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    just had major back surgery...

    first time ever posting on this sight. I had surgery last week, removed a disk from lower back. I was an avid runner with big dreams, although fairly new at it.I ran a half marathon in October and was training for a full for next November. I am fifty years old in feb. and am heartbroken. It doesn't make sense to think I can run that much again. I do hope to run a little, but am excited to start biking for first time.
    has anyone here switched from hardcore running to biking? was it a letdown? how about the cardio differences? the satisfaction differences?
    I have alot to ask and discuss, but this is a start. I obviously have alot of rehab first.

    Dan

  2. #2
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Hi Dan, and welcome to the forum!

    Very sorry to hear about your problems. I've had a bad back most of my adult life (degenerative discs, herniated discs, and recently sciatica), but nothing of the magnitude of yours. I can only imagine...

    I've never been a runner, so I can't really comment or compare the two activities. There are a number of interesting threads on the forums about this issue though. Just a few thoughts - cycling is more efficient, so I would have to think (though I don't know for sure) that running is more of a workout. On the other hand, cycling has to be a lot easier on the joints than running. When my back is bothering me, I can barely walk, but I could do a 60 mile ride at an aerobic pace. I DO know that it can be a very aerobic workout, and can be as strenuous as you want it to be. If you find yourself addicted that to exericise "high", you can definately acheive it through cycling.

    For me, cycling isn't just about staying fit. It's also about getting out and seeing the world. You're only contraints are your level of fitness and time. If nothing else, it may be a way for you to stay fit while you recuperate from your surgery.

    Besides, you just can't look as sexy running as you can on a bike

    Take care, good luck, and keep us posted!

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by acateam
    first time ever posting on this sight. I had surgery last week, removed a disk from lower back. I was an avid runner with big dreams, although fairly new at it.I ran a half marathon in October and was training for a full for next November. I am fifty years old in feb. and am heartbroken. It doesn't make sense to think I can run that much again. I do hope to run a little, but am excited to start biking for first time. has anyone here switched from hardcore running to biking? was it a letdown? how about the cardio differences? the satisfaction differences?
    Here's my experience.

    I'm 47 (I know, I shouldn't be here yet but have spent my entire life doing running sports - soccer, football, tennis, basketball etc - and some at a very high level. About 5 years ago the back started playing up. To cut a long story short, it got very bad and I had no option but to have an L4/5 fusion. That was in October. I was upset and truly thought that would be the end of my active life.

    But to the good news, I now swim 5 days a week (1.5 km a day) and ride about 120 km a week - all with no pain. I could have stayed depressed about not being able to do the sports I really loved but I just kicked myself in the arse and told myself that it was an opportunity to do something new. I see the doctor next month and he hasn't ruled out the chance of returning to some running sports but I tend to think the more passive sports will preserve my 'no pain state' far better than if I start pounding the ground again. I'd love to play the odd game to catch up with friends but long term (spine) health is more important than short term gratification. I have a young family to consider also.

    As far as comparisons are concerned; I'm probably at a similar fitness level as before. Sometimes I have to force myself to go swimming or biking because I don't enjoy them as much as the team sports but once I get going I'm always pleased I did.

    Without wanting to sound like a $10 shrink, my advice is to revel in the challenge of persuing something new - as hard as it might seem now, consider this an opportunity rather than a setback.

    // kim

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acateam
    I had surgery last week, removed a disk from lower back...
    has anyone here switched from hardcore running to biking? was it a letdown? how about the cardio differences? the satisfaction differences?
    I have alot to ask and discuss, but this is a start. I obviously have alot of rehab first.
    I have never been a runner or a competitive cyclist but have had three back surgeries (laminectomies), 1977, 1986, 1996. The surgeries never affected my bicycling, though I suspect drop handlebars could be a problem. I always prefered sitting upright and never rode on drop handlebars before or after surgery.
    Only after surgeryrestriction: I can't lift my bike on to a roof rack, or pick it up when I have it loaded for commuting. Never had to do rehab either. That's it.

  5. #5
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    I have never been a runner or a competitive cyclist but have had three back surgeries (laminectomies), 1977, 1986, 1996. The surgeries never affected my bicycling, though I suspect drop handlebars could be a problem. I always prefered sitting upright and never rode on drop handlebars before or after surgery.
    Only after surgeryrestriction: I can't lift my bike on to a roof rack, or pick it up when I have it loaded for commuting. Never had to do rehab either. That's it.
    One my neighbours had back surgery last August. By the end of September he was back at work and in October aquired a bike. He has just come back from a 5 mile trip with his 7 year old daughter, and is out right now buying a better bike so he can go faster with her keeping up on the rides. By the way- have talked his daughter into getting a proper mountain bike so she can come out with me and really play in the mud. Dad is no longer talking to me, just in case he has to come along aswell. Coward.
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    Thank you Kim - Your words are inspiring.I do and will continue to see this as an opportunity to partake in another challenge rather than a setback. I am a father of eight children, and married for 20 years. perhaps cycling is what God has ordered. It is far more family orientated.

    Dan

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    Dear Steve - and others - In your estimation, what is the biking equivalent to a running marathon? Figure all the training, the feat itself, and the magnitude of the self-satisafaction

  8. #8
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acateam
    Dear Steve - and others - In your estimation, what is the biking equivalent to a running marathon? Figure all the training, the feat itself, and the magnitude of the self-satisafaction
    It probably varies from person to person, but for me it would probably be the "century". When talking with other cyclists, invariably the question pops up, "have you done your first century yet?". Sort of a milestone for everyone, I guess.

    I remember last year, in mid-April, Linda and I did our first Ironman. We only did the 62 miler (otherwise known as a metric century), but for us it was a major milestone. We've done a few since then, and this year on April 30th, we'll be doing the Ironman again, but the century this time.

    I'm sure there are others, but a frequent poster to this forum, Will Dehne, is training for a cross-continent race this year. He would be more qualified than I am to answer your question about the training, the magnitude, etc.

    Will, are you listening?

    Steve

  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acateam
    Dear Steve - and others - In your estimation, what is the biking equivalent to a running marathon? Figure all the training, the feat itself, and the magnitude of the self-satisafaction
    I reckon that a top runner can do a marathon in 2 1/2 hrs. Good club runners in 3+ and good fitness joggers in 4. It is that 4 hour mark you have to aim for as a Fitness or 3+ as a good club runner. Distance for this is the problem but a Flat Metric century- 65 miles on the road should be about right. If much elevation is there though, then 50 miles should suffice.

    For those in the UK- The London to Brighton Bike ride is about right. 54 miles just enough hills to interest and the only problem is 33,000 other riders trying to knock you off your bike. Not a ride or time that can be done with ease but with training is achievable.
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    acateam-I feel for you,but cycling is a pretty satisfyng substitute for running.It is hard to push yourself as hard cycling as you can running(if you cycle alone),but you can cycle for a lot longer than you can run.Your joints don't take the beating cycling-or swimming-that they do running.
    If you find the bent over position of most bikes to be hard on your neck-back(I hate that bent over position-54 yo)there are ways to sit bolt upright.The bent over position is fine for low drag,but who cares about low drag when they are 54??Take it easy initially-do a lot less than you think you can-and you will love it.If you need some ideas on making the seating position upright-I'm an expert on that(but nothing else).Luck,Charlie

  11. #11
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Welcome acateam!! Really sorry to hear about the back but maybe it's just saying you were really meant to be on a bike! You can find about any equivalent level of activity in cycling that you could do in running.

    You can set your sights for metric centuries (62 miles) which can take 3 to 4 hours. English centuries (100 miles) can take 5 to 8 hours, depending on the amount of climbing involved. We also have some 10 mile time trials in our area which are a lot of fun.

    I can't speak for others but having done a good number of centuries, I can assure you there is plent of feeling of accomplishment from the planning, training and just finishing some of them. Plus you'll meet a number of really fine people along the way.

  12. #12
    Senior Member bullethead's Avatar
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    I used to be a runner,and never thought anything else would take its place. I started in my teens and loved it. Ran many road races and Boston once. Also picked up severe back and leg pain shortly after.Lots of physical therapy and chiro that didnt work. Rode bike but running was the fave. Running declined through mid twenties but I tried to keep at it. Pain got worse. Got married, followed by child and a lot of weight. Dabbled in what was by then slow jogging. Picked up scuba. Realized I had to get back into shape. Picked up jogging again. Bike seemed to hurt my back on any rides longer than about 20 miles. Jogging has declined, bike increased. Last year back pain on bike went away. Did my first commute in spring 30M round trip and worked up to 2-3 times per week. Did my first organized century in Sept., after about 10 weeks of "training". Had operation which took me out for about 4 weeks but am getting back on the program . I'm 40+ now and still a clydesdale, but am enjoying the bike all seasons. This forum is a great resource, and entertaining. Sorry for the long diatribe, but just wanted to let you know that cycling can be a great alternative to running from someone who's been there. I find music while I ride (at a reasonable volume) a help. Opinions on that as well as most other things run both ends of the spectrum here. Good Luck.
    Quitting in an adverse situation leaves no alternative except death

  13. #13
    Senior Member bullethead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acateam
    Dear Steve - and others - In your estimation, what is the biking equivalent to a running marathon? Figure all the training, the feat itself, and the magnitude of the self-satisafaction
    Being a relative newbie myself, and based on your previous fitness level, a century sounds comperable, though an "easy one" One with a lot of climbing or severe weather would obviously require more training,mental toughness, etc. My first was pancake flat in the fall. Took me 8 hrs. total. It was a challenge for me mentally and physically, and rewarding.My goal at that time was to just finish in the time allowed. If my fitness increases I will shoot for shorter time. I can't wait for my next one. I may even try a run close to home this winter.
    Quitting in an adverse situation leaves no alternative except death

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    WOW - having been a regular forumite on Runner's World for a long time, I must say how impressed I am and thankful for all of your responses. Again, this is my first post on any "bike sight" for that matter and not only am I slowly transitioning to biking, which was a hard pill to swallow as a runner( its no fun when a surgeon insists on it), but I am becoming excited about it.

    I do my first post- op visit tomorrow and will see what happens. I feel fantastic, and inspired. In fact I took my wife To a bike place today and she is excited as well.

    We came away liking the Sequoia, a comfort road bike. We have alot to learn and are open to your advice of course!

    Dan

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    He doesn't seem to post in the 50+ forum that often any more, but the best person to ask about this may be skydive69. He was an elite runner whose chronic foot troubles made him change to cycling, and now he's an elite cyclist. If he doesn't see this thread and answer here, drop him an email.
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    They told me it's ok to post mileage over in the commuting forum, so you'll probably find me there these days.

  16. #16
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acateam
    We came away liking the Sequoia, a comfort road bike. We have alot to learn and are open to your advice of course!
    Dan,

    A Sequoia would be a great choice, in my humble opinion. For a road bike, it's a bit more upright than most. Very, very comfortable, and it doesn't trade off much in the way of performance.

    Which model are you looking at?

    Steve

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    Steve- the base sequoia suits the budget,first bike, and one for my wife too. comfort for the back, and can still get going - agree?

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    Sorry about the surgery, I have been where you are now, I turned 30 in a hospital bed, I had 2 discs removed and my spinal canal widened, I thought I was gonna be a cripple for life, I'm 48 now and in the best shape of my life.
    It took about a year until I started to see light at the end of the long pain filled tunnel, it took a good surgeon, a lot of grit and faith in the lord to get me where I am now.
    Give it some time and hopefully you will be as lucky as I was/am, I have very little restrictions and little pain (most of the time). Good luck.
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    diamondback -
    that's a powerfully positive response for a guy in my position. thanks for taking the time.Your character comes through with every word.curious though - are your vertebrae fused? my surgeon, a great one, left my space open. I am proud to say he said my back muscles were plenty strong enough to hold it that way. I guess all that core work and training paid off, well maybe running was a bit of the cause too.
    I see him in two hours from now, the first time since the surgery. I have lots of questions for him.

    I'll get to you with more.

    Dan

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    I had back surgery a few years ago and had L5 & L6 removed. Just wanted you to know; just hang tough and you'll be able to do a lot of things you don't think you can do. A year after the surgery I did a 10K run and went on to do longer runs and bike rides. I currently am into ultra rides; ones over 100 miles and have very minor back problems. Mu surgery was when I was 38 and I am 62 now. To me biking is much more rewarding then the running is except for trail runs. By the way mine were not fused. The doctor said scar tissue would build up and create a buffer which it appears to have done.

    Be well and just start slowly and work your way up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by acateam
    diamondback -
    that's a powerfully positive response for a guy in my position. thanks for taking the time.Your character comes through with every word.curious though - are your vertebrae fused? my surgeon, a great one, left my space open. I am proud to say he said my back muscles were plenty strong enough to hold it that way. I guess all that core work and training paid off, well maybe running was a bit of the cause too.
    I see him in two hours from now, the first time since the surgery. I have lots of questions for him.
    so what'd he say??

    //kim

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    I am doing great, thank you. I wanted to get my regimen going, but he said I am still healing-NUTS! But- he did say I DO have some disck left in there, and I have an inferior disk in the next lowest area.

    He of course says I should not run. But he says that to healthy people too.

    I would like to run-but less-and begin to ride-ride hard-and reach milestones.I was going to run a marathon damn it !

    Thanks Kim!


    Dan


    .

  23. #23
    The Grampster tlc20010's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    I reckon that a top runner can do a marathon in 2 1/2 hrs. Good club runners in 3+ and good fitness joggers in 4. It is that 4 hour mark you have to aim for as a Fitness or 3+ as a good club runner. Distance for this is the problem but a Flat Metric century- 65 miles on the road should be about right. If much elevation is there though, then 50 miles should suffice.
    No, no, no. I don't run any more and I love to cycle, but a century is nowhere near a marathon. Consider, the TdF was 22 stages in 24 days--the vast majority of them were more than 100 miles at very competitive paces. There is no runner in the world who could run a competitive marathon a day for three weeks. The marathon is much more grueling. I don't want to take anything away from doing a century or even a metric (I certainly love to brag whenever I manage those distances), but physically, they are nowhere near the feat that a marathon is. It may well be that the psychic satisfaction and the mental challenge may be similar, but physically, there is little comparison. IMHO.

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    tlc20010-It seems to be an interesting question. I asked because I was hopeful that I might be able to therefore parallel the anticipated exhilaration that I was about to get after completing the m-thon before I was sidelined with the back surgery.

    I guess it is best answered by a marathon runner/century,ultra cyclist. Did you run a full marathon ever? just curious. You surely didn't have to have run one to answer the question well. In fact I agree with the "grueling" part you mentioned. Even after my first half-thon I had to take a full week off and after I returned, I was running very slow and a lot less mileage for a three week buildup. I personally know marathoners that follow the race with two to four weeks completely off with mild crosstraining(bike).It is not the race that kills you, it is the intense weeks of preparation that does it.

    does a century do that to the body? I guess not. Which leaves me with two schools of thought-The marathon requires perhaps more training,sacrifice,and therefore the exhilaration and satisfaction is commensurate,but which may also mean injury, recovery,and repair - and the other thought is that cycling is sensible,moderate or extreme if you choose, less wear and tear,which may mean longevity - but what about the "accomplishment factor"?

    hey-This is an unswerable quetion perhaps-but its a fun one-it's pertinent to me in my psychological quandary right now, and plus-I'VE GOT NOTHING ELSE TO DO RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I AM FLAT ON MY BACK FOR AWHILE WITH A LAPTOP SITTING ON MY ABS THAT ARE SCREAMING FOR A HUGE CRUNCH WORKOUT! LOL!


    DAN

  25. #25
    The Grampster tlc20010's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acateam
    tlc20010-It seems to be an interesting question. I asked because I was hopeful that I might be able to therefore parallel the anticipated exhilaration that I was about to get after completing the m-thon before I was sidelined with the back surgery.

    I guess it is best answered by a marathon runner/century,ultra cyclist. Did you run a full marathon ever? just curious. You surely didn't have to have run one to answer the question well. In fact I agree with the "grueling" part you mentioned. Even after my first half-thon I had to take a full week off and after I returned, I was running very slow and a lot less mileage for a three week buildup. I personally know marathoners that follow the race with two to four weeks completely off with mild crosstraining(bike).It is not the race that kills you, it is the intense weeks of preparation that does it.

    does a century do that to the body? I guess not. Which leaves me with two schools of thought-The marathon requires perhaps more training,sacrifice,and therefore the exhilaration and satisfaction is commensurate,but which may also mean injury, recovery,and repair - and the other thought is that cycling is sensible,moderate or extreme if you choose, less wear and tear,which may mean longevity - but what about the "accomplishment factor"?

    hey-This is an unswerable quetion perhaps-but its a fun one-it's pertinent to me in my psychological quandary right now, and plus-I'VE GOT NOTHING ELSE TO DO RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I AM FLAT ON MY BACK FOR AWHILE WITH A LAPTOP SITTING ON MY ABS THAT ARE SCREAMING FOR A HUGE CRUNCH WORKOUT! LOL!


    DAN
    Hi Dan....

    First, I want to say that I really feel for you and your recovery. I had a knee replacement about a year and a half ago and I thought that I would never do anything again, no matter what the doctors said. I really hated the waiting to get started in rehab part. But when they finally let me go to PT, I decided that rehab was my full time job and really worked at it. I can tell that you will too. It will pay off in spades.

    As to the marathon vs. century. Most serious, nah semi-serious, bike riders could do a century tomorrow if they had the time. Same is not true of runners. Getting ready for a marathon, as you well know, is a long process and has to be done carefully. A century is just a long bike ride. There are people on these forums who do a century a week--in some cases a century on Saturday and Sunday. When you are on a bike, you are not asking your legs to support your mass. You can stop pedaling almost any time and still keep moving.

    Look, I'm 63 and have not run distance in nearly three decades. But I could get on my bike tomorrow (if the weather is decent and I had 7 or 8 hours) and ride a century. I've done it before, and I plan to make time to do it again before spring. With some regular training, I could probably cut an hour or so off that time. And there is nothing special or dedicated about me. Cycling is just easier and takes less work than running. So I am still wondering what the cycling equivalent of a marathon is. As for the accomplishment factor, Im not sure.

    I am sure that your computer appreciates being supported by your abs-that-want-to-work. For the time being, keep writing and well keep answering.

    Best,
    Tim

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