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  1. #1
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    Century compared to Marathon

    I am not at a point to even consider a century but want to ask the experienced ones here if you would equate a bike century to running a marathon? It seems to me to be a good analogy for the amount of training that it takes and overall fitness level one must attain.

    Greg

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    The trouble is that cycling and running are so different. In terms of absolute caloric expenditure, cycling is the "winner" hands down. Running is just so hard on the body that few people can run for the same amount of time that a decently trained cyclist can ride. IMO, the demands of the century in many ways exceed those of running a marathon. The average marathoner may discover that he/she is poorly prepared for the 5-7 (9? 11?) hours of exercise that a century requires.

    Having said that, a century cyclist can complete the distance at a significantly lower average heart rate than can a marathoner. The bike allows you to take it easy, relatively speaking, where the runner rapidly discovers that below a certain heart rate, he is no longer technically running. So the "beginning" marathoner may well find that his fitness is superior to that of the "beginning" century rider.
    Last edited by Six jours; 05-18-10 at 08:54 PM.

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    A bicycle is so much more efficient than running. I ran for years. Did dunno 7 or so slowish road marathons (high 3's). Some ultras as well, a 12 hour on the track 59 miles though (see slow runner).

    Then I took up cycling with that base- did 120 mile hilly rides solo in a little over 6 hours solo (still slowish). The feeling after a 100 mile + ride in no way compares to that after a 42 kmish Marathon.

    I'm guessing (because I can only extrapolate) that the cycling equivalent of the marathon distance for mere mortals on a reasonable course lies somewhere north of 200 miles.

  4. #4
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    For me, I can run and I can walk, and bicycle riding falls in between the two in terms of difficulty. So for me to run a marathon would be just about impossible. For me to walk it, no problem, just give me 8-13 hours or so and I'll git 'er done. But if I ride my bike in a century, I'm generally working harder than I am when walking.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  5. #5
    Member dr. spectrum's Avatar
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    It isn't all that hard, relatively speaking, to complete a century in a reasonable time while smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. (This is experience speaking here.) I'm not a runner but I seriously doubt you could say the same of a marathon.

  6. #6
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    There is no comparison. Running places entirely different stresses on the musculo-skeleto system, muchly including the feet and legs. I can do a century at the drop of a hat, but probably would not be able to go more than 5 miles running.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    See this discussion which includes three pages of comments on more or less this exact question: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...light=marathon

  8. #8
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    Somewhat depends on the person. I've done plenty of both, but find a century much easier than a marathon. But I work harder at a good time in the marathon than I do a solo weekend century done more leisurely. My daughter is a (barely) nationally-ranked sub-3-hour marathoner who finds even 30-40 mile bike rides daunting. I suspect if Joe Six Pack started from scratch, he'd be prepared for a century WAY before a marathon.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    There is no comparison. Running places entirely different stresses on the musculo-skeleto system, muchly including the feet and legs.
    What Rowan said.

    I agree that there is little comparison between cycling and running when it comes to any sort of distance.

    I've been running and cycling for 30 years now, and to me the two are TOTALLY different activities. Probably the only common factor is that your heart beats while you do either one!

    I run and ride because I love being outdoors and being active. But I always liked cycling better simply because I could stay out there longer than if I was running. I can easily hop on the bike and go on a two hour ride just for a lark... but a two hour run is a horse of a different color.

    And now that I'm closing in on 50 years old, I've found that I can't run every day. I used to get up 6 mornings a week and run for 45 minutes or an hour... but no longer can I do it that often. If I run more than about two consecutive days, my knees and hips begin to remind me that I'm not 21 any more.

    But cycling now... that's different. I can ride for an hour or two every single day and all is well. The lack of pounding on my joints is wonderful... no pain unless I do something stupid like mash a huge gear for too long. Mashing is rough on the knees.

    I still run, but these days I run enough to keep some form for the occasional 5K charity run. My serious aerobic time is spent on the bicycle.

    I really think that comparing a Marathon to any particular cycling distance is so subjective as to be futile.
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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    I'll just add it depends a lot on the century. I believe the Death Ride had a century option and was well named. Much harder than a marathon. Other extreme was as century at mile square park, yup 25 laps around the park and dead flat.

    The only 'organized' century (meaning entry fee) I ever did was the lighthouse century. It had highland and flat options. They started on a common course and overall about 60 miles were common course. For the common course part I was a stud, different story on the highland parts.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Playing hockey is much harder than cycling or running. Hockey is the toughest sport.

    You are dirt unless - you can play hockey for several hours.

    Marathons are for wimps - only hockey players know how to give it all. Cyclists are as tough as ice skaters.

  12. #12
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    Caveat: not a runner anymore, and never could run enough distance to do a marathon. IMO, it's apples and oranges. Running, you "hit the wall" at some point. Cycling, if you aren't adequately conditioned, you notice things getting more difficult around 65-70 miles. If you don't fuel running, you're done. On the bike, you eat, drink, rest a little and you can at least continue at an aerobic pace. In fact, unless you're really pushing it, you can (and to some extent must) eat throughout the ride to keep your strength up. Running, I doubt you'd be able to digest anything of real substance (again, I dunno... maybe runners have PB&Js at their rest stops, too), the only saving grace is that it doesn't take longer.

  13. #13
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    I did an MS150 at age 12 and again at 13. (in 1990/1 on a poorly kept 1973 Atala)

    At that age, I was also the back-of-the-pack mile runner in gym class. Seemed like only the 200+ pound kids were slower than I was.

    So to me, a Marathon seems insurmountable. A century, not so much.
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

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    For me a century is a piece of cake. I could not even imagine running a marathon. The only way for me to equate a century to a marathon would be if I were allowed to walk the marathon. In that case, they would probably be similar and take about the same amount of time to complete.

    I think I could walk a marathon at about a 3.5 mph pace and finish in about 7.5 hours. I could probably do a comfortable century at about 13.3 mph and also finish in about 7.5 hours. I'm sure that my body would feel the effects of the marathon much more than the cycling century. Walking/Running are weight bearing exercises and an individual would expend more energy with this type of exercise. I imagine that a cycling century would include segments that would include "coasting." That's basically taking a break. Running or walking... if you want to move forward, you have to propel yourself.

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    I used to run before I blew out my ankles and knees. My best distances were 14-18 miles, give or take. I wasn't competitive, it was all 8-10 minute miles.

    When I bought my new bike, I went out and blew through a 16.4 mile ride on day one with no conditioning for years. Maybe a one hour recovery time. I'm fat and I drink a lot.

    There is NO WAY I could possibly run a mile right now without winding up in the emergency room. No way.

    It's like comparing... no, it's just stupid. There is no comparison. Carpentry vs watching TV? I used to smoke cigarettes while I ran. Humped 50 pound packs up and down hills for hours. That is MUCH harder than riding a bike.

    I'll give you one exception. Climbing on a bike. It's harder to climb a steady incline mile after mile than it is to walk it, and kind of harder than running it. On the bike, every time you slack off those wheels are rolling you backwards. Running and walking, hills are kind of easier because your foot makes contact with the ground and you kind of don't have the same amount of impact. It's the opposite thing on the way down. Walking or running is MUCH more punishing on the way down than they are on the way up. Cycling... just hope you don't ruin your brakes on the way down.

    Honestly, biking is kind of girly compared to running. If I had a chance in hell of running I would go back to it right now. Getting on a bike is just not the same thing.

    If you can find a 26.2 mile continuous climb, maybe you could make half a case for biking. But probably not. Even if it's a hilly ride, only half of it could possibly be hilly. You'd run out of elevation at some point. Maybe a ride from sea level up to a coastal mountain range, that might be kind of in a similar category.

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    Those who would like their cycling to be harder could try riding faster. Cycling can be quite a bit easier than running. That doesn't mean it has to be.

  17. #17
    In the wind mercator's Avatar
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    I know a few people who run marathons and a lot of people who cycle centuries. Quite a few of the century riders think nothing of doing 10 or more a year. Of all the marathoners I know, only one does more than one a year, and he does two.

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    Senior Member TomT74's Avatar
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    I've done several centuries, but cannot run even one mile.

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    Cycling is one metric ****load easier than running, don't kid yourself.

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    that's an uninformed opinion if I've ever seen one. Try staying up with your local club "A" ride for a couple of miles and tell me which is easier then. The minimum effort required to cycle is considerably less than the minimum effort required to run, no doubt, but neither a century nor a marathon is a minimum effort.

    I used to be really impressed by marathon running until the grad students decided they were going to do a half marathon. There were a couple of them that basically faked their way through it with totally inadequate training. If they trained, I'm sure they could fake their way through a marathon.

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    it's nice that the forum software likes my posts so much that they double them up

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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    Try staying up with your local club "A" ride for a couple of miles and tell me which is easier then. The minimum effort required to cycle is considerably less than the minimum effort required to run, no doubt, but neither a century nor a marathon is a minimum effort.
    Amen. "Easy" isn't the word that comes to my mind when looking at riders at the finish of a cobbled classic, for instance. Again, cycling can be easy, but that isn't the same as saying that cycling is easy.

  23. #23
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    Let me ask you guys something. I just talked a lot of **** about how easy cycling is compared to running. I was thinking about doing a century in a day. My usual ride is 16.2 miles. If I did that five times, that would make 97.2 miles so I guess I could do a vestigial run up the driveway or something after that to finish it off. Would it be a legit century if I did it in five sets of 16.2 miles with an hour rest in between each trip? I know it's cheating to have five one hour rests during a century, but would it technically be complete? There are two 700' elevation gains in those 16.2 so it's at least not totally flat. I would have a total of ten 700' elevation gains over the century. A total of 7000 feet of elevation gain. I used to hike Mt Baldy once a week and that was about 5500 feet from Manker Flats to the summit, and I puked several times over the ten or fifteen times I did that hike.

    My normal time for the 16.2 ride is an hour and 20-30 minutes, so if I figured it at two hours with a one hour rest after each set I think I could possibly pull it off.

    Would that be a legit century that I could stand on and talk about here without looking too stupid? It would be a 7AM to midnight kind of a thing.

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    Randomhead
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    a Century is whatever you say it is, but if you ride 100 miles in a day most people would agree with you even if you stop 5 times. There are a couple of threads about this subject.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Area_Man View Post
    ...My normal time for the 16.2 ride is an hour and 20-30 minutes, so if I figured it at two hours with a one hour rest after each set I think I could possibly pull it off.

    Would that be a legit century that I could stand on and talk about here without looking too stupid? It would be a 7AM to midnight kind of a thing.
    If you want a feel for a century keep your butt on the bike. 97miles with 7k of climbing is a moderately difficult century. A good solo rider could do that in 5hrs or less. As unterhausen said, if you want a good comparison you've got to put some effort into it.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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