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Cycling equivalents to running 10km, half, and full marathon.

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Cycling equivalents to running 10km, half, and full marathon.

Old 04-04-22, 01:11 AM
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Cramic
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Cycling equivalents to running 10km, half, and full marathon.

When I was first getting into running I gave myself a number of targets: sub-40min 10km, sub-90min half marathon, and sub-3hr marathon.

Are there road cycling equivalents to these goals? Not necessarily identical, but are there common distances and associated times people aim for?

I've asked a couple of cycling friends, who are also keen runners, and they were somewhat stumped.

Thanks!
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Old 04-04-22, 03:49 AM
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I think time trials are as close as you get with the 40km TT being the most standardized. Aerodynamics make mass start racing quite different between cycling and running.
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Old 04-04-22, 04:35 AM
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These are you against your own clock and someone will have to suggest times but Id say:
40 km
Metric Century
Century
(Could add double century but Id say thats getting into the ultra distance events)

All could be done solo or in a group. A group can draft so should be faster. So two time goals may be appropriate.
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Old 04-04-22, 05:38 AM
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There are some times I have seen thrown around as goals/benchmarks, but they are really dependent on terrain and group vs solo. So PLEASE take this with a grain of salt...

The two I think of are:

1. A sub-1 hour time for a 40Km/25 mile Time Trial. This is SOLO.

2. A sub-5 hour century (100 miles), typically done with a group.
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Old 04-04-22, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
There are some times I have seen thrown around as goals/benchmarks, but they are really dependent on terrain and group vs solo. So PLEASE take this with a grain of salt...

The two I think of are:

1. A sub-1 hour time for a 40Km/25 mile Time Trial. This is SOLO.

2. A sub-5 hour century (100 miles), typically done with a group.
This sounds spot on. many eons ago I was a sub 2:50 marathoner (several) with pr 2:48 and a few seconds, 10K pr was a few ticks under 36:00 and never slower than 36.5 minutes (lost count of how many I ran but a lot) 17 minute 5k's etc. my 40K time trails were all around 58 minutes and did multiple sub 5 hour centuries so for me any way that is a good correlation between running and cycling. I do know I recovery was so much nicer cycling tho. I could do back to back centuries or even double centuries and it would take a couple weeks to get over a marathon..
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Old 04-04-22, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Cramic View Post
When I was first getting into running I gave myself a number of targets: sub-40min 10km, sub-90min half marathon, and sub-3hr marathon.

Are there road cycling equivalents to these goals? Not necessarily identical, but are there common distances and associated times people aim for?

I've asked a couple of cycling friends, who are also keen runners, and they were somewhat stumped.

Thanks!
I think for tri the idea is assuming a TT/tri bike and is 4.3x. For "draft legal" sometimes or duathlon the ratio is more of 3.0x.

So a common duathlon is:
5k, 30k, 5k

Common 1/2 Ironman:
56.2 bike 13.1 run, 13.1 x 4.3 = ~56.2

IMO, that's the best "physiological" equivalent to the demands on the body. But they don't equate to race distances other than in multisport events.

In respect to "race distances", the bike versions are track distances of 3km, 4km, then open road time trial distances of 10mi, 25mi, and in the UK 50mi TT's.

Common "goals" for the bike equivalents are:
-10mi: break 30min, break 25min, break 20min
-25mi: break 60min, break 30mph
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Old 04-04-22, 07:14 AM
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There is no cycling equivalent to a marathon because I could never run a marathon yet I could ride 100mi, 150mi, or even 200mi if absolutely needed in one go.
Simple as that.



#runningisthedevil
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Old 04-04-22, 08:20 AM
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As both a runner and a cyclist, you really can't compare the 2. Maybe if you were strictly riding a single speed. Take the gears away and it becomes a lot harder time/effort wise. The type of terrain on the route is so important. Same for the individual doing the efforts.

Since this will eventually become a pissing contest between running and cycling, here's what I think:

Aerobically, swimming is way harder than the other 2 for me. You have your breathing limited(compared to the other 2) and you're flailing away with all of your body. It's low impact, but requires more effort than the other 2.
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Old 04-04-22, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Since this will eventually become a pissing contest between running and cycling, here's what I think:
Aerobically, swimming is way harder than the other 2 for me. You have your breathing limited(compared to the other 2) and you're flailing away with all of your body. It's low impact, but requires more effort than the other 2.
Truth. On a related note, I need to look into uniathlons. Bike races where everyone is celebrated and congratulated on finishing...actually thats just a local gravel race.

Also, #swimmingisthedevil
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Old 04-04-22, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Truth. On a related note, I need to look into uniathlons. Bike races where everyone is celebrated and congratulated on finishing...actually thats just a local gravel race.


Also, #swimmingisthedevil

That's what I do endurance sports for. Get to the finish and enjoy the day. I am strictly back of pack. Was a good run and jump/fast twitch athlete BITD, but I'm a terrible endurance athlete. Father time and eroding skills push you out of the other sports, and you eventually turn to endurance sports. I actually enjoy it more now because of low expectations. I have to eat humble pie all the time. 2 weekends ago, I ran a half marathon. The leader/winner of the full marathon passed me as I was crossing the finish line! That's always hard on the ego. He was around my height, but probably 60-70 lbs lighter. Even If I was in the best shape I could be in, he'd still be 50 lbs lighter. If you looked at our effort related stats for the runs, I'm guessing they wouldn't be that different except for the heart rate. That's what I tell myself, anyway.
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Old 04-04-22, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Cramic View Post
When I was first getting into running I gave myself a number of targets: sub-40min 10km, sub-90min half marathon, and sub-3hr marathon.

Are there road cycling equivalents to these goals? Not necessarily identical, but are there common distances and associated times people aim for?

I've asked a couple of cycling friends, who are also keen runners, and they were somewhat stumped.

Thanks!
The closest is that a 42 min 10K run is occasionally cited as roughly equivalent to a 1-hr 40K TT.

A rough rule of thumb is that to run X meters/sec on a firm flat surface takes about X watts/kg. This varies across individuals in their running economy and their gross metabolic efficiency but across individuals it's not bad. Converting watts/kg into cycling speed on a similarly firm flat surface is harder because, unlike running, the relationship between speed and power isn't linear (it's cubic, roughly).

Here are some splits from a 3-55-15 duathlon. Note in particular that the correlation between 3k run and 15k is 0.88, so the correlation between the runs and the cycling leg of ~0.77 isn't bad. The point here is that you can make an estimate of 10k running time and relate that to something like 40k cycling time over a sample of athletes who do both activities.

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Old 04-04-22, 09:55 AM
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imo, an equivalent to a runner's target might be a cyclist's power output to time spent. Distance & time targets for a person riding a bicycle has too many environment variables to contend with outside. If you were indoors (trainer, rollers, alike) then the distance with time could become an option to use as a target.
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Old 04-04-22, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
As both a runner and a cyclist, you really can't compare the 2. Maybe if you were strictly riding a single speed. Take the gears away and it becomes a lot harder time/effort wise. The type of terrain on the route is so important. Same for the individual doing the efforts.

Since this will eventually become a pissing contest between running and cycling, here's what I think:

Aerobically, swimming is way harder than the other 2 for me. You have your breathing limited(compared to the other 2) and you're flailing away with all of your body. It's low impact, but requires more effort than the other 2.
The limited breathing puts swimming in another world.

The impact on your joints puts running in another world.

The sitting down puts cycling in another world.
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Old 04-04-22, 11:08 AM
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And even in the "sub-5 hr 100mi ride", there's the additional variable of total ascent. Doing a sub-5 in FLA as opposed to in the Northeast US, or Colorado, is a different thing.

Last edited by Riveting; 04-07-22 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 04-04-22, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
There are some times I have seen thrown around as goals/benchmarks, but they are really dependent on terrain and group vs solo. So PLEASE take this with a grain of salt...

The two I think of are:

1. A sub-1 hour time for a 40Km/25 mile Time Trial. This is SOLO.

2. A sub-5 hour century (100 miles), typically done with a group.
I'd say the first option is significantly more difficult than the second.
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Old 04-05-22, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
The closest is that a 42 min 10K run is occasionally cited as roughly equivalent to a 1-hr 40K TT.
I got into a friendly argument with a guy on Slowtwitch who claimed duathlon 3:1 ratio had to do with equalizing the metabolic costs of run/bike. He claimed to have some kind of link to USAT. I disagreed with him because metabolic cost ignores physics of time gain running being largely linear, and time gain on the bike being very non-linear. You can measure "run power" these days. I found one of the super popular run scientist guy's pace/power calculator and then worked the math out on how long you would need in the bike leg to make time gain/loss on power differences in each pay out fairly. The 3:1 ratio wound up being pretty BS. It took even more than the triathlon 4.3:1 ratio to even out. Making the duathlon almost largely a runner's race with an annoying bike ride tossed in.

In other words, making 25w more in the run got you a LOT more time gain than 25w more in the bike.

As to the above, I don't train running "much" compared to bike and I have my run threshold set based on 10k distance at about 7:05/mi. My 40k TT time is a bit under 55min.

I do feel racing a 10k feels more similar to a 40k ride. You feel like you're easing into the pain a lot more than you do for a shorter 5k run or 10mi TT bike. I just detest those distances personally as it's just all teeth grit the whole time. A 40k TT sure does suck longer than a 10mi TT, but you ease into it a lot longer pain wise. Like the "boiling a frog slowly" phrase.
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Old 04-05-22, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Cramic View Post
When I was first getting into running I gave myself a number of targets: sub-40min 10km, sub-90min half marathon, and sub-3hr marathon.

Are there road cycling equivalents to these goals? Not necessarily identical, but are there common distances and associated times people aim for?

I've asked a couple of cycling friends, who are also keen runners, and they were somewhat stumped.

Thanks!
Time trialing for distances "equivalent" to those running distances are uncommon. In the USA at least, the longest TT is typically 40 km and there are not many of them. I believe there are a total of three (3) held this year within 200 miles of NYC, for instance. I have looked because this old bag of bones would like to try to break 1 hour on my upright TT bike, I could break 50 minutes on my recumbent but that shows how much aero comes into play with bicycles. Centuries and double centuries are usually group start rides rather than races and might be the closest comparison. A 5 hour flat century with a group is easy, but 5 hours solo in moderate terrain much less so. The World Ultra Marathon cycling association keeps records. The best outdoor road 100 mile and 200 mile times are held by RAAM winner Christoph Strasser in 3:32 and 7:08 or thereabouts. I remember seeing one of his workouts, you know how many of us do 2 x 20 minutes at 90-95% of threshold? His workout was 6 x 20 minutes at gulp 390-395 watts, IIRC.

A sub 3 hour marathon effort is probably closer to something in between a 9-9 1/2 hour Double and 4 hour Century on easy/moderate terrain on a fast road bike (TT bars). Lance's best NYC Marathon time was 2:46 and there is little doubt he could break 4 hours solo on a century.

I tried to make a similar comparison from cycling to ultra fast distance hiking and ultimately realized it was impossible due to aerodynamics for cycling and the benefit of descending fast without pedaling whereas in mountain hiking, the descent can be more difficult on the body than the ascent and rugged terrain itself slows you down. A 20-25 mile walk on a trail feels like a century ride but 20 miles in difficult terrain with a pack feels worse than a double.

Note: My estimation is based on difficulty and stress on the body....not the physics of time and distance.

https://www.ultracycling.com/individual-records

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Old 04-05-22, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
I got into a friendly argument with a guy on Slowtwitch who claimed duathlon 3:1 ratio had to do with equalizing the metabolic costs of run/bike. He claimed to have some kind of link to USAT. I disagreed with him because metabolic cost ignores physics of time gain running being largely linear, and time gain on the bike being very non-linear. You can measure "run power" these days. I found one of the super popular run scientist guy's pace/power calculator and then worked the math out on how long you would need in the bike leg to make time gain/loss on power differences in each pay out fairly. The 3:1 ratio wound up being pretty BS. It took even more than the triathlon 4.3:1 ratio to even out.
Was that guy saying 3:1 ratio in time or in distance?

Elsewhere I've argued that in terms of distance the multiplier is likely somewhere in the range of 2.5:1 to 3.5:1. That is, if you were handicapping a runner/cyclist race, how long should the cycling race be so that the times are roughly equivalent?

Last edited by RChung; 04-05-22 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 04-05-22, 03:17 PM
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Grab a computer for the bicycle that supports having a power meter & start setting personal goals based on your age group of similar body composition.

To devote the time, effort, & money to do long rides means it leaves nothing for anything else. Taking care of/raising a family? nope. Full-time student/career? nope. Do normal activities with friends? lol wut..

If the only goal is to make cycling define your character, well then that is all the flavor you'll want to taste. I'd rather be a slow 2-wheeled turd that enjoys many aspects of life. No one but i cares about my cycling achievements.
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Old 04-05-22, 03:30 PM
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I am always astonished how accomplished and bright nearly all randonneurs are from my acquaintance, despite troll's opinion. A similar pattern can be seen with Ironmen. It is not hard to find 10-15 hours/week to train. I did back in the day travelling with a Bike Friday getting up at 4 am before heading to the work location. Many are able to be fit on far fewer hours.
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Old 04-05-22, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
Was that guy saing 3:1 ratio in time or in distance?

Elsewhere I've argued that in terms of distance the multiplier is likely somewhere in the range of 2.5:1 to 3.5:1. That is, if you were handicapping a runner/cyclist race, how long should the cycling race be so that the times are roughly equivalent?
Distance.

Issue is that 25w faster over two 5k runs per the runner power pace calculator is more time saved than 25w more over the 30k bike leg in a duathlon.

So:
300w run and 325w bike is slower in a 5k/30k/5k than a 325w run and 300w bike.

I made a little Excel sheet to prove it out.

Basically if you can run 5min miles you can really suck at the bike and win but the bike cannot use mammoth watts to makup the same time. Because the faster a cyclist goes the more power it takes and the less time they gain.

Pace power calc here: Couzens
https://alancouzens.com/blog/Run_Power.html
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Old 04-05-22, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Distance.

Issue is that 25w faster over two 5k runs per the runner power pace calculator is more time saved than 25w more over the 30k bike leg in a duathlon.

So:
300w run and 325w bike is slower in a 5k/30k/5k than a 325w run and 300w bike.

I made a little Excel sheet to prove it out.

Basically if you can run 5min miles you can really suck at the bike and win but the bike cannot use mammoth watts to makup the same time. Because the faster a cyclist goes the more power it takes and the less time they gain.

Pace power calc here: Couzens
https://alancouzens.com/blog/Run_Power.html
Run your model on a very hilly and technical course, and the results skew even more.

Lots of cyclists ride a 100 miles on both a Saturday and a Sunday. How many runners have ever run a Marathon two days in a row? OP's question does not have an easy answer and in my view, there isn't one if considering difficulty (stress on the body and mind). Cycling is way easier.
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Old 04-05-22, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Distance.

Issue is that 25w faster over two 5k runs per the runner power pace calculator is more time saved than 25w more over the 30k bike leg in a duathlon.
That's why in that link I said the faster the runner, the lower the equivalent distance; the slower the runner the longer the equivalent distance. Just saying "3x distance" is a ballpark. I showed a range and how to refine the ballpark.

[Edited to add:] Just to clarify, you're right that equal increases in power don't produce equal gains, but you can see that's because the actual relationship is nonlinear.

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Old 04-06-22, 06:14 AM
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In my club some of the younger (40 - 60 yr range) and stronger riders have targeted 20 mph in a 5-rider group for a relatively flat Century. I think it was 3 men and 2 women and they made it.
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Old 04-06-22, 09:29 AM
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As a lifelong runner of 43 years and cyclist there is not way to really compare running and cycling. Running pounds your body and that takes a toll. Cycling does tax the heart and lung system and over time you can burn more calories or make some type of comparison in the amount of work, but running pounds the body. No cycling event I have done comes near a marathon at race pace. I can ride 100 miles for days in a row if I had to and keep eating and sleeping, but running 26 miles days in a row are not possible for most anyone. Even elite marathons cannot run 2 marathons on 2 days and still be fast. If they survived it would be at a huge price. I must say though that for me a very long climb will get my heart rate as high or higher than running.

I actually wish I could run more now but runner's dystonia is causing me problems. Cycling I am fine.
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