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Marathon vs. Century 'Performance Standards'

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Marathon vs. Century 'Performance Standards'

Old 06-08-14, 05:04 PM
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DaveLeeNC
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Marathon vs. Century 'Performance Standards'

I have a bunch more running in my background than cycling (heck - probably have more running miles under my belt than cycling miles). But I am now a biker (knees are as old as I am).

My favorite running event was always the marathon and the idea here was always the finish time. From my limited experience century riding is less about the time (not that it is irrelevant). And of course part of this is that the course affects finish times across a typical range of century routes more than it does across a typical range of marathon routes.

But still, what is the 'equivalent' of a 3 hour marathon in century riding (if there can be such a thing)?

Thanks.

dave
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Old 06-08-14, 05:49 PM
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I'd say that the closest cycling equivalent of a 3 hour marathon is a sub 1 hour 40k TT. Though the analogy breaks down because 40k TT is far less sensitive to excess body fat than a marathon. And I'm not sure about 3 hrs vs 1 hr equivalence (need to work out the numbers).

Marathon time probably correlates well with your FTP expressed in W/kg.
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Old 06-08-14, 07:12 PM
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I'd say 200km in 10 hours (or faster).

Randonneuring is a form of long-distance riding that sets a minimum average speed of 15km/h for events up to 600km. That's the time from start to when you finish and includes all breaks -- the clock doesn't stop ticking. You can go as fast as you like (although there are restrictions on the earliest opening time for checkpoints).

The threshhold distance for traditional randonneuring events is 200km (to be finished within 13-1/2 hours), and the sequence goes 300 (20 hours), 400 (~27 hours) and 600 (40 hours) after that.

I've never run a marathon and my legs aren't adapted to running except for distance of around 5km. But I would peg 200km as a comparable point. Anything under that is middle distance stuff in athletic terms.

The 200 also is a distance that attracted a lot of participants of all abilities, including racers. But the participation rate for the longer distances drops right away after the 300.

As an aside, there is a guy called Ken Bonner who lives in British Columbia, who is a legend in randonneuring circles. But his most famous effort was riding halfway through a 1200km randonnee (which must be finished in 90 hours), getting off his bike, running a marathon, then getting on his bike and finishing the 1200. This, well over the age of 50! He's also a tremendously nice guy.
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Old 06-08-14, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I'd say 200km in 10 hours (or faster).
I don't think you appreciate the difficulty of running a 3 hour marathon.

We just had a marathon here in San Diego last weekend. Out of 3,000 men and 2,200 women entering the event, 3 hour mark was hit by 50 men and 4 women. This is a mark of extreme aerobic fitness and 101% effort and randonneuring just does not quite compare. It has to be a time trial, either my proposed 40K or some sort of long hill climb.
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Old 06-08-14, 08:23 PM
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Running burns more calories then cycling. I feel more tired after doing a couple of 10 second running sprints then a couple of 10 second sprints on my bike. I think running a marathon is physically more demanding and more likely to cause heart attack then riding a century.
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Old 06-08-14, 08:48 PM
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4 hours or faster for a runner of that caliber if capable of bringing their talent to cycling.
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Old 06-08-14, 08:54 PM
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It seems like no one understood the premise in the OP.

For argument's sake I'd say the equivalent of a 3 hour marathon is a 5 hour century. You're talking about something that only people in the 98th or 99th percentile can do and I'd bet that the number of people who can average 32 kph for 5 hours is really quite low.
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Old 06-08-14, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
It seems like no one understood the premise in the OP.

For argument's sake I'd say the equivalent of a 3 hour marathon is a 5 hour century. You're talking about something that only people in the 98th or 99th percentile can do and I'd bet that the number of people who can average 32 kph for 5 hours is really quite low.
Yes, you are probably right.
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Old 06-08-14, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
I have a bunch more running in my background than cycling (heck - probably have more running miles under my belt than cycling miles). But I am now a biker (knees are as old as I am).

My favorite running event was always the marathon and the idea here was always the finish time. From my limited experience century riding is less about the time (not that it is irrelevant). And of course part of this is that the course affects finish times across a typical range of century routes more than it does across a typical range of marathon routes.

But still, what is the 'equivalent' of a 3 hour marathon in century riding (if there can be such a thing)?

Thanks.

dave

There is no equivalent.
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Old 06-08-14, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Running burns more calories then cycling. I feel more tired after doing a couple of 10 second running sprints then a couple of 10 second sprints on my bike.
You should probably try it on a geared bike I have no problem doing 400% FTP sprints on the bike, but I don't think I can push myself even close to 4x my steady running speed (which would require me to get close to 30 mph - my legs simply can't move so fast).
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Old 06-09-14, 03:07 AM
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
It seems like no one understood the premise in the OP.

For argument's sake I'd say the equivalent of a 3 hour marathon is a 5 hour century. You're talking about something that only people in the 98th or 99th percentile can do and I'd bet that the number of people who can average 32 kph for 5 hours is really quite low.
Very well understood the OP's question.

At 63 and a very poor swimmer and non-runner, I completed the 112 miles in 5:45 where Andrew Starykowicz did it in 4:02:17. My marathon walking/jogging was 5:30 where as A.S. was a 2:58:18. Given a century stand alone ride, I am sure a 5 hour time would be easily attained by myself and a wickedly fast ride by A.S.

My best marathon walking was 4:56 which is no where close to a 3 hour marathon, thus IMO, a 5 hour century would be slow for an athlete who can run a 3 hour marathon.
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Old 06-09-14, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
Very well understood the OP's question.

At 63 and a very poor swimmer and non-runner, I completed the 112 miles in 5:45 where Andrew Starykowicz did it in 4:02:17. My marathon walking/jogging was 5:30 where as A.S. was a 2:58:18. Given a century stand alone ride, I am sure a 5 hour time would be easily attained by myself and a wickedly fast ride by A.S.

My best marathon walking was 4:56 which is no where close to a 3 hour marathon, thus IMO, a 5 hour century would be slow for an athlete who can run a 3 hour marathon.
one needs to keep in mind that these things don't advance linearly. the effort required for a greater average speed on a century requires an exponential effort. So basically going from a five hour century to four hours is much, much greater of an accomplishment than going from a four hour marathon to three hour marathon.
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Old 06-09-14, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
one needs to keep in mind that these things don't advance linearly. the effort required for a greater average speed on a century requires an exponential effort. So basically going from a five hour century to four hours is much, much greater of an accomplishment than going from a four hour marathon to three hour marathon.
A 4 hour marathon is a cake walk. A 3 hour marathoner is, IMO, a pretty elite athlete. I'm thinking that a person at that level of achievement would have the determination and ability to train for a 4 hour century.
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Old 06-09-14, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
A 4 hour marathon is a cake walk. A 3 hour marathoner is, IMO, a pretty elite athlete. I'm thinking that a person at that level of achievement would have the determination and ability to train for a 4 hour century.
Well... a 3 hour marathon is not really an elite athlete thing considering many of my friends have succeeded in it and they are in the high amateur level. Although all of them are pretty small and lightweight but whatever.

But a 4hour century would require a person to ride 40km/h for four hours. Actually faster if there are any uphills. That would require 300watts. 300 watts is almost pro cyclist doped up FTP ground. At least if you generate 6watts per kilo and weight 60kg. For a bigger rider it might be possible but uphills are then more of a battle.

So considering 300watts is well into the real of FTP there's no way a normal amateur can push that for four hours. The term FTP is pretty much tied into the one hour max power so pushing that to 4? nope.

The two are just so different beasts since with cycling you have the exponential aero drag. Comparing those like "hour off in one is like an hour off in the second" is just silly.
One would actually need to see the power generated, or heart rates tied to tested zones, or anything numbers to make a valid comparison since the aero drag starts affecting cyclists so much worse than it will ever affect a runner.
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Old 06-09-14, 06:17 AM
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3 hrs marathon would roughly equate a 4 hrs century. We are trying to compare apples to oranges... Being a runner & a cyclist, this is my SWAG at OP's question.
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Old 06-09-14, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
It seems like no one understood the premise in the OP.

For argument's sake I'd say the equivalent of a 3 hour marathon is a 5 hour century. You're talking about something that only people in the 98th or 99th percentile can do and I'd bet that the number of people who can average 32 kph for 5 hours is really quite low.
I agree. When I was riding seriously, I would get into shape to knock out one five hour century a year. That is a tough but doable goal.
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Old 06-09-14, 07:52 AM
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I was involved with the Medical side of our local marathon for a couple of years...

The medical tent was bigger and better staffed than most community hospital ER's -- and by the end of the marathon it was very full and very busy...

At one point I transported a young lady and her 6 month old son to the ER where her husband had been shipped as a result of his 109 degree body temp. She didn't know if she would ever see him alive again (and there are many similar stories I could tell).

I know most people complete marathons without those problems -- but I still do not understand why anybody would do that to their body without some really good reason (like there was a million purse at the end or a tiger was chasing you)...

Athletic accomplishment is a good thing and benefits us in many ways. But at some point it changes over into athletic abuse and becomes a detriment to health and well being...
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Old 06-09-14, 08:01 AM
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I ran a 1/2 marathon once in about 2 hours. Trained hard for 10 months just to be able to accomplish that distance. When I crossed the finish line I had a new respect for anyone who could turn around and run that distance a 2nd time. I couldn't.

Never done a century either, but I've ridden about 1/2 of one. I was tired at the end of that ride too, but nothing like the 1/2 marathon.

In any event, I'm amazed by anyone who could do either with any degree of speed. No idea at what speed the two activities reach equivalency, but I know both are way faster than I could go. So I tip my hat to both.
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Old 06-09-14, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
It seems like no one understood the premise in the OP.

For argument's sake I'd say the equivalent of a 3 hour marathon is a 5 hour century. You're talking about something that only people in the 98th or 99th percentile can do and I'd bet that the number of people who can average 32 kph for 5 hours is really quite low.
I've done 24 marathons and quite a few centuries and I'd have to agree with this assessment. Of course the two sports can't compare directly, but I think this would be pretty close.

The miles on my bike are much easier than the miles on my feet. I can coast on my bike, I don't have to pedal on the downhills, and I can change position sitting or standing when my muscles get tired. I can't do that when I'm running, and the pounding my muscles take from running makes me much more sore after a marathon than after a century.
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Old 06-09-14, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
one needs to keep in mind that these things don't advance linearly. the effort required for a greater average speed on a century requires an exponential effort. So basically going from a five hour century to four hours is much, much greater of an accomplishment than going from a four hour marathon to three hour marathon.
Neither one is linear. Effort required goes exponential in both cases when you get close to the limit of human body. For a marathon, unless you're from Kenya or Ethiopia, the limit is somewhere around 2:10. For a half marathon it's 1:02. Speed is linearly related to power, and we could say that 1:02 half-marathon is something like 6 W/kg, 2:10 marathon is 5.7 W/kg for 2 hours, and 3:00 marathon is 4.1 W/kg for 3 hours.

4.1 W/kg would just about give you a 4 hour century under ideal conditions (tri bike, flat, no wind, no intersections, etc). It's, of course, a bit harder to do 4.1 W/kg for 4 hours instead of 3.

That would also suggest that my first proposal (sub 1 hour 40k TT) was too easy. You can do that by generating 4.1 W/kg on a tri bike just for 1 hour.

But you are right that the return on further effort in cycling is much less visible. Again using my favorite calculator Bicycle Speed (Velocity) And Power Calculator (I know that it's biased, but biases should mostly cancel out), 4.1 W/kg (good amateur level) at sea level gives you a 40k TT in 1:00, and 6.0 W/kg (talented pro level) gives you the same 40k TT in 0:52. (The actual U.S. record is 0:47:35, set at the elevation of 6200'.)

Last edited by hamster; 06-09-14 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 06-09-14, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
It seems like no one understood the premise in the OP.

For argument's sake I'd say the equivalent of a 3 hour marathon is a 5 hour century. You're talking about something that only people in the 98th or 99th percentile can do and I'd bet that the number of people who can average 32 kph for 5 hours is really quite low.
Originally Posted by CbadRider View Post
I've done 24 marathons and quite a few centuries and I'd have to agree with this assessment. Of course the two sports can't compare directly, but I think this would be pretty close.

The miles on my bike are much easier than the miles on my feet. I can coast on my bike, I don't have to pedal on the downhills, and I can change position sitting or standing when my muscles get tired. I can't do that when I'm running, and the pounding my muscles take from running makes me much more sore after a marathon than after a century.
Sorry, but this 63yo slowpoke who doesn't really train just can't agree with you.

32kph=19.884mph NOTHING spectacular about that speed for an easy century.

My Ironman 112 mile average including a 10 minute stop was 19.06mph and that was a relaxed effort because I still had the marathon to follow.
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Old 06-09-14, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
Sorry, but this 63yo slowpoke who doesn't really train just can't agree with you.

32kph=19.884mph NOTHING spectacular about that speed for an easy century.

My Ironman 112 mile average including a 10 minute stop was 19.06mph and that was a relaxed effort because I still had the marathon to follow.
Disagree all you want, it's a discussion and that's your right.

There may be nothing spectacular about a 20 mph avg over 5 hours but most people can't do it. Same with a 3 hour marathon, nothing spectacular but most people can't do it.

I also disagree that someone who can do a 3 hour marathon would necessarily have a good chance of doing a 5 hour or less century. Cycling requires a certain amount of strength combined with endurance that running doesn't tend to favor over longer distances. Take yourself for an example, quite fast on the bike, not just for your age, but slow on the run and swim by your own admission. Speed in one discipline does not beget speed in another.

Of course there are freaks of nature that can produce across multiple disciplines but those people are even rarer than those who are relatively strong in just one.
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Old 06-09-14, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy;16834120[B
]A 4 hour marathon is a cake walk.[/B] A 3 hour marathoner is, IMO, a pretty elite athlete. I'm thinking that a person at that level of achievement would have the determination and ability to train for a 4 hour century.
I respectfully disagree with your statement that a 4 hour marathon is a cake walk! NO marathon is a cake walk. A very small percentage of the population has ever completed a marathon. Compared to the elite athletes that win marathons in the just over 2 hours time frame, sure! But not to the average person. This is way off track to the OP, but anyone who completes a marathon, or a century, is worthy of some praise on worthy accomplishment.
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Old 06-09-14, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
Disagree all you want, it's a discussion and that's your right.

There may be nothing spectacular about a 20 mph avg over 5 hours but most people can't do it.
This is highly dependent on conditions. I lost count of the number of centuries I completed (should be close to 20 by now) but I never came even close to 20 mph average. To me 15 mph average moving speed over the course of a century is a good result. I did one with 17.4 mph average and that was with the help of a very favorable wind pattern and a paceline over half of the route. That's because I'm in an urban area with lots of stops and intersections, in a terrain where a century route with 5000' of climbing is considered "a fairly flat ride".

Take me to Iowa or rural Florida and put me on a triathlon bike, and I'll probably pull off a 20 mph average century without much difficulty.

This does not work the same way for marathons where courses are relatively flat and closed to traffic, aerodynamics is not an issue, and it's basically all about fixed energy cost per mile.

I also disagree that someone who can do a 3 hour marathon would necessarily have a good chance of doing a 5 hour or less century. Cycling requires a certain amount of strength combined with endurance that running doesn't tend to favor over longer distances. Take yourself for an example, quite fast on the bike, not just for your age, but slow on the run and swim by your own admission. Speed in one discipline does not beget speed in another.

Of course there are freaks of nature that can produce across multiple disciplines but those people are even rarer than those who are relatively strong in just one.
I would say that it's easier for someone who can do a 3 hour marathon to learn to do a 5 hour century, than vice versa. Running puts a lot of stress on legs and you need to prepare them gradually before you can run a marathon.
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Old 06-09-14, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
But a 4hour century would require a person to ride 40km/h for four hours. Actually faster if there are any uphills. That would require 300watts. 300 watts is almost pro cyclist doped up FTP ground. At least if you generate 6watts per kilo and weight 60kg. For a bigger rider it might be possible but uphills are then more of a battle.
Here's some good data on what it takes to do 40km/h / 25mph on a road bike. With aerobars, an aero road frame and deep section wheels you could probably get down to 240-250 watts. That assumes you can hold the aero position for 4 hours and you never stop to take a bathroom break. Solo it would be downright impossible without a full-on TT setup, pointy helmet and skin suit and even then it would be very hard outside of ideal conditions.

A 300 watt FTP is not that unheard of even among amateurs. Holding that power for 4 hours would require a 400+ watt FTP.
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