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Century vs. Marathon(26 posts)

Century vs. MarathonRoxy
Sep 19, 2001 7:49 AM
I've heard many times that cycling a century is equivalant to running a marathon.
Just wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth...any runners/cyclers out there that can make the comparison?
I'd be surprisedRich Clark
Sep 19, 2001 7:55 AM
Although I don't really know what it's like to run a marathon, because I couldn't do it if you gave me a week. Centuries are no problem for me.

I suspect that it's a more complex question than it first appears to be.

Compare the best & worst finishers times...MB1
Sep 19, 2001 8:12 AM
World record for the Marathon is about 2:05, worst times mostly around 8-10 hours. 100 miles about 3:20 for the very best pro racers, a slow century 10-12 hours. This indicates a single marathon is easier than a century.

Runners cannot repeat this effort day after day, cyclists can. Therefore recovering from a marathon is much harder than recovering a century.

Having done both fairly well, a marathon is harder.
re: Century vs. MarathonMaster of the Obvious
Sep 19, 2001 8:15 AM
How could it be? One you are running and the other cycling...stupid, stupid question. Apples/Oranges. That said, how do they configure triathlons...marathon, 100 mile bike ride, 10 miles swim...probbaly the same
Classic Triathlon Distances were set by drunk sailorsMB1
Sep 19, 2001 8:21 AM
Who combined three classic events on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu into one stupid event, then it took off. The Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles), the Waikiki Rough Water Swim (2.4 miles) and the Haliewa Sea Spree 'Round the Island bike race (113 miles). Shorter events started out as half Ironman or quarter Ironman distance efforts.

Never mind that the 113 mile bike race had always been a 2 day event. It had nothing to do with comprable efforts.
Hope I never feel the need to point out a "stupid" question (nm)Roxy
Sep 19, 2001 8:54 AM
No need to get nastyjtolleson
Sep 19, 2001 9:24 AM
Don't like the topic? Don't participate. Let's quit it with the insults on this board already.

Being both a runner and a cyclist, I think there is NO comparison. As most others here have said, the pain, recovery problems, and all-out grueling nature of marathons does not compare to centuries.

The average cycling hobbyist can ride a century; marathons are completed by a statistically more selective group of runners, and generally one or two a year is more than plenty. During the summer I ride 4-5 centuries and intersperse plenty of 70-80 mile training rides. This isn't even a close call.
Talking 'bout Stoopid.grzy
Sep 19, 2001 2:32 PM
You got the distance all wrong for the Ironman. 2.4S/112B/26.2R

And no it's not all the same - the 2.4 mile swim is the easiest part it only takes a decent swimmer about an hour.

You might want to check the facts and the mirror before you call someone stoopid.
sending grzy a vitual kiss! (nm)Roxy
Sep 19, 2001 3:05 PM
re: Century vs. MarathonWayne
Sep 19, 2001 8:19 AM
This has been discussed to death before, and the problem is while they're both aerobic activities they are still comparing apples and oranges because the muscle contractions are different.
So when you say cycling a century is like running a marathon what are you comparing?
1) The energy involved? Well if you exercise at 75% of you're VO2max for 4 hours running a marathon or doing a century or swimming, etc. you've used about the same energy.
So to answer this question you have to know how hard you're going (i.e. % of VO2max) and how long you're going. So energy wise, either one could be more demanding.
2) Recovery Time? This is where running a marathon is hands down more demanding. Everytime you hit the ground you're quads contract while lengthening (eccentric contraction). This is known to produce lots of muscle damage and soreness. Hence, people don't run marathons on back to back days (or even weeks). Elites maybe do 2 per year.
Conversely with cycling there are no eccentric contractions or impact forces, so you recover much faster. I would say any elite cyclist would have little trouble completing a week of centuries even at a high effort level (look at what the pros do).
A good marathon time might be 3 hours, a good century time might be 4 hours (working with other riders). Assuming equivalent work loads, you'd burn more energy cycling but you could get up and do it again the next day, whereas the marathon would cripple you for the better part of week in all liklihood.
A long winded answer to say you really can't compare the two.
You answer is too educated for most people to understandnestorl
Sep 19, 2001 9:59 AM
So the debate will go on....
re: Century vs. Marathongwilliams
Sep 19, 2001 8:29 AM
I have been a runner for almost 25 years, I completed one marathon in all those years, had to walk part of it, and it took me a month to recover. I have been doing serious biking, 5000-6000 miles a year, for about the last 5 years. I can probably easily do a century on any given weekend once I get in shape in late Spring. I have no problem going out and doing another 50+ mile ride the next day after a century. I think a Marathon is much harder, a lot more pounding, you don't stop for snacks or rests, you are not going to feel like doing much of anything the next day.

Marathon is way harder.....Len J
Sep 19, 2001 8:42 AM
from personal experience. Having run several sub 2:40 marathons and several sub 5:30 Centuries, I can tell you that the marathon took much more out of me than any of the centuries.

IMHO this is due to several factors:

1.)Pounding. Running involves much more cumulative body trauma than cycling (assuming no falls). The pounding your body takes in each stride of the 26+ miles is hard to describe to someone who has never done this.

2.)Aerobic requirement. IMHO the areobic requirement in the run is more than on the bike because in addition to the legs working the heart, you have the arms working the heart.

3.)Coasting. Assuming no paceline, you still can rest on the bike. It is much harder to coast running.

My experience and oponion only.

You are right about the coasting.MB1
Sep 19, 2001 8:47 AM
You can't coast runnung, it is called standing. I have done several centuries on fixed gear bikes, not being able to coast makes cycling much harder after a while.
maybe riding a fixed gear would be closer to running -NMTig
Sep 19, 2001 9:19 AM
Perhaps but it doesn't beat you up the way running does. nmMB1
Sep 19, 2001 11:12 AM
Sep 19, 2001 8:46 AM
I'd say a double century is closer to a marathon. Completing a century for a reasonably fit cyclist (I'm not talking extreme) is no big deal. You can do it again in another day or so. Don't know anyone who is willing to run another marathon in the same week. A challenging double seems to extract a similar toll on the body and requires training. Also bear in mind that you can only do a marathon one way - running with one foot infront of the other while a century can be a pretty casual affair with lots of rest stops. going full tilt and knocking down a century with out stopping may be a better comparison.
re: run another marathon in the same weekcyclopathic
Sep 19, 2001 1:28 PM
I was biking once on MTB and came across trail runner.
Really light built girl, blonde, she just won her first 100mi run and was preparing for another one.

Taking your 1 marathon = 1 double century would deduct to
100mi off-road run = 763.8 off-road ride.

** side note: I know only few people how rode quad century on road, and quite often 24hr race winners for some age groups end up with 340-370mi

You are right century can be easier if you take time coasting, in group, avg 12-14mph. If you're riding near LT, solo it is hard
re: Century vs. Marathonfishwheel
Sep 19, 2001 9:00 AM
They are equivalent in that they are a mark of acheivement for the sport. Your first century or first marathon is a rite of passage. That said a marathon is way harder. I reasonably fit person who is comfortable on a bike could ride (not race) a century and finish in decent time. A marathon takes more specific training and is much harder on your body. Don't get me wrong for fitness and caloric expenditure I'd go with cycling.

One more thing. Could we drop the smug can't compare answer that always fills replies to questions. The fact is you can compare apples and oranges, that's how we know they're different. Comparisons are richer when objects share characteristics, but it is a continuum from useful to nonsensical. What you cannot do is ask what makes a better apple, an apple or an orange.
well said, fishwheelRoxy
Sep 19, 2001 10:48 AM
I think you've summed it up.
Probably the reason I've heard the comparison is because each is a rite of passage for each sport.
A century is a cyclists 'marathon'.
re: Century vs. Marathondzrider
Sep 19, 2001 9:20 AM
I've done lots of both and the biggest difference is that I've only once done a century with the attitude that it was a 100 mile time trial. I've always done marathons that way. Riding 100 miles with the idea of of seeing how fast I could do it was harder because it took much longer. Riding a century without the pressure of speed feels much like the first 30 or 35 miles of a 50 mile run.
Whoa, thats a lot of running, you stud you. nmMB1
Sep 19, 2001 11:43 AM
re: Century vs. Marathonzero1
Sep 19, 2001 10:35 AM
i am 51 and have been running for around 19 yrs and i have just started back riding to relieve some of the stress on my old bones...i have done both and i really don't know how to comapre the two..since running and ridng both use different long as i have been running it would still take about 3 months of training to do a marathon...i always tell everyone its the training for a marathon that will just about kill you and not the thing about doing a century you can coast and running the only way to rest is to stop and sit down..i do think the sensation of finishing either is great!!!
I'd take a Century anyday...APG
Sep 19, 2001 1:28 PM
...IMHO cycling is much easier than running. Think about it... could you run a marathon every weekend? How about a Century? Answer is simple.

134.3 miles on bike = 1 marathonwink
Sep 19, 2001 2:24 PM
This is my position and I am sticking with it!
re: Century vs. MarathonJimF
Sep 20, 2001 5:29 AM
Well, I've never run even 5K, but I've ridden many centuries, and on my first and worst one, I dropped an avid recreational runner like a brick at about the 50 mile point. He was a lot "fitter" than I, so I guess the two activities are too different for me to make a valid comparison.