's Forum Archives - General

Archive Home >> General(1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 )

How does cycling compare to running?(22 posts)

How does cycling compare to running?tim
Jan 17, 2002 6:14 AM
For example, what distance and at what speed would you have to jog to get a workout approximately equivalent to a 30-mile/15-mph/80-rpm bicycle ride on a flat road?
I'd be grateful, if someone could point me to a good source of information about this topic.

re: How does cycling compare to running?Dave Hickey
Jan 17, 2002 6:50 AM
That's a good question. I would say it depends on what kind of shape your in for each sport. One of my resolutions this year is to do triathlon. I've been running 3 days/wk and cycling 4 days. I've never been a runner so it's taken awhile to build up endurance. When I first started running, 2 miles had my heart rate alot higher than cycling. I'm now running 6 miles in about 50-55 minutes(I told you I'm not a runner). For me, I'd get about the same workout for a 2 hour cycle ride vs a 1 hour run.
re: How does cycling compare to running?StmbtDave
Jan 17, 2002 10:50 AM
Can we make the assumption that the exertion level of running a marathon compares to a riding a bike century? So much depends on the terrain but when I was a runner my marathon (26 mi) time ranged from 3:30 to 4:00. Again depending on the terrain, my century time ranges from 5 hrs to 6 hrs. Taking the avg ride time of 5.5 hrs divided by the avg running time of 3.75 hrs I get a ratio of about 1:1.5. Does that relate to your question?
Don't agree with ratio.Len J
Jan 17, 2002 2:06 PM
I have run a 2:26 marathon, by your measure I should be able to do 100 miles in 3:39, I don't think so. I couldn't average 27.4 MPH for an 100 miles if my life depended on it., & I don't think I could have done it when I ran the 2:26.

Does this make sense?breck
Jan 17, 2002 7:01 PM
The World Record on the Track:
One Hour Bike is approx. 56.4Km [Boardman]
One Hour Run is approx.. 21.1 Km [Barrios]

The Bike divided by the run = 2.7 Factor

This may be a good approximation or not for efforts within the runners capacity.

3.0 is typically the round number given, Bike Vs Run for the masses.

Other Notes:
Sports physiologist typically state that biking helps running more than running helps biking if you do both sanely ...ha ha.

My take:
All runners can bike "pretty good" but most bikers cannot run "pretty good", or most likely won't as one trip around the track is enuff! Efficiency in either is only gained by long hours in the sport in any event and most seem to have great talent in only one or the other, Kenny Souza & other bi-athletes being the exceptions.

Both Len and me have done 100+ mile weeks running on the paved roads and have suffered for it. A factor of 3.0 or 300 miles biking on the road would be very do-able for both of us i would suspect. Have averaged 194 mountain miles per week over 18 months on the roads here at about 4% ave. grades back at 53 yrs. old, so? ...who kah-knows.

Damn, that's smoking fast . . .js5280
Jan 18, 2002 9:36 AM
That's about a 5:30/mile on average! I'd dial it up on the treadmill but I'd probably collaspe and go shooting off the end after a few minutes.
Thanks.............Len J
Jan 18, 2002 10:04 AM
my memory is that the real hurting was at around 23 miles when people were throwing in sub 5 minute miles to try to break up a group. Of course I was younger then and memory could be distorted by time. It's just like a bike race, you are always assessing (Based on perceived effort), the balance between hanging on, how much race is left & your own estimate of what you can endure. The split second mental breaks late in a race, always determine the winner.

Century vs Marathonjagiger
Jan 17, 2002 8:38 PM
Here's where comparing miles gets sketchy for me & doesn't really tell the whole story. I've completed 10 marathons & my 1st Century last year. The Century was a lot easier by far & it didn't leave me feeling half as spent. Maybe it's the eating on the ride that prevents you from "hitting the wall" which probably just as well. I didn't find a "wall" but who needs that anyway.
Pretty slowly. Use a heart rate monitor to compare.dzrider
Jan 17, 2002 8:01 AM
It's hard to make a formula because a decrease in your level of effort while running slows you a whole lot more than it does cycling and there is no running version of tucking and rolling down a big hill.

When young and fit running 8 miles in an hour felt like riding 20 miles in an hour. Twenty years later I live in a hillier area and running 6 miles in an hour feels like riding 17 miles in an hour.
Calories Burnedjagiger
Jan 17, 2002 8:41 AM
I'd say that it really depends on your level of fitness & ability at either. I've heard a range of numbers from either 1:2 to 1:4 which is miles run to miles on the bike. I personally find it closer to 1:2, but not exactly. If you are just starting out it might be hard to compare.

An interesting thing is that faster biking burns more calories. However with running the faster you travel, the less you burn?! This seems rather strange....probably gravity & overcoming inertia (sounds like my running these days). If you have running specific questions drop me a line at
Another good site to look at isRhodyRider
Jan 17, 2002 9:29 AM
Calories Burnedallervite
Jan 17, 2002 12:58 PM
I must have misunderstood you. You are not saying that the faster speed at which one runs the less calories they burn total?
Fast Running & Caloriesjagiger
Jan 17, 2002 8:50 PM
Yes, according to the stuff I read faster running takes less energy. Possibly this is because you have to either be in better shape to run faster or have better genes which naturally allows you to run more efficiently & faster.
For example, if you're out of shape & 10 pounds overweight, I think it would take more effort than not.
re: How does cycling compare to running?RayBan
Jan 17, 2002 9:42 AM
I find that running is a very demanding and VERY efficient form of aerobic exercise. Your heart rate will run higher when running but thats because the activity relies on more of your body during exercise. Its actually a GREAT form of cross training. The down side is higher risk of injury and your running shoes are not drooled over by your riding buddies.
another reasonKEN2
Jan 17, 2002 9:58 AM
Another reason that HR is higher in running for a similar effort is that your entire body is suspended in cycling (same in swimming). In running you are literally lifting your entire body weight off the ground with every footfall... not so in cycling/swimming.
Jan 17, 2002 1:26 PM
I would give a much higher ratio then any of the posts above. I run and ride, by the way, and I do both competitively. For me a flat 30 mile ride at 15 mph is a very easy ride and would equal a very short easy run. For me a Century ride at moderate pace does not even come close to a marathon at a moderate pace. Heart rate is not a good indicator for reasons that some of the posts above point out. Personaly, an hour run equals at least 3 on the bike. However, I think you tend to tire at an exponentialy faster rate while running. Therefore a marathon would be equal to a much greater ratio than 3-1. These are my personal subjective observations.
I agree....Len J
Jan 17, 2002 2:08 PM
Trying to run a marathon like you ride a timetrial (hovering aroud LT, is much harder effort. I agree that you tire exponentially.

Exercise physiology answer (geek alert)theBreeze
Jan 17, 2002 3:28 PM
According to my MET tables, cycling at 14-16 mph is about 10 MET of work, and comparable to running at 6 MPH or a 10 minute mile. To get the caloric cost of an exercise take the MET value, multiply by 17.5 (you don't want to hear the explaination why right now), multiply by your body weight in Kg, then multiply by the time spent at the activity.

An easier way is to take a previous suggestion and get a heart rate monitor.
If I remember correctly,Jon
Jan 17, 2002 3:48 PM
Chris Carmichael answered this question when he was posting programs and answering questions
on the Bicycling website about a year and a half or two years ago. I think his answer was somewhere
in the neighbourhood of 2.5 : 1, based on both energy cost and recovery times. The problem is
the activities don't parallel one another in terms of mechanical efficiency, impact on joints
and muscles, and work output (METS or Watts) relative to speed. Obviously, running exacts a
much higher cost in recovery terms.
Ignore the speculation - here's some answersKerry Irons
Jan 17, 2002 5:27 PM
A 150 lb. runner will burn around 100 calories per mile. Within reason, this is independent of running speed (walking, jogging, or running, but not sprinting). Cycling at 15 mph is around 20 calories per mile. Therefore the ratio is 5/1 but the "runner" is actually walking casually at 3 mph. Riding at 20 mph burns 30 calories per mile, making the ratio 3.3/1 with the "runner" now up to a 6 mph jog. Take it up a notch (!) to 24 mph, and you're burning 40 calories per mile on the bike and the runner is going 8 mph (a 3:30 marathon) and the ratio is now 2.5/1. All of this is somewhat approximate, because you can't really compare the exercise. Cycling is so much easier on your body that you can contemplate riding 8 hours a day, day after day, but you likely could never do that running.
Jan 18, 2002 9:02 AM
An important factor is implied in this valuable post--but not stated. That is, calories burned per mile bicycling is much more influenced by mph/windspeed and direction, because of the wind resistance factor, than is running. Most of us don't run fast enough for wind resistance to be much of a factor, unless there is a powerful wind associated.

I think many of the variability of ratios given here (bicycling:running, calories burned) is due to assumptions made about higher or lower bicycling speed. The resistance and caloric burn go up exponentionally with the apparent wind resistance acting on the bicycle and rider.
A small aside ...breck
Jan 18, 2002 8:31 AM
...slightly off topic

The following observations are not meant to be definitive & is/are very limited because of the limitations of email, real-time parameters, etc. A live round table coffee discussion would work out the kinks better with all interested parties present ....but will throw into the mix as there are other diffs. than calories burned, etc.

Too many articles were written in Runner's World on how to run the 26.2 mile Marathon on only 10 miles per week. The 'old' formula of training 1/3rd the distance to be 'raced' per day was no longer in vogue after about 1978. So 'distance runners' dropped from the 'required' 60 mile per week down to typically 30-40 miles per week, many less. The pop Bike Rags ditto sim-to training, etc. proclamations at some point in time. In those old days runners dropped out early if their bio-mechanics were not practically faultless.

Endurance training requires that you spend enuff hours running on the roads or riding in the saddle to cause the cardiovascular system to "burn" fat stored throughout the muscles required for the event. "Boinking" typically represents simply you ran out of gas due to early depletion of stored "on-demand" Carbo energy reserves & the Fats did not kikk in. No one fasts any more to help the process along, as was once popular.

The way organized 'foot race running' is different from 'road bike racing' is that running is an individual sport and biking is a team sport. Running speeds are slow and wind drag is not a factor, nor is there strategy to 'work' for the leader. Running speeds up and down hills are closely matched, esp. on very steep hills, and constant effort is required throughout the run . Bike speeds up and down hills can vary by as much as a factor of 10 & effort required varies considerably from full effort to practically no effort atall.

In the mountains the running foot rotation around the ankle drops noticeably up-hill & raises down-hill, causing different calf/ leg muscles to come into play; body weight is a big factor; Biking, regardless of road angle, the foot/ ankle rotation is pretty constant [relative to running] and so leg tiring and body weight is less of a factor than in running; the bike supports you throughout the event.

Bikers tend to be heavier, not a big deal on the bike as you have the gears. In running the heavier you are the more your foot landing is towards the heel. As you pick up running speed the foot strike moves forward till you're practically on your toes sprinting. All biking "foot strike" is more dependent on the shoe cleat & sole stiffness, and is fairly constant through out the ride. Long distance running is influenced by stomach muscle strength. With weak stomach muscles, as you tire your form goes causing more tiring, poorer form, etc., repeat till you stop and walk. No walking on the bike!:)

My strategy [at age 59] is to put in the 40 minute trail runs [soft surface] every third day and off load the residual fitness to the road or mountain bike the remainder days of the week. No longer use a watch or bike computer so cannot give hard numbers, etc.

Unlike biking, most running Forums are typically Track Club forums such as, the San Diego Track Club. Anyone can join & just show up and 'race', typically about 4 local races the week end through out the year; no Cats other than age; requires only togs and shoes[or not] & all start together, takes very little of your total time. True Bike racing is a turn-off to most as the logistics required & the Card, etc., & requires more travel & takes most of the day depending on the Cat start times; and the bike of course.

I have buds who are pure bikers and buds who are pure runners and mix-n-match, ages 30 thru 70. There is always this friendly argument amongst us Bike V Run, etc. For conversation it's much easier to run together; for participation it is much easier to bike together. Regardless, the one thing we share in common is to putting in the miles and the "need" to do it.

It may seem odd but running shoes are the only "equipment" topics amongst runners, which are equivalent to bike tires on the bike forums. In the who-cares Cat, My fav runner was the Australian Ron Clarke & my fav biker remains a toss up between Irish Sean Kelly & the still racing ol' Siberian Andre Tchmil.

cheers all,