The cycling equivalent of a marathon?

steverob

Veteran
Location
Buckinghamshire
This discussion has been split from the RideLondon2020 thread. Mods.

With cycling it's even less understandable because a 100 mile ride is - from my experience at least - not in the same league as a marathon in terms of physical challenge. It's a piece of piss by comparison.
A little off topic for the RideLondon thread, but this has always been something I've wondered - what in people's opinion IS the cycling equivalent to a marathon?

I've never been a keen runner, but did it from time to time; mainly a something to do to keep fit when I couldn't ride, or when I'd foolishly entered myself in an event that I needed to train for; and was capable of running 5K without needing planning and could do a 10K in comfortably under an hour if I gave myself 4-5 weeks to prepare. I've since quit for various reasons, but while I was still running I figured that one day I'd build my fitness up and eventually try a marathon, but that I'd give myself at least 12 months to get to that stage by slowly going up through the distances. And I know plenty of people who were much less fit than me who have done similar, in fact some of them started from zero - e.g. couch to 5K.

Now for cycling, while many on this forum might look at 100 miles as being nothing special, I'll admit that even though I consider myself a keen cyclist, I've only done a century twice and both of those were in "events" - RideLondon 2018 and Tour of Cambridgeshire 2019 (did RL 2015 but only got to do 93 miles, though would have been able to manage the full 100 had the full route been open).

So given the couch to 5K comparision for runners, do you think a member of the general public could build themselves up to a century in less than a year if all they were currently capable of doing currently was a pootle down the shops? Or maybe a fairer question would be to ask someone who was already quite fit, but didn't do any cycling, how far do you think they could manage given 6 months (the time between the ballot draw and the event) to concentrate just on the bike - 100 miles, 120, 150, 200?

Other ways of looking at it - given that a century ride is 3.814 times the marathon distance, do we feel that running is almost four times harder than cycling on the body? If not, what should the multiplier be? e.g. if you think it's five times harder, then the cycling equivalent would be about 130 miles, but only three times harder would mean just under 80 miles.

To be clear, I have no answer to this question myself, I'm just interested in other's opinions.
 
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mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
I think LEL or PBP would be cycling equivalents of marathons in my mind but vastly more people run marathons than do those and I'd say running is 4-5 times more wearing so I am doubtless overstating it if you work the numbers out rationally. I guess you have to remember that many inactive people think cycling 40 miles is as unfathomably difficult as running 26. Maybe a 10k runner would not think a marathon so impressive?
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
I have cycled 100+ miles lots of times but the furthest that I ever ran was only about 7 miles. I can't speak about marathon running from experience, but what I do have experience of is throwing myself into the running and cycling from a base of zero.

I 'ran' 2.5 miles back from work and it completely wiped me out the first time that I did it. My first bike ride (as an adult returning to cycling after a 20 year break from it) was to borrow a colleague's bike and ride back to Hebden Bridge from Burnley, a 15 mile route which is undulating and included one big hill (which I had to walk up!). That completely wiped me out too...

So, for a beginner I would say that running a marathon OR cycling 100 miles would be a big challenge. After a few years experience the marathon surely must be much harder unless the 100-miler were incredibly hilly and/or there were a terrible headwind? I am out of condition at the moment but still knocked out a lumpy 100 km (62 mile) ride a few weeks ago. I doubt that I could even run half a mile to catch a bus! :laugh:
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
A little off topic for the RideLondon thread, but this has always been something I've wondered - what in people's opinion IS the cycling equivalent to a marathon?
It's a good question and possibly worth its own thread.

My experience of the Marathon is it's something you have to do strict disciplined training for a year or so and even then you may not succeed. .

Maybe it's my physiology but when I started cycling again after not riding or doing much exercise for years apart from regular gym workouts, I was capable of a (painful) hundred miler after a few months, just based on weekend rides - no real training, just getting my bum used to the saddle really.

LEL and PBP as @mjr says are good shouts.

I'd hazard a guess at maybe an Everest? Actually I think that may be a bit too hard. I can't see myself ever managing one of those, but if I set my mind to it and trained ... who knows?
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
I think LEL or PBP would be cycling equivalents of marathons in my mind but vastly more people run marathons than do those and I'd say running is 4-5 times more wearing so I am doubtless overstating it if you work the numbers out rationally. I guess you have to remember that many inactive people think cycling 40 miles is as unfathomably difficult as running 26. Maybe a 10k runner would not think a marathon so impressive?
The marathon is nowhere near the equivalent of LEL or PBP. Laughable to suggest it is.

My niece runs the London Marathon in around 3 hours 20. She’s run it most years recently as she gets in as good for her age group. I took her on a 200km audax, so around 130 miles. I really had to nurse her round, she struggled if I’m honest. So really you’ve got to look at what people have trained for or are good at.
 
OP
steverob

steverob

Veteran
Location
Buckinghamshire
LEL and PBP I regard as being more equivalent to those Ultra-Marathons where they run the entire length of the Pennine Way or similar. You don't have to take a nap at the side of the road for RideLondon or the London Marathon!
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
The marathon is nowhere near the equivalent of LEL or PBP. Laughable to suggest it is.

My niece runs the London Marathon in around 3 hours 20. She’s run it most years recently as she gets in as good for her age group. I took her on a 200km audax, so around 130 miles. I really had to nurse her round, she struggled if I’m honest. So really you’ve got to look at what people have trained for or are good at.
I don't think anyone's suggesting you should be able to freely interchange between the two, duathlon style. More, what would be an equivalent big, but achievable, target for an able bodied person if they put in the training.
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
I don't think anyone's suggesting you should be able to freely interchange between the two, duathlon style. More, what would be an equivalent big, but achievable, target for an able bodied person if they put in the training.
Then you’ve got to say what are you comparing? What are you measuring to say one is harder than the other? What objective measure are you using, other than, a subjective oh that felt hard?
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
LEL and PBP I regard as being more equivalent to those Ultra-Marathons where they run the entire length of the Pennine Way or similar. You don't have to take a nap at the side of the road for RideLondon or the London Marathon!
I think you underestimate how much I sleep :smile:
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
Then you’ve got to say what are you comparing? What are you measuring to say one is harder than the other? What objective measure are you using, other than, oh that felt hard?
No objective measure is possible. Cycling and running are so different. If it was there'd be no point in this discussion.

Given the place of the marathon in popular culture and the extent to which an ordinary, non trained, person can complete one after training, what would be a cycling equivalent? Something that requires similar levels of commitment but is achievable.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
The marathon is nowhere near the equivalent of LEL or PBP. Laughable to suggest it is.

My niece runs the London Marathon in around 3 hours 20. She’s run it most years recently as she gets in as good for her age group. I took her on a 200km audax, so around 130 miles. I really had to nurse her round, she struggled if I’m honest. So really you’ve got to look at what people have trained for or are good at.
Did she do as much audax training as marathon training before it, or is that comparison even more laughable than me saying what looks like marathon-equivalent to a middle-of-road cyclist? :tongue:

To be fair, I probably couldn't do a 200km audax but that would be more due to boredom than physical challenge... but I guess boredom is partly why I don't run much: the scenery moves too slow for the effort IMO.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
A little off topic for the RideLondon thread, but this has always been something I've wondered - what in people's opinion IS the cycling equivalent to a marathon?

I've never been a keen runner, but did it from time to time; mainly a something to do to keep fit when I couldn't ride, or when I'd foolishly entered myself in an event that I needed to train for; and was capable of running 5K without needing planning and could do a 10K in comfortably under an hour if I gave myself 4-5 weeks to prepare. I've since quit for various reasons, but while I was still running I figured that one day I'd build my fitness up and eventually try a marathon, but that I'd give myself at least 12 months to get to that stage by slowly going up through the distances. And I know plenty of people who were much less fit than me who have done similar, in fact some of them started from zero - e.g. couch to 5K.

Now for cycling, while many on this forum might look at 100 miles as being nothing special, I'll admit that even though I consider myself a keen cyclist, I've only done a century twice and both of those were in "events" - RideLondon 2018 and Tour of Cambridgeshire 2019 (did RL 2015 but only got to do 93 miles, though would have been able to manage the full 100 had the full route been open).

So given the couch to 5K comparision for runners, do you think a member of the general public could build themselves up to a century in less than a year if all they were currently capable of doing currently was a pootle down the shops? Or maybe a fairer question would be to ask someone who was already quite fit, but didn't do any cycling, how far do you think they could manage given 6 months (the time between the ballot draw and the event) to concentrate just on the bike - 100 miles, 120, 150, 200?

Other ways of looking at it - given that a century ride is 3.814 times the marathon distance, do we feel that running is almost four times harder than cycling on the body? If not, what should the multiplier be? e.g. if you think it's five times harder, then the cycling equivalent would be about 130 miles, but only three times harder would mean just under 80 miles.

To be clear, I have no answer to this question myself, I'm just interested in other's opinions.
In a marathon, you have to run the full 26.3 miles...in a 100 mile cycle you will be freewheeling a fair amount, so the terrain of course has an Impact. Marathon courses are pretty flat
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
Did she do as much audax training as marathon training before it, or is that comparison even more laughable than me saying what looks like marathon-equivalent to a middle-of-road cyclist? :tongue:

To be fair, I probably couldn't do a 200km audax but that would be more due to boredom than physical challenge... but I guess boredom is partly why I don't run much: the scenery moves too slow for the effort IMO.
She cycles as well. The point is,
No objective measure is possible. Cycling and running are so different. If it was there'd be no point in this discussion.

Given the place of the marathon in popular culture and the extent to which an ordinary, non trained, person can complete one after training, what would be a cycling equivalent? Something that requires similar levels of commitment but is achievable.
Well there‘s the issue.

What do you mean by ordinary person? Could they walk at 4mph for six hours? If they can then they can do a marathon in 6.5 hours. No training required. If they can jog a little you can easily get that down to 5 hours.

But if by ordinary you mean sedentary then I know people who struggle with even 20 mins of moderate exercise.
 

Milkfloat

An Peanut
Location
Midlands
In a marathon, you have to run the full 26.3 miles...in a 100 mile cycle you will be freewheeling a fair amount, so the terrain of course has an Impact. Marathon courses are pretty flat
I fully agree, 100 miles on a bike is possible with minimum training for reasonable fit/active person, after all I knocked one out by accident when I was 13, worse case you have a very sore undercarriage. To ride one fast (sub 4 hours) is a lot harder and I would say is comparable to a marathon. To run a marathon (rather than walk) is not something someone can do without a least some decent training, mainly because they will injure themselves, but also because there is very little you can do to rest and recover like you can on a bike.

I have ridden many, many centuries but only run one marathon. Although I do run fairly regularly, I only do 5k and 10k distances, I found a marathon very hard work, far harder than any century. A friend of mine who has run multiple marathons also found his first bike century rather easy in comparison.
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
She cycles as well. The point is,


Well there‘s the issue.

What do you mean by ordinary person? Could they walk at 4mph for six hours? If they can then they can do a marathon in 6.5 hours. No training required. If they can jog a little you can easily get that down to 5 hours.

But if by ordinary you mean sedentary then I know people who struggle with even 20 mins of moderate exercise.
You're getting there.

So, now we need to consider the cycling equivalent.

Or not. If you think it's a pointless discussion, which it is to a degree, then you aren't duty bound to participate.
 
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