The cycling equivalent of a marathon?


New Forest
I have done a marathon (badly), came in at 4hours 27 minutes (15 were laying down at mile 22). It took nearly a year of training in order to get my body used to the shear punishment that it goes through for that time.
I have done a few centuries on the bike. My legs get tired, and my feet and backside start feeling as if they are on fire. However the punishment is less.
comparing the two imo is like comparing apples and oranges.


Eh up
It's something I have pondered before, but have never come up with answer, I have done a lot of running a few marathons and longer distances on the list, I didn't enjoy the marathons they left me drained, I nearly always enjoy a 100+ ride but I was probably more competitive running the marathon than cycling 100 miles, I suppose a 100 TT cycled competitively would drain me also, a hard 25tt was enough for me, my head would not cope well with a 100 TT either.
So for me a marathon is comparable to a hard 100 TT both approached competitively.
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When running you have to constantly support and launch your entire weight with each step, with all the impact that entails, so maybe a cycling equivalent would be riding x miles after having removed your saddle and seatpost, regardless of how fast or slow you do it.

I once told my housemate that my 15 mile commute was fairly easy, and he challenged me to do the whole thing out of the saddle. I did it once, but ever since I have appreciated the functional beauty and beautiful functionality of a saddle. In fact if you ignore the legs going around, the sitting down and constantly eating is pretty much like any other day for me. :smile:

All uphill

Senior Member
I tried running today, as a result of this thread, and made about 1/2 mile before my aging body objected strongly. The same aging body seems to enjoy metric centuries, and I plan to do my first 100mile ride once the days are a bit longer.

Therefore, projecting from the individual to the population I can confidently assert that the running:cycling ratio is 1:120. QED.


Shambling ruin of a man
I don't think it's a useful comparison, because of the two different demands placed on the body.

My longest day in the saddle was 153 miles. While I couldn't face the thought of the bike for 3 days, I know that if I had no option then once I warmed up I'd have been able to knock out another ton the day after, and the day after, etc.

I've not taken part in a formal run since school but I have covered near-marathon distance hiking over rough terrain (hooray for the Devil's Staircase) in a day.
I walked 12 miles the following day, although much of that time was spent sat down feeling sorry for myself, towards the end I needed to use a branch I found as a walking stick just to put one foot in front of another, my ankles were in such a state that I considered going to the hospital instead of my hostel.

Load-bearing exercise will ruin you in a way that cycling won't.
I was entered in a marathon later this year. So I decided to get some running training started. I did a few 10 Km runs ( at about 45-50 minutes pace ) and I found that because of the amount of cycling I do, my heart and lungs were fine with it. However the leg muscles really didn’t like it at all, and towards the end of the 10Km runs, it felt like I was running through treacle, and they did need a lot of work the following day, to feel normal again, despite doing all the requisite warm up / warm down routines. After a couple of weeks doing the 10 Km route I had worked out, I pushed it up to 20 Km. The first one was fine, except for the treacle / Haribo legs in the last couple of Kms, when I went to repeat the trick, my left leg went completely dead at about 15 Kms. I limped home, and the following day, I couldn’t walk, I could barely stand. Really severe Shin splints, which were so bad, I thought I may have stress fractured my left tibia, which was bad news, because I had a load of rides to do, which I couldn’t, because I couldn’t move my left leg at all well. It took a week or two to recover, so I’ve binned the idea of running the marathon off, because I can’t risk the potential disruption to my cycling schedule at the moment. That really is a big big difference. The impact / shock your legs are dealing with, really do work the muscles in ways they are never worked when cycling. I used to primarily run ( mixture of road and cross country ) with cycling being the minority activity, so I was surprised at how easily I injured.

Rusty Nails

We remember
Here and there
In a marathon, you have to run the full 26.3 a 100 mile cycle you will be freewheeling a fair amount, so the terrain of course has an Impact. Marathon courses are pretty flat
Good point. How about comparing a marathon to a 100 miles on a fixed wheel bike?


The Dartmoor Classic, Grande route. 😱 110 miles of hell, but IMHO equal to any Marathon, just an opinion of course having done both in my time.
I'm doing it in June. It will be 110 miles of bliss to me. If you're very heavy and/or badly trained I could see it been hell.


I'm doing it in June. It will be 110 miles of bliss to me. If you're very heavy and/or badly trained I could see it been hell.
Yep, I was 18st+, (my fighting weight, I'm a big fella) good luck to you though. I know it's just a sportive rather than a TT, but it still a toughie and commands a lot of respect. I'll give you a wave as it literally runs right pass my doorstep.


Cake or ice cream? The choice is endless ...
Is there an equivalent bike ride to the origin of the Marathon, where a chap ran that particular distance to deliver a Greek message? ie, a cyclist delivering an urgent message to a General, or summat, a long way away?
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