The cycling equivalent of a marathon?

iandg

Legendary Member
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!
My thoughts too. No sleep deprivation in a marathon.

Difference with a bike is the opportunity to freewheel downhill for 'recovery' and body weight is supported by a saddle. I used to work on 3 miles cycling equivalent to 1 mile running - using that 'rule' 75 miles would be equivalent. From experience I would need as much time to recover from a 100 mile road race or 300km Audax as I did from running a Marathon.
 
Last edited:

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
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?
There are rides or routes commemorating marches, train journeys and even flights, but ones commemorating bike rides seem few and far between. The closest I found was the Ypres-Dunkirk stage of the Big Battlefield Bike Ride which follows the Dynamo evacuation corridor. With the chaos and the terrain, some of the BEF probably cycled it. It's probably around 40 miles and fairly flat. https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/give-support/challenges/big-battlefield-bike-ride/

Pro races are mostly young and commercial, setting or changing routes to please funders. I didn't find anything among the monuments or classics.
 

johnblack

Senior Member
100 miles on road around London didn't seem like a marathon to me plus it depends on how the rider takes it, full bore or trundle. I do a 100 mile MTB sportive / ride using tracks and bridleways every year which can get pretty competitive and as you're on a MTB it's relentless, harder than any road bike ride I've done, so probably the nearest to a marathon. Plus I couldn't imagine anything worse than running a marathon.
 

Tenkaykev

Senior Member
Location
Poole
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
This ^^^^ ( to some extent)

I've run shed loads of Marathons and Ultra events over the years.

Being diagnosed with a rare blood condition a few years ago meant that I didn't have the stamina for the long stuff as I fatigue easily.

I started cycling a couple of years back and found that I could cycle a fair distance ( slowly) as the periods where I could coast let my legs recover to some extent.

I still used the same training strategy as for Marathon running, a base of endurance mixed with some hills and some speed training.

Managed to do 70 miles on my Brompton last year, I was pretty knackered at the end but felt that if necessary I could have carried on a bit further.

One other thing to mention is that if you are reasonably fit it's not the distance that gets you, but the pace with which you try to cover that distance, and it's the law of diminishing returns in that each improvement in time gets increasingly more difficult.

So to that extent you would need some sort of time vs distance benchmark ( ie something like a sub 4 marathon vs sub 6 Century)
The cycling time example is a guess as I'm not an experienced cyclist.

Health permitting I'm planning to attempt my first Century later this year so I'll report back 😉

Now, about Marathons being mainly flat, a lot are, but there are many that aren't. The original Isle of Wight Marathon boasted 24 " Major" hills and was a nightmare if you got it wrong. I think the AAA allowed several minutes if you were going for a particular time award. Then there's the Snowdon Marathon which has a bit of a hill in it, and a local one which involves running a Marathon along the Dorset coast path.
 

nickAKA

Senior Member
Location
Manchester
You can pootle arou
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.
Agree on the cardio aspect, it's not a problem for me but I can only run for as long as my legs will carry me... it's all about the miles in the legs, comfort, pacing & fuelling when you run longer distances. Nobody wants to run carrying a load of fuel so it's really important to get that right.
The current training vogue is to run in zone 2 which I find nigh on impossible, a sub-120 HR is 10:30/mile pace personally and I find it really difficult to hold it. I regularly do 5 miles with the wife at that pace but I find it frustrating unless I follow it up with a quick/longer run which feels like defeating the object somewhat.
I've inadvertantly trained a diesel engine and I'm happiest/most comfortable running at 145-150bpm which will stand me in good stead for a marathon but I won't be breaking any records. It all depends what your goals are I suppose, I should be happy to get over the line but my ego insists I go sub-4

On the other hand, you've got options on the bike. Carrying a litre of fluid & some nibbles and fuelling on the go is pretty trivial. Non-competitive sportives mean cafe stops (a basic requirement of the leisurely century ride :laugh:) plus the soft-pedalling bits, sat in the draft, and the nice downhill rolls where you can catch your breath and do a bit of active recovery are all part of it... no such luxury when running cos even the downhills take a physical toll.

TL;DR equivalence? At this stage (pre-marathon, 17 miles max) I'd say a good climbing day about 6000', in the saddle for 4 or 5 hours? I dunno though, I've always made sure I've got enough miles in the bank to ensure my legs still worked after an event. I'll let you know in April.
 

Sharky

Veteran
Location
Kent
Maybe we should look at the ironman distances.
2.4 swim
112 bike
Marathon

Assuming they have tried to make each section comparable in terms of effort etc, without giving an advantage to one specific discipline, then this would point to 112 miles being the equivalent.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Non-competitive sportives mean cafe stops (a basic requirement of the leisurely century ride :laugh:) plus the soft-pedalling bits, sat in the draft, and the nice downhill rolls where you can catch your breath and do a bit of active recovery are all part of it... no such luxury when running cos even the downhills take a physical toll.
I am fairly sure one is allowed to stop at cafes when running non-competitively too. Few do, but then few sportivers stop at a cafe in my experience.
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
Just thought I'd post this that I saw while perusing the Velo Essex website. https://www.veloessex.com/100-mile-route/overview/

100 Miles – the big one. The ‘marathon distance’ of the cycling world. It seems like a long way, but with enough training and preparation, it’s a challenge that’s achievable for riders of all ability levels.

I think that if you're going to go for a distance, and nothing else, then the equivalence 100 miles = marathon is about the best you will do. Or perhaps 200km, which is in the same ballpark but doesn't have the same ring as 100 miles to Brits.

It's good enough for snappy sentences like the above but as we've established a 100 mile ride is a piece of cake compared to the physical punishment of a marathon.

Doing a particular amount of climbing might be fairer, but it just doesn't have the same ring to it. Maybe a half-Everest ~4,400m/14,500ft. I think an Everest is too big an ask.
 
few sportivers stop at a cafe in my experience.
On the very few sportives I’ve ever bothered with ( the first Velo Birmingham Midlands, and the PRLS 100 a few times) I’ve stopped at a Pret A Manger, and a pub. I do / did get some odd looks from people watching over the barriers, as I stopped, lock my bike to the bike racks outside and went in for a bite to eat and a drink / pint. I was told I “wasn’t taking it seriously” when I finished. You don’t say:laugh:
 
On the very few sportives I’ve ever bothered with ( the first Velo Birmingham Midlands, and the PRLS 100 a few times) I’ve stopped at a Pret A Manger, and a pub. I do / did get some odd looks from people watching over the barriers, as I stopped, lock my bike to the bike racks outside and went in for a bite to eat and a drink / pint. I was told I “wasn’t taking it seriously” when I finished. You don’t say:laugh:
You've paid the money, you can do it how you like!

Actually, thinking about it, why would you want to get it over and done with as quickly as possible? I only do that with things that I hate.
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
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!
Not really on topic but I was a minor official at a hundred mile race at Crystal Palace track years and years ago. Jeez that was boring. I had to count the laps for "my guy". Fortunately "my guy" dropped out after a while (it seemed like a very long while) so I was released and went home. ISTR some Russian guy went on to break the record. I don't think any naps were taken.
 
Top Bottom