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Century = Marathon ?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Century = Marathon ?

Old 07-25-14, 06:59 AM
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NCcyclist88
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Century = Marathon ?

Just having a discussion with some of my serious running friends and an endurance comparison between running and cycling came up.
Is a century ride (100 miles) by bike the equivalent to running a marathon? I am curious to hear everyone's opinions on this topic!
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Old 07-25-14, 07:01 AM
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Old 07-25-14, 07:03 AM
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Not remotely close, unless your ride ends in a place named Marathon. Marathon, New York - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 07-25-14, 07:07 AM
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No. Running a marathon makes walking the next day difficult. Yet a reasonably fit person can handle a century ride fairly easily.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:12 AM
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Running is harder

physically, physiologically, mentally - all of these.

Most marathoners could ride a century with little preparation.

Few century riders could run a marathon even with sufficient training.

Bicycle riding is not running.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:15 AM
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A Century = 100 miles and a Metric Century = 62.137 miles.

There are ultra marathon events ~ 3,000 miles and some marathon mountain bike races, but the term isn't used much in road cycling as it is in running and inline skating events.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:22 AM
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No. Century = 100 miles at a lower effort generally over 5 hrs. Marathon = 24 miles over 3 hrs at a higher effort. Nothing equal about them, nada, zip, zero. Two entirely different creatures.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:29 AM
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I'd only add that it depends on how hard you push yourself. I'd say that if you are really pushing your limits on the bike, an imperial century is about as much effort as a half-marathon or a 15k.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:29 AM
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Does anyone have data showing caloric expenditure or work done?

I'm sure a marathon would generate higher numbers but I think it would be interesting to see them.

As to a marathon runner being able to complete a century, "no problem" I think this is mistaken. The muscles used differ to some degree. Things like neuro-muscular memory are thereby sport specific as are things like pacing.

Fitness is fitness but there is a degree of specificity that can't be discounted.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:54 AM
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As an ultra marathoner I can tell you that if you slow the pace and run instead of race a marathon it's not that hard to complete 26.2 miles. Ive seen very unfit people do this and walk the next day. It's all about intensity.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by surgeonstone View Post
No. Century = 100 miles at a lower effort generally over 5 hrs. Marathon = 24 miles over 3 hrs at a higher effort. Nothing equal about them, nada, zip, zero. Two entirely different creatures.
I agree, different creatures and not a good comparison. All my centuries have been done under 5 hrs., but with a group. Some can do them under 4 hrs, not me. Obviously at major effort. You could walk/jog 24 miles with little effort. Yes, very different and depends on your goals and effort. I think this is why the term marathon isn't often used in cycling.
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Old 07-25-14, 07:56 AM
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Done each a dozen or so times, for me I think they are pretty similar in difficulty.


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Old 07-25-14, 08:00 AM
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I'll cast my vote with those that say running is much more difficult. I could only manage a half marathon at a reasonable pace without injury. A century is never a problem.
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Old 07-25-14, 08:15 AM
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I think running takes a different approach completely. I bike 98% run 2%. I ran 10 miles a few days back with not a lot of trouble but i did pace myself at 9 min/mile which is pretty slow. I think the century can be as difficult as you want it to depending on speed and climb. A 100 mile 12k feet climb century is awful. A flat 4kft. century ride at 15mph is not that hard really. I find road races and crits much harder than centuries and running as well. That leg burn and dizziness i cant compare it to any other sport that i know of.
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Old 07-25-14, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by NCcyclist88 View Post
Just having a discussion with some of my serious running friends and an endurance comparison between running and cycling came up.
Is a century ride (100 miles) by bike the equivalent to running a marathon? I am curious to hear everyone's opinions on this topic!
Time-wise they might be similar ... but from what I understand, effort-wise a marathon is more like a double or triple century.
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Old 07-25-14, 08:24 AM
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I could ride an impromptu 100 miles today if I wanted to. I would have to seriously train for months before considering a marathon
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Old 07-25-14, 08:34 AM
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I ran before I cycled seriously, raced cross country in high school, did a bunch of 10k runs. I did train for a marathon, never did one, but I did train up to 20 miles.

Training 20 miles on a flat course was hard, harder than a century for sure. I'd say that climbing on the bike is closer to the exertion of running, but usually with climbing you get a break and some downhills.

I did a 5 K run this spring, and it took more out of me than a 40 km ride. Though I think much depends on pace with either.
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Old 07-25-14, 08:45 AM
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I believe the running would be harder on the body. My longest run is 16 miles, and my longest ride is 80 miles. So I have not reached the two events mention, but from the two I have done, I am more spent after the run. As far as Calorie output, from what the apps show, my calorie output for running is almost 4 times as much for running, per mile distance. Haven't done the math as to what that equates to per hour.
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Old 07-25-14, 08:49 AM
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Everyone is tippee-toeing around the real question here:

Which sport has the cooler shorts?
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Old 07-25-14, 08:51 AM
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Cycling barnone. Running shorts look like female tennis skorts. Cyclist shorts are all about virility. Shaved legs also awesome.
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Old 07-25-14, 08:53 AM
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Century = Marathon?

They are both endurance lengths for their respective sports, and they are both efforts to be proud of, but the century is easier. As a former runner, I think you can compare bike distances to run distances at shorter lengths (i.e. 15 miles bike = 5K run), but anything much over 5-8 miles of running the comparison falls off. Once you start running any distances that take an hour or more, there is no good comparison for biking and running, because of the physical impact running places on your ankles, knees, back, etc. At no point during a run can you coast, it's all effort unless you want to stop.

If you take the Tour de France as an example - if you asked the top runners in the world to do marathons day after day for 3 weeks, with only a couple days off and interchanged sprints with climbs, etc. very, very few would be able to finish without injury.
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Old 07-25-14, 08:55 AM
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I can tell you I ran 2 miles on the treadmill and I felt just as exhausted as riding 50 miles on the bike.
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Old 07-25-14, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by jrossbeck View Post
They are both endurance lengths for their respective sports, and they are both efforts to be proud of, but the century is easier. As a former runner, I think you can compare bike distances to run distances at shorter lengths (i.e. 15 miles bike = 5K run), but anything much over 5-8 miles of running the comparison falls off. Once you start running any distances that take an hour or more, there is no good comparison for biking and running, because of the physical impact running places on your ankles, knees, back, etc. At no point during a run can you coast, it's all effort unless you want to stop.

If you take the Tour de France as an example - if you asked the top runners in the world to do marathons day after day for 3 weeks, with only a couple days off and interchanged sprints with climbs, etc. very, very few would be able to finish without injury.
Agreed, but i think cycling enables you to suffer for indefinite amounts of suffering. They cant run for 21 days but there is no tougher competitive event than the tdf. No running event. Maybe swimming from cuba to the usa.
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Old 07-25-14, 09:02 AM
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Kinda like you can only get hit with a broom stick in the head so much before you die (stop) but you can get punched in the nads forever.
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Old 07-25-14, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by lsberrios1 View Post
Agreed, but i think cycling enables you to suffer for indefinite amounts of suffering. They cant run for 21 days but there is no tougher competitive event than the tdf. No running event. Maybe swimming from cuba to the usa.
Absolutely - don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the TDF, well before I became a cyclist myself. It is the ultimate in endurance that is out there today. I'm just using that as an example of why running a marathon is "harder" than biking a century. Harder doesn't necessarily mean better. I'm not here to knock running, I still wish I could do it pain free, but I've personally felt the downside of running injuries, and know lots of others who have as well. I've met zero riders who had to give up biking. That's a good thing.

At the end of the day, whether you run, bike, swim, do all three, or anything else - just get out there, be active and be thankful that you can.
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