Running or Cycling

How does cycling compare to running, i am unable to run at the moment because of a hamstring injury, so i thought i would give cycling a go, it doesnt aggravate my problem, but what i want to know is if i run 1 mile what would be the equivelant mileage to achieve the same fitness effect on a bike, is it the same? and is this a good substitute for running. Is there any forumite who can shed light on this for me please


  • I'm far from an expert on this, in fact I know very little, but I think I read that for each mile you run you need to cycle about 5. There are quite a few cyclists on this forum, I'm sure one will give you a more knowledgeable answer.
  • I don't think that there's a definitive answer to this, but I have heard it said that 4 miles on the bike equates to approx one mile of running.
    Somebody will no doubt prove me wrong!

  • Hilly,

    You must have been typing at the same time as me!
    Shall we split the difference and go for 4 1/2 miles?!!
  • I was a competitive cyclist until May last year after which I took up running.

    Having done both sports fairly recently I would agree that the 1/5 ratio is probably about right.

    I used to think that cycling was as hard as it could get but having 6 months of 1/2 marathons and now xc under my belt I take that back.

    I can honestly say that I have suffered more whilst running than I ever did on a bike!!
  • So really you have to put in a lot of miles in compared to running. I hope my hamstring improves. Does anyone know if cycling is good for your hamstring's or are you using a different set of muscles for this.
  • 4 miles of cycling is equivalent to 1 mile of running and running primarily works your quads and doesn't put as much strain on your hamstrings as running (shorter range of movement). Cycling takes up a lot more time than running to achieve the same level of fitness but I like to do both as I enjoy them both and it gives my training a little variety. Also, cycling is definitely not so hard on these old joints and tendons of mine.
  • If you want to use your hamstrings more, you'll need clipless pedals or toes clips. Concentrate on pulling the pedal from about the 4/5 O'clock position to about the 9/10 O'clock position, rather than pressing down with the quads. In terms of how much to do, I'd say that you can achieve nearly as much in the same amount of time when cycling, but only when you're efficient at it and can maintain higher heart rates. The good thing is though, if you want to train for hours without injury you can!
  • I'm also looking to do training other than running, and have recently read somewhere that some cross-training can be antagonistic to your running fitness - mainly with regard to the different muscle groups worked.
    I was thinking about doing some rowing as this tends to get your heart working pretty hard - does anybody know if this is "in synch" or antagonistic to running?
  • Having used cycling & Xtrainer for a month in a gym to avoid knee damage I offer the following:

    1) neither use the range of muscles running does (my legs confirm this after first run yesterday)

    2) It's worthwhile keeping up some form of Interval/rep structure

    3) Heart rates seem to be lower for given effort

  • I think that if you do want to do some trining on the bike then you need to get up out of the saddle into a standing sort of position and then you need to cycle in a high gear to increase your pedal reps per minute. There is no point using a low gear and sitiing in your saddle because you wont use all your mucscles as much and your legs will probably bulk up.
  • I think as with all things - it depends!

    I have been doing a lot of cycling recently due to injury and I suspect that like for like i.e. over the same course the estimate of 4-5 is probably about right but I think it depends on how hard you push yourself. E.g. I use an indoor cycle quite a lot but set on a relatively high resistance level i.e. like constantly cycling uphill - doing this I would suggest the ratio is a lot closer. Plus cycling has lots of other benefits.

  • Cas - it's the other way round. High gears are the gears you push slowly - low gears are the easy ones you spin in.

    But yes you are right - keep the cadence high, and spin low gears and that'll make sure you don't bulk up.

    Fixed wheel bikes are good if you feel brave, or spinning classes are excellent.
  • Totally agree with Cougie, im not sure what is the hardest, but I compared my 10k run (my pb) against an hour of spinning class and matched up the heart rate graphs and they were pretty damn close avg @ 174- 190 but then I was pushing it.

    Both 2 very good forms of exercise.
  • MartinH - reading this post at least now I know you're o.k.! I posted some time ago asking if you were alright because of the dreadful hurricane-type winds that hit Schwarzwald before Xmas. When I didn't get an answer I wondered......
  • Got to agree with Martin H went out cycling sunday 5th and covered 15 miles in just under a hour (is this good or bad) and really felt i had run the same distance and today my legs feel like lead.
  • Sorry to have given cause for concern Ironwolf (and nice to know someone was concerned) I didn't read your post (some of the threads are so long nowadays its impossible to read them all!). Drop me an e-mail in future!
  • MartinH - ok will do that, but hopefully we won't get any more of that dreadful weather
  • Well spotted Coughie, not well up on all the cycing lingo!
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