Many runners that I have spoken with over the years, both casual and dedicated, seem to be under the impression that running is superior to cycling because riding a bike is too easy.
I had a friend tell me that he runs because he wants to, “… get a work-out. I can run around the block…”, he told me, “…and already be sweating and panting from the effort, but if I rode a bike around the block I’d come back hardly feeling any effort had been made.”
I explained that I too could ride around the block with the same lack of effort and same lack of cardiovascular challenge. BUT, I could also ride FAST around the block and come back, in far less time, with obvious signs of exertion. And if I rode the same amount of time as it took him to make one circuit by foot, making multiple laps on the bike, I would be able to get as intense of a work-out.
It’s the bikes ability to be ridden casually that deceives runners.
By definition, running has a base level of exertion that is above the low effort of a leisurely bike ride.
Rather than comparing a specific type of terrestrial locomotion, “Running”, to a general means of conveyance, “Bicycling”, a more accurate comparison would be to compare Bipedalism to Cycling. There you would find that there are low, as well as high, effort forms of each.
An experienced cyclist who regularly pushes his limits riding at speed, could easily say to a runner. “I ride because I want a workout, but I could stroll casually along the route that I regularly ride and not even work up a sweat.”
This would be as false a comparison as the one my friend made. He wasn’t trying to be deceitful. He wasn’t stupid. But he was certainly ignorant. He didn’t have the experience of trying to push his abilities on a bike that was capable of being so pushed.
It’s likely that the only bikes he had ridden were discount store replicas of real bikes. Such bikes often fit and function too poorly for even a casual ride around the block. Attempting to ride one aggressively will quickly bring to the surface the weaknesses of low cost engineering.
Runners would never consider low quality, discount store, artificial joints when it comes time to replace their worn-out body parts.
But that’s in part because once the reality sinks-in that the sport they love has damaged the body they need they are motivated to do whatever they can to mitigate the damage, even if it involves spending to get, “the best money can buy”.
My goal in writing this series on running compared to cycling is to bridge the ignorance gap so those who appreciate the joys of running can understand that similar joys can be found on a bicycle, as well other joys not found in running. And, most importantly, if they are willing to invest now in quality equipment they won’t be forced later to pay far more for quality replacement body parts.
I don’t want runners and cyclists to remain divided into 2 groups thinking they have different goals. The goals of challenge and endurance are the same. We are one group of self motivated improvement seekers unafraid to push ourselves, to test the limits of our abilities. The divide is in the approach, “pay me now or pay me later.”