Fight, fight, fight!!! Running vs Cycling!

This used to be a running blog.

You may have noticed that it’s not so much about running at the moment, it’s all about cycling. That’s because I’m training for the 100-mile Surf City Aids Ride in September and that is taking up all my attention, and definitely taking up all my time.

I have to be honest, I miss running so much! I was out on my bike last week and saw two bunches of girls out running Woodside trails and my heart ached a bit to be with them. This is a good thing, as I was having an unenthusiastic spell with running  a few months ago and I’m so happy that I WANT to run again! But for the moment, I’ll have to hold my horses – whilst I’m trying to run 3 times/week at the moment, cycling is necessarily taking priority.

The more I get into cycling, the more I find I compare it to running, sometimes favourably, sometimes less so. I thought it might be fun to do a face off – running vs cycling and see how they stack up.

In the blue corner…running.

In the red corner…cycling


Round One. How much time does it take?

There is a clear winner here…running!! I used to think that fitting my 2-hour ‘long run’ into a busy week was a challenge. I will NEVER think that again. My rides at the moment (being slow) are 7 hours long, and likely to increase to 8 1/2 before I’m done. This is HARD to fit in to my life and I have become a little resentful of the time it’s taken me away from my family.     Winner = running!

Round Two. How easy is it to get out the door?

Once again, running wins. Pull on some clothes, get some good shoes and a sports bra and you’re off. It takes HOURS to get out the door for a long ride. Pump tyres, check puncture kit is all there, find all the clothes etc, water bottles, snacks…and there’s always something I forget. Like chamois cream.     Winner = running!

So much stuff!
So much stuff!

Round Three. How safe do I feel?

Where I live is very safe so I have never felt in danger when I run. Only when I run trails do I feel edgy about my environment, and that’s due to big cats and big snakes.

However, I do not feel entirely safe in the roads of the peninsula. It’s densely populated, people drive fast and are not particularly cyclist-friendly. I feel like I’ve heard about many more cyclist accidents here than I did in the UK. I get back from each ride thanking God that I’m safe.    Winner = running!

Round Four. How much chafing is there?

Both sports have caused chafing but neither need to have done so if I’d used something. Lack of Body Glide meant my British thighs suffered some painful chafing a few times when running but lack of chamois cream meant that there was chafing in areas where no lady wants to chafe!  It’s a draw! A painful draw!

Round Five. How cute is the clothing?

Cycling clothes are quite ugly. We’ve discussed jerseys, but also padded shorts are not flattering and the shoes are ugly too. But cycling clothes have pockets in the small of my back and I LOVE that, I’d love more clothes to have pockets there especially when I start teaching in September!

But there’s a clear winner. Running clothes are really cute, which is why I have far too many of them.  Winner = running!

My favourite outfit, inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge against a California sky!
My favourite outfit, inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge against a California sky!

Round Six. How fast can you go?

Cycling wins!  You know that bit at mile 7 of half-marathon and you’ve still got 6.1 long, slow miles to churn out and it feels like you’ll be running FOREVER?? Those last 6 miles FLY by on a bike, it’s a joy to watch them tick off on your computer! I never quite get over the buzz of watching those miles mount up quickly! Winner = cycling!

Round Seven. Health benefits.

Both activities are super healthy – good for cardiovascular health and overall fitness. But how do they stack up?

Running is weight-bearing so helps build strong bones. It burns more calories per minute. However it is potentially harder on joints and one article suggests it’s more likely to cause injuries. It definitely leads to more muscle soreness than cycling.

Cycling is gentler on joints. It apparently builds more muscle in the legs. It’s low impact so you can go for longer. My personal experience is that it’s kinder on the bowels that running – no ‘bush stops’ for me when cycling. I’d also suggest that for ‘that time of the month’ cycling is a preferable activity. I had no trouble cycling then, whereas running can be uncomfortable, if not painful!!

I read a number of online articles for this question…and basically, apart from the info above, the general consensus was they’re both awesome, pick the one you love or, better still…do both.  It’s a draw!!!

For your pleasure.
For your pleasure.

Round Eight. How much fun is it?

I actually enjoy how running feels but cycling definitely wins this category. It’s like flying. It’s so smooth and elegant and graceful. I particularly love cycling with the Dude – somehow it makes me feel like a mama tiger loping along next to her cub. There’s nothing like feeling your legs turning and your bike speeding along underneath you.                Winner = cycling!

Round Nine. Is it a friendly crowd?

This is a hard one. Years of running have given me a great bunch of running friends but I only have one amazing cycling friend because I’m so new at the sport that I haven’t had the chance to meet many yet. Also, cycling is full of whippets in fancy kit on fancy bikes who are snooty and unfriendly. They often don’t reply to my smile or greeting, and there are a lot of fairly obnoxious rich people cycling around the peninsula.

However…I have met really nice, chatty cycling people at my cake stops, other riders on my 100k ride were really nice and I only conquered Page Mill Road, our local brute of a hill, because one lovely lady got chatting as we slogged up and literally dragged me up it, encouraging me and challenging me. With more time, I’m confident I will find my cycling friends! It’s a draw!!

I will take a long time to find cycling ladies that begin to compare to these chicks!
I will take a long time to find cycling ladies that begin to compare to these chicks!


Round Ten.  How happy does it make me?

I can’t choose a winner because I love them both. Running through the redwoods is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Running with your friends somewhere beautiful is just a joy. But cycling feels like flying. Cycling across the Alps years ago was a magical adventure. Touring with the Dude the other week was so special. Both sports make me super-happy. It’s a draw!

And the verdict is…

With 8 points vs 6, running is the clear winner! However that’s primarily because it fits better into my lifestyle at the moment (time) and because where I live doesn’t provide the safest cycling.

But writing this list, which is totally tongue in cheek, made me realise that I love both sports. I would HATE to have to choose one. I want both. I am both a runner with a cycling problem and a cyclist with a running problem and I do not want that to change. In addition they compliment each other really well – once this century ride is done, I probably won’t do more of them but I DO want to continue riding and do more 100k rides. I definitely want to keep this variety in my fitness routines.

The real winner therefore….is me!


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice post idea!! I also did comparisons in my head and, like you, I like both sports. At the moment I don’t have a bike so I miss cycling and reading about it makes me want to have a bike VERY soon!!
    Good luck with your training for the century ride. I saw on DailyMile you are on top of your game!!

    (also, THANKS A LOT for Anton’s photo… ;-))

    1. Cathryn says:

      Did you think of anything I missed? So far, training is going okay. I’m slow, but I think I’ll make it.

      1. Sure you will!! I know it 🙂

  2. Jen says:

    This is a really cute and fun post! I’m glad that running came out on top, though I can see how cycling can be great as well. The biggest deterring factor for me re: cycling is lack of good local routes, and no bike rack to get to better routes. Do you have a rack on your car, or do you take off a tire and squeeze it into the trunk?

    I agree with Marjolaine – thanks for the photo of Anton! 🙂

  3. Cathryn says:

    Yeah, the traffic/busy roads is a problem. I feel like the east bay has better options in that respect – Orinda/Livermore/Pleasanton have some lovely roads. We do have a rack but it only fits on the Husband’s car. My bike can fit in my Honda Fit without taking the wheel off. If we take front wheels off, we can get all three bikes and all three Ramsdens in the back of my car, it’s amazing.

    Anton 🙂

  4. Angela says:

    Okay, there seriously needs to be some Woodside trail running in the fall!!!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Yes. Mend up!! x

  5. Grace says:

    Clearly, you have forgotten a key category: how easy on the eyes are the gentlemen who engage in each sport? The fact that you have posted a photo of Mr Krupicka rather than one of Mr Wiggins is telling… 😉

    1. Cathryn says:

      You make a GOOD point! Running men > cycling men! Yes!!

  6. Bean says:

    This was such a fun read. My guess is if you keep up with both you will be a stronger runner and stronger cyclist.

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