Long before I got my first bike, I tried running. Notice ‘tried’. Now I’ve done both, I’ve got a clear stance in the war of cycling versus running. But who is the winner? In my eyes anyway?
There’s no denying it, cycling can be a VERY expensive sport. A year into cycling and I’m already on my third bike, gone through a dozen pieces of kit and just got my second helmet. Not to forget the smaller pieces of kit like pumps, bottle cages, tyre leavers and inner tubes. Before you know it, you’ve spent a small fortune and bought half of Wiggle.
However, a bike will last you years if you look after it properly. It’s not just something you exercise on, it’s a form of transport, and one of the best investments of your life. With running, all you really need is trainers and clothes.
Stick Strava on your phone and you’re sorted. Or, grab yourself a Garmin!
Even those with two left feet and awful coordination can run. It’s the most natural exercise around. Cycling does take a bit of practice, and what you learnt as a kid sometimes won’t cut it. Now you’ve got to learn how a bike works, how to indicate, how to use the gearing and how to change a tyre. (Even though I’ve somehow managed to avoid changing a tyre yet).
Some might fall off a bike as soon as they get on it, so the battle of ease when it comes to cycling versus running is a very personal one.
That being said it takes only a few hours of practice on the bike to feel like you’re a pro, so don’t feel daunted. You’ll get the hang of it, promise.
I don’t know about you, but 99% of the time that I’m running, I feel like utter shit. I’ve got a stitch, my legs are tired, I’m out of breath and I feel as if I’m moving at a snail’s pace. I feel great after, but the during process is a tad crap.
However, my time on a bike is enjoyable 99% of the time. Unless you’re absolutely gassing it or going up a hill, exercise is actually fun. Sure the saddle might be a bit uncomfortable and your legs might hurt a bit going up a hill, but it’s a walk in the park compared to going for a run.
Running clubs are everywhere, along with ParkRuns in UK parks every weekend. You can drag friends and family along without needing them to find any equipment, and you can dive straight in. There’s a reason there are so many Middle Aged men in Lycra (MAMIL), cycling is FUN.
You meet so many new people at clubs, and there’s always the option for coffee or food after a club ride. There are also tons of competitions no matter your age or ability, building an even stronger community.
I’ve run perhaps 5 times in the past month, and I’m already injured.
A tight calf is very frustrating, but not my first injury. Last year I managed to roll my foot and gain a sore arch. Running is natural, but hell on your body. Shin splints, tight muscles and knee and ankle damage all come included, and they’re a nightmare to sort out.
Sadly, even though running is the most natural sport out there, it’s still the easiest to injure yourself in. This is because you often go years and years without running, and then throw yourself into it thinking it’ll be fine.
With low bone density and high impact from your feet hitting the floor, it can be a recipe for disaster. Unless you’ve been running consistently over time, remember to ease yourself in SLOWLY!
With cycling however, there are much fewer niggles and pains. Unless you’re very inflexible, knee pain is unlikely, and cycling takes a lot less of a toll on your body. This is of course as long as you stay on the bike. A crash can leave you with some pretty nasty injuries, but these are rare and few and far between. If you ran for a year compared to cycled for a run, you would have a fraction of the injuries when cycling.
When it comes to cycling versus running, I would say cycling is a clear winner if you want to avoid injuries.
When I ran, I found my fitness levels increased very slowly. Over a few months I could only increase my distance by a few kilometres maximum. But get me on a bike, and my fitness increased rapidly.
Because it’s less intense on the body you can do it for longer and more often, and reap the rewards from this. Even though I hadn’t run for months, after being on a bike for a year, my running is now the best it’s ever been. It’s now a case of moving over my fitness and getting my muscles used to running.
Who Wins In Cycling Versus Running?
Ultimately, it’s up to you. You can’t force someone who would rather watch paint dry than get on a bike ride 50km, and vice versa.
Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. However, in my personal opinion and with my experience, I would definitely recommend cycling. Staying injury free is always important to me, and nothing can beat the freedom riding a bike gives you.