Bike vs. Run

Posted by on Apr 18, 2011 in Bike, Races | 12 Comments

Apples and Oranges.

Biking and running are two very different athletic activities. And other than biking, one is not superior to the other.

I used to run. But not much anymore. I’ve probably ran 50 miles in the last 10 years. 45 of them within the last 2 months. 13 of them on Saturday. I’m still not exactly sure what motivated me to try the SLC Half Marathon, but here are a couple of things: Work paid the entry fee. And a few guys at work goaded me into it. When the trash talk* starts flyin’ I tend to do stupid things. Like become a vegan (more on that tomorrow), or a half marathon. And so I “trained”. If running now and again can be considered anything remotley near training. However, I was confident I could fake my way through the 13 miles . I mean, how hard could it be?

Not very. Actually.

At least, not at the pace I ran. Oh, I could see how something like that could be very difficult. The running pain cave might be a little darker than the mountain biking pain cave. For me, it is. Maybe that has something to do with 12 years of bike racing experience vs. 1 day of running races. Although, on Saturday, I just plodded along at a nice pace. Not too fast, not too slow. I finished a little faster than I anticipated: 1:44:12. Not exactly fast, but the 4,000 people behind me were slower. Oh, and a couple 12 year old kids beat me. And so did a lot of girls. But thanks to Lynda, K.C. and several others, I’m used to getting chicked.

You read that right. 4,444 people finished the half marathon. I was 484th. Former blogger, Aaron finished 2 minutes ahead of me (dammit!) and was the 400th overall finisher. 83 people crossed the line in those 2 minutes. Which is to say… a lot of people run. Why?

*I did win lunch from a coworker, who was just sure he would beat me.

Bike vs. Run

Running Pros:

1. Cheap. A pair of decent running shoes can cost $30. Really nice ones are not that much more.

2. Available. One can run just about anywhere, year-round.

3. Easy to take on the road. Pack an extra pair of shoes and shorts, and voila!

4. No equipment. Shoes. And… well that’s pretty much it. Anything else is technically optional.

5. No learning curve. No singletrack or peloton skills needed.

6. Lots of companions. Everyone runs, apparently. 8,000 people did the SLC half/full marathon.

7. Short shorts are not only acceptable, but encouraged.

Running Cons

1. It can be terribly boring, especially on the pavement.

2. No coasting.

3. Slow.

4. Everyone runs. I finished a half marathon. Big deal. So did 4,500 other people—at the same event.

5. Stiff legs. Oh my. The legs… so stiff.

6. The culture borders dangerously close to the triathlon weirdness.

7. Short shorts are not only acceptable, but encouraged.

I’ve (almost) enjoyed getting back into running. I might stick with it, a little. But on the trail. Running on pavement is worse than biking on pavement. But the weather is breaking, and the trails are starting to dry out. At least, the lower elevation trails. The White Rim TT is Friday, and after that, well, after that, it’s bike racin’ season. Nevertheless,  I could be talked into a few trail running excursions. Maybe.

Bike Pros:

1. Fast. 50 miles on a mountain bike doesn’t take 15 hours.

2. Riding down hill is not just has hard as riding uphill.

3. Coasting.

4. Thrill. Is anything better than flying down winding singletrack?

5. Very little impact. Did I mention how sore my legs are today?

6. Not dominated by mom-cliques. (No offense moms!)

7. Bike shorts are not short. Tight, yes. But not short.

Bike Cons:

1. Hahah! Bike cons?

2. OK, OK. So maybe there a few…

3. Expensive entry. (That’s what she said. Oh snap!)

4. Lots of other gear to buy: shoes, helmet, repair/maintenance tools, chamois, jersey, etc.

5. Skills need to be learned for mountain biking or road racing.

6. Repairs may need a mechanic.

7. Lance Armstrong.

The biggest bike (numbers) race I’ve ridden in? Maybe LOTOJA? About 1,000 racers? Most mountain bike races have a few hundred participants. Why is running so gigantic? Is it the low cost? I can understand that, but riding a bike is so much more sustainable. No runner’s knee. No shin splints. No cracked heels. No… all the other maladies that plague runners. There are two kinds of runners: those who are injured, and those will get injured. I won’t say that riding a bike is more fun. It is. But I won’t say that, because we all have our own version of fun. But still.

I learned two things on Saturday:

1. It’s impossible to look stupid at a running race. I tried to dress up like a dork—Really short shorts, head band, wrist bands—I looked just like everyone else.

2. Everybody looked like they wanted to die.

Will I run another half-marathon?

Yeah. Maybe. On a trail. It’s like Aaron said afterward, “I think we made our point.” And what was that point?

I’m not really sure.




  1. mtb w
    April 18, 2011

    Very funny (and true), particularly the pros and cons! Just be careful, you have biking, now you’ve gotten back to running – it’s only a short, skip and a jump (into the pool) to add swimming.

  2. Bob
    April 18, 2011

    Thank you for being a part of a police shut down of all the thoroughfares in my neighborhood and thank you for spending my tax dollars.

  3. JZ
    April 18, 2011

    “Everybody looked like they wanted to die.” True that. It amazes me that people actually pay for photos of themselves running. The last few years I have coincidentally been riding up Emigration Canyon when the marathon (I don’t know which one and maybe there is more than one) is coming down the canyon and those folks look just plain miserable.

  4. Mike
    April 18, 2011

    The Hotter N Hell 100 in Wichita Falls, TX had 13,067 riders last year at their event, granted only 720 were USCF racers. Nothing like a 100 mile bike ride in Texas in late August!!!

  5. Aaron
    April 18, 2011

    First things first. If you look at the finishing times, I’m actually tied for 399th place. You better not take that 1 place away from me, damnit!

    I didn’t realize that over 4000 people had finished the 1/2 marathon. Sadly, if you look at our relative finishes in the 1/2 marathon versus the last two Park City P2P races, we are both significantly better runners than mountain bike racers.

  6. slowerthensnot
    April 18, 2011

    No taint issues with running?

    • Grizzly Adam
      April 18, 2011

      No, but there’s nasty chafing!

  7. Filip
    April 18, 2011

    I would move #4 on Bike Cons to Pros

    • Grizzly Adam
      April 18, 2011

      Good point.

  8. rabidrunner
    April 19, 2011

    Running has Lance Armstrong too, you know. So you could add him the the con list for running. The year he ran Boston, they gave him his own ribbon to break … even though he finished almost a whole hour after the winners. WTF!

    I read your history of running post. Very entertaining. My little punk neighbor was the state cross country champion last year. His advice? “Run so hard that you feel you’re gonna pass out. Then stay there for a half hour.”

    Also, I want to know where you’re getting your $30 runnings shoes, or the nice ones that just cost a little more. Either you’re onto something, or you’ve discovered the source of the chronically injured among the running community.

    And Mom Clique…? Do I fit into that? Not sure. I think I prolly do. Pardon me while I self reflect. After which I’ll go bust out a bunch of 400s on a track.

    • Grizzly Adam
      April 19, 2011

      Cheap shoes are not ideal. Only possible. Like these.

  9. Nick
    April 19, 2011

    Great Post!
    Trail Running is the perfect compliment to MTB….Although I have found the Ultra running community WAY nicer, accepting, and all around more mellow…One example the #1 ultra runner in country Karl Meltzer wins a 100 miler at 3-4 Am and stays all day at the sidelines cheering on people finishing at 5pm (just sayin)..If my wife could choose to crew me in a Ultra running race or a endurance MTB race she would pick the Ultra every time because of the people alone…I love Mountain Biking and I love events like the P2P…Give a race like the Speedgoat 50K at Snowbird a shot and you may find something extremely difficult, beautiful, and rewarding and I guarantee there wont be 4500 people giving that course a go!!
    Last thing a cheap pair of shoes is the same as a cheap component you get what you pay for…(Hoka Bondi B)

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