I’ve been running for over 10 years. We’ve all been running from, towards, or for something for as long as we can remember. I’ve been running towards the horizon, running long distances. I’m game for anything that is over 400 meters. The main motivation for me to run has always been to get faster, quicker and fitter to play basketball better. As is often the case, the means become the end and keeping sight of the original goal, we chance upon other goals in the distance to strive to. I can’t even remember when I started running just for the sake of it because I don’t think I’ve ever realized that until recently.
In spite of my love for running, the only competitive races I enter are marathons. The first time I ran one, I just wanted to finish it. Back then 42 kms seemed very daunting. Now it seems possible and manageable, although its still a bitch.
So I’ve been running long distances for a long while. A fortnight ago I took up cycling as well and have been pedaling long distances over it as well. It has 20 inch wheels so an hour on it is like two hours on a normal cycle probably. After a couple of hours journey, by foot or on wheels, one feels a high and the body crumbles up a bit.
Here are some of the differences I’ve observed between running and cycling long distances, 30 kms each.
Verdict: Running drains you more. There are two sides to that, as you need a little more time to recover properly after a long run and as for your cycling sessions, they can be spaced in closer together.
Running, I’ve found leaves me hungry, very hungry but funnily enough I can’t stomach a lot of food right after the run. A couple of helpings can be wolfed down but that’s about it. I guess this is because of the large amount of water I gulp down in between and after the run. The next morning I can eat like a wolf. My long runs are usually in the evening, to avoid the heat. You’d rather run with the sun coming down as you move along instead of running and having the temperature soar up along with your mileage.
Cycling, the damage to the body after a long session doesn’t do much to hurt the appetite. Sherlock Holmes would avoid eating while working on a case so that the body’s resources aren’t wasted in digesting. Maybe running requires the body to work on repairing the tissues and as such you don’t feel like chomping down too much.
Verdict: I can eat more after cycling than after running. It ought to be the opposite, but this is how it usually is.
Long distance athletes experience euphoric highs after a session. There may be some differences between the highs of cycling and running, this is from personal experience and not a scientific study.
Running, gives a high but if you run beyond your lactate threshold the high won’t linger for too long and the fatigue that sets in will overpower it. I’ve frequently had bouts of insomnia after long runs also.
Cycling, gives you a high and it exercises your heart more than running does, so maybe that has something to do with it also.
Verdict: Running gives a more intense high if done within limit, otherwise cycling keeps you up for longer.
Again, all this isn’t gospel based on a scientific study, just observations from personal experience. If I had to give up either running or cycling, I would give up cycling mainly because it’s easier to run than it is to find a proper place to cycle and because of my long association with running.