Monday, March 23, 2009

Cycling versus running

The newest member of our cycling group made an inference on her Facebook page that running was the best of the 3 triathlon sports. My only thought was that she must be insane. How could running ever be better then cycling?

I thought about this a lot yesterday as I went for run versus riding the bike. This had less to do with preference and more to do with the 20+ mph wind gust we were experiencing. Currently, I am only running for a little cross-training. So I have a nice little 3.3 mile route from the house that takes me through the older parts of Santa Rosa. On Sunday, I decided to go run at Spring Lake Park. It's a beautiful park in the city with a comfortable 3.7 mile loop. It also has hills.

In fact, you start on a hill. So up I go and from the minute I start I am feeling slow. Very slow. And this is by no means a big hill. So over the top I start my descent and this is where I really notice the difference between running and cycling. If I was on my bike I could simply quit working and let the bike and gravity carry me down the hill. On foot, I am still running. Maybe not has hard as the climb but I am still exerting energy.

My heart rate is another significant difference between when I run versus when I ride. I feel like I am putting out about the same effort but it is higher when I run. Coach Tim finally pointed out what should have been obvious. When cycling, your upper body is really just along for the ride. But in running, the swinging of your arms engages more muscle groups so of course your heart rate will be higher.

As I make my way around the lake I say good morning to my fellow joggers. Less then 25% say anything back. WTF! It's very hard to pass a fellow cyclist on the road and not get a wave or at least a head nod. Even in my years before cycling, I was amazed at the number of runners who plug in the Ipods and disconnect from the world. Try that on the road during a ride and you are just asking for a ambulance ride.

As I reach the half way mark, I am really tired. I don't know if it is the small hills or the really intense ride I did on Saturday, but I am not feeling it. If I were on the bike I would simply change the route to something a little easier. As in - let's avoid hills. But when running around Spring Lake there is only 1 route. So you are forced to man up and finish the run you started. (There are actually more routes but they are all longer and hillier and that didn't seem like my best option.)

As the run was winding down I finally found my old hill rhythm. Work up the climb and then recover on the descent. I am feeling a little better but finding it hard not to stop. I am also being blown sideways by the wind. It wasn't until the final mile that I felt I was running well. Still slow, but well.

As I finally make it back to the car I check my watch and was pleasantly suprised. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. After a little stretching, very little, I head home. I fired up the laptop to enter the data and discover that I was only running about 10 seconds a mile slower then usual. So it was not as bad as I felt.

As I change out of my simple wardrobe of black tights and gray shirt (versus a full multi-colored matching bike kit), I start to feel a little better about the run. I also decide it is time to increase the distance, speed and hill work. Just as long as it doesn't interfere with my rides.


2 Comment(s):

Sarah said...

I clearly have a lot of blog catch-up to do.

I liked this post a lot. I felt your angst on the run!! We should try running together. I don't know when. But maybe?

I agree that runners are a different breed...they don't say hi to each other. And you never really get a break running unless you stop to walk. Ugh.

It usually takes me about 15 minutes of running before I can feel good about it. Sigh...I guess it's time to get back to it, huh?

See you this weekend!!

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