# comparing uni'ing to running to biking

Mikefule.chey0@timelimit.unicyclist.com writes:
>I’d rather ride 10 miles on a 20 than run 2 miles.

Well, I have been thinking about this very sorta thing lately.

When I rode my century last month, the damn ride took 9.5 hours of
pedaling (and 2.5 hours of rest). There was no point for the first 50
miles at which I did not ride all out when conditions permitted, so at the
halfway pt, I’d averaged over 12.5 mph and had hardly rested. So I
wondered what my ride was like, over all, compared to someone on zero
wheels (the runner) and to someone on two wheels (yeah, the b word).

I really can’t guess, and I know that in some ways we’re talking about
apples and pregnant pandas here (or bananas, if that’s your thing). But
don’t you think a 12 hour century ride would be at least as taxing as a
26.2 mile marathon run? I’m not about to go out and test this for myself.
Has anyone ever done both? If not, I may just have to strap on some
jogging shoes, so help me out.

And as for biking, I usually tell bikers that my guess is that unicycling
is 2-3 times harder than biking over the same distance (that’s because I
maintain a 150 cadence while theirs is like 75 over the same distance, and
they coast down hills, and they get to shift on uphills). So would my
century be like riding a bike 250 miles?

Guesses welcome.

David

Co-founder, Unatics of NY

My guess is that energy expenditure by a unicyclist has much more in common with that of a runner rather than that of a bicyclist.

Someone used to unicycling will use less effort that a runner to travel at the same speed but like a runner we expend energy every step/pedal of the way.

As to figuring out what the equivalent to a unicycle century is, I vote we get a cyclist to pedal at a cadence of 150, in a 1 to 1 gear, up just enough of an incline to prevent coasting for around 10 hours and see how far they go

Re: comparing uni’ing to running to biking

Your sense of drama is beginning to wane and it has me worried.

Try this: Your century is like rowing across the Atlantic in a cast iron tub using fishing poles as oars and having the carcass of a blue whale in tow.

OK, now you try, David.

Re: comparing uni’ing to running to biking

The only reasonable guesstimate I can make is that when I am going hard either biking, unicycling or running I feel as if I’ve done the same amount of exertion after the same amount of time. ie after running, biking or unicycling hard for say, two hours, I feel the same amount of knackeredness (is there such a word?) afterwards.

Of course, that depends on pushing yourself at roughly the same amount of intensity. You might be able to get a rough idea by riding with a heart rate monitor and keeping your HR similar between biking, running and unicycling.

I think it would also depend on how specifically trained you are. If you’ve never run before but you have big unicycle specific muscles then it will be a lot tougher when you try to run for 12hrs.

That said I think it would be tougher to ride a unicycle for 12hrs than to run a marathon (b/c a marathon can probably be walked in 6-7hrs).

Pregnant pandas are a good thing.

Ken

Re: comparing uni’ing to running to biking

As a distance unicyclist, ultramarathon runner and exercise scientist, I
have to say that it is TIME and INTENSITY which are the predominant factors
to level of difficulty. Generally if you are going all out, it at about the
2hour mark where things get hard. Sticking to a hard intensity may bring it
up to 3hrs. I recently ran 50miles (80km) at a slow pace no worries, but If
I went flat out for a marathon I would be very stuffed. This is why I
believe the 25km distance is innapropriate for unicycling, and it should be
closer to 60km-70km. We need to realise that we are only beginning to get
involved in the art and science of distance unicycling, so should set a
solid standard straight off the bat. Then I can have a good argument why
other sportspeople can be impressed with what we can achieve, instead of
picking arbitrary distances. Olympic distances are difficult for a reason-
they are based on the 3 energy systems fueling our body…

Also I have done 50km on a 24" in the Sydney to Gong- get a bigger wheel as
it gets too frustrating!

Re: comparing uni’ing to running to biking

“Joel Penson” <joelpenson@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:Xns92AA81769A6A5JoelPenson@203.132.224.7
> As a distance unicyclist, ultramarathon runner and exercise scientist, I
> have to say that it is TIME and INTENSITY which are the predominant
factors
> to level of difficulty.

I’d say you were right about intensity, anyway.

Generally if you are going all out, it at about the
> 2hour mark where things get hard.

If you’re going all out, 100 meters or 10 seconds is too far for you - you
can see it in the 10-meter splits sprinters post: accelerate, coast, slow.

> Sticking to a hard intensity may bring it
> up to 3hrs. I recently ran 50miles (80km) at a slow pace no worries, but
If
> I went flat out for a marathon I would be very stuffed. This is why I
> believe the 25km distance is inappropriate for unicycling, and it should
be
> closer to 60km-70km.

Funny, I’d’ve used the same argument for 5K and 10K distances.

> We need to realize that we are only beginning to get
> involved in the art and science of distance unicycling, so should set a
> solid standard straight off the bat. Then I can have a good argument why
> other sportspeople can be impressed with what we can achieve, instead of
> picking arbitrary distances. Olympic distances are difficult for a reason-
> they are based on the 3 energy systems fueling our body…

That’s an amusing statement, given how many different distances Olympic
runners (for example) race. 3, ha.
>
> Also I have done 50km on a 24" in the Sydney to Gong- get a bigger wheel
as
> it gets too frustrating!

Coker, Coker, Coker, Coker…

Re: Re: comparing uni’ing to running to biking

There have been discussions pointing out differences between elite athletes and the rest of us average people. Given identical training regiments, elite athletes will not only travel faster, but will be able to stay intense longer durations compared to the average athlete. Physiologically, the two are as different as an apple and an orange.

Only the elite can hold a time trial effort for 2 hours. The rest of us have to train extremely hard to hold 85 % of maximum heart rate for 1 hour. Hence the 40K for cycling, and the 25K for unicycling— used as very challenging “flat” distances for non elite athletes to travel in 1 hour or less.

For most of us, a distance greater than 25K must be ridden at a lower intensity, thus making it a distance ride, or event. The 25K should be the premier event in unicycling because it is short enough to maintain a near maximum effort (testing speed and power), but long enough to test endurance. What we are doing is testing speed, power, and endurance in a single event.

dan

Whoah! The question has been transmogrified…

We started on which is easier, a given distance on a unicycle or running, and now we seem to be comparing the effort required to perform each activity for a given time.

Within broad limits, I’d say it is ‘obvious’ that any physically demanding activity carried out for an hour at peak output will knacker you about as much as any other, give or take. Run at maximum speed for an hour, cycle at maximum speed for an hour, swim at maximum speed for an hour… each of these will leave you similarly drained.

But where the discussion started (on another thread, but it was a quote from one of my posts which seeded this present discussion) was whether riding a given distance on a uni would be easier or harder than running.

Now if I recall correctly from my bicycling days, a properly set up bicycle is the most efficient way of transforming muscular energy into forward motion (on the flat). No doubt about it, it’s more efficient than a dolphin swimming, a cheetah running, and so on. This is because all of the effort goes into forward movement. No muscles are needed to support your weight (other than perhaps an incautiously packed love-muscle) and no muscular energy is used for balance.

So, a bicyclist riding flat out for an hour will cover, say, 25 miles, whilst a runner of similar ability running flat out for an hour will cover, say, 12 miles. (Figures are examples and may not be accurate.) At the end of the hour, each athlete is similarly drained of energy, but the bicyclist has travelled further.

But what about the unicyclist? Here’s where technique is vital, because the unicyclist DOES use muscular energy to maintain balance, both for and aft and, to a lesser extent, side to side. Thus an unskilled unicyclist in peak physical form may be absolutely and utterly drained after 5 miles in an hour, even though he could have run 12 miles in the same time. The skilled unicyclist, however, might cover 12 - 15 miles in the hour (given a suitable machine).

Thus, at this end of the range, unicycling is approximately as efficient as running.

At less than peak output, though, I suspect that all of us could cover a lot more distance on a uni than running, given either an identical amount of time or (shifting the ground again) a similar amount of calories. This is because I believe that unicycling is more efficient at less than 100% output, where maintaining fore and aft balance is substantially easier.

[QUOTE]
Originally posted by peter.bier
[B]My guess is that energy expenditure by a unicyclist has much more in common with that of a runner rather than that of a bicyclist.

Paul and I have tried this sort of ting out. Paul running and me on a 24, round our local ( fairly large) park when my ankle was still not up to running.
Paul was faster on the up-hills, and through the woods, while I had to hold back to stay at his pace on the flat stuff, overall we kept pace with each other pretty well. However Pauls heart rate at the end was WAY higher than mine. Hehad worked a lot harde and acheived the same time and distance.
I think unicycling is easier than running as you don’t have to lift your own weight with each pedal stoke, most of it’s on the saddle

Not scientifly proven of course, by hey this is a newsgroups, who cares about science.

Sarah

I’m with Sarah on this, your legs are not constantly lifting your entire weight a few inches each step. I have never been passed by a runner when I am on a Coker. I am beginning to pass bicycles occassionally…even some that are being ridden and aren’t parked. I have also passed many dogs, cats, squirrels, ducks, and geese and these were all animals that were in VERY good physical condition.

You want answers-I’ll give them to you straight up. I have done a lot of all three disciplines over the last 15 years. It’s much harder to find differences when comparing unicycling and bicycling than it is similarities. The two are close cousins. Running on the other hand is a monster in another jungle. One is hard pushed to find similarities between running and unicycling. The comparison is similar to traveling over the road in a Toyota Land Cruiser and a Ferrari. Both will get you there, but one is slow and burns a lot more gas, beating you to the point of exhaustion, while the other is fast, uses very little gas, and leaves you feeling rather fresh and invigorated. A little exaggerated but it helps in making the point.

With the advent of the Coker, and even more so with internally geared hubs, the gap between cycling and unicycling is closing quickly. Inches of travel per revolution and the ability to shift, or adjust as resistance increases or decreases, is the only variable keeping the two from being sisters rather than cousins. The ability to use upper body strength effectively on a bicycle, and it inherently being more aerodynamic than the unicycle, are what keeps the two from being virtually identical in terms of efficiency. Balance is a small issue in over the road unicycling, unless you consider fear associated with traveling at fast speeds.

Muscles used in both unicycling and running is closer to those used when bicycling. This fact, other than all are considered as good cardiovascular exercise,is almost the only similarite. I have always advocated that if coaches only new the motion similarities between unicyling and running, the unicycle would be used as a recovery tool at low intensities after a hard running session. It simply mimics the motion without the impact.

The difference in running compared to the other two are vast. Running is a weight bearing activity. Hips, tendons, knees, and bones, are very susceptible to injury by comparison. Propelling yourself without the use of a wheel, or wheels is extremely inefficient by comparison. Thus running is much harder, and much more taxing than over the road unicycling. In saying that, I’m not suggesting running doesn’t have benefits of its own that the other two don’t. We are talking about efficiency. Running is simply a different beast in a different jungle

dan

Fascinating idea.

So would you suggest that keen runners should learn to unicycle in anticipation of receiving an injury which might require uniphysiotherapy?

Or should the injured runner learn to unicycle whilst actually suffering from the injury - presumably with the added benefit that the challenge would take his/her mind off the pain?