muni vs. running as training

I was late coming home today, was riding the Schlumpf over my local muni hill, and Penny (that’s my wife) turned up going for a run. So cos of this, we went off on a loop round the trails, with me keeping the pace.

The trails are mainly not very technical, but with enough steep and rooty bits to make it worth riding a muni on. It’s been wet, so it’s a bit muddy and all the roots are like ice. And I was riding a slick tyre.

Anyway, enough excuses, basically what we discovered was that it’s pretty easy to pace a runner on the flat, and downhill, but as soon as you hit a technical section or an uphill the runner is off ahead. I think it’ll be fantastic training for muni riding, because it forces you to ride as fast as you can on exactly the sections that you’d normally slow down for.

I guess the fact runners are faster than unicycles may be obvious to some, given that in fell races, the runners often get better times than bikes over similar routes, but I didn’t realise that even in an area with only short technical sections, they can be faster.


i uni while my mom runs she find the unicycle paces the runner good

I used to run the same trails that I now muni on, and I would NEVER go back to running! It would be TOTALLY boring now compared to muni, plus the impact of your feet constantly hitting the ground set you up for more knee, shin and foot injuries/problems than muni. The biggest plus to muni vs running IMO is that muni is so much more fun, and a much better workout than running.:smiley:

i think both terry and joe have good points…yes the runner is a great way to get yourself to keep pace but the muni is probly not only better for your legs but more excersise too. the rotating movement is alot more effective that the “lift-stomp” motion of running.

thats exactly what i was going to say, about it being easier on your knees and all.

what i like to do though is have my little brother get on his bike and act as a “rabbit” and he will go flying up the hills on his bike and i try to keep up with him. I find that it helps me to improve my hill times.

I was talking about a person other than you doing the running, and you keeping up with them. That particular runner doesn’t ride a unicycle or want to.

It’s a bit humbling to realise that on almost any technical terrain, a decent runner will beat a similarly fit and skilled munier. It’s well worth going on muni rides with runners just to see this in action, and to give you motivation to ride fast over that kind of terrain.

As for the running is worse than muni thing that seems to have appeared, I do a bit of running and lots of muni-ing, so I’d agree that muni is generally more fun, but I would say that once you’re on proper hard terrain, running is way more fun than you’d expect. I’m not into plodding around on wide trails, or running on roads (yawn), but running on singletrack has many of the same good things about it that muni has, especially up and down hills, and taking purposefully difficult routes down things.


I can cover distance cross-country much faster on a muni than I can run. The only place I’d be quicker running would be up a very steep or technical climb. But I’m a useless runner. There are runners I see sometimes on my way home from work (slightly up hill all the way) who I can only just keep up with on the muni. I reckon a really good runner could beat me outright over that route. It would be interesting to race a good runner against a really quick xc muni rider on a 29er or something. I reckon the muni would gain on the smoother bits, but the runner would come back on the climbs and technical stuff.


muni > running coz you don’t damage your knees :smiley:

<tries to count the number of times a knee has hit a rock; runs out of fingers>

Nope, I’m not buying it!


Plus a lot of running joint damage is supposedly because runners are generally idiots and don’t think about their technique at all, and tend to overtrain and run badly, or push themselves too hard in events, do events when they’re not ready (like the idiots who do the marathon with 2 months training), do events despite being injured etc etc.


phil i rekon you just can’t unicycle, or you enjoy the punishment a little 2 much :stuck_out_tongue:

<looks at calendar; notices half marathon in two weeks>

Ah. Erm…


Here’s a simple and effectve test: Ride your usual muni route, or ride a 4-6 mile trail of your choice. Next day RUN the same trail and distance. Compare the two and decide which activity gave you the best workout, which was more fun, more challenging, which, if either, caused any pain/injuries in you knees, shins, feet, etc. Of course, you would probably not feel much pain after just ONE short run, but most likely would after a more prolonged period. For me, and I’m sure MOST other uni-ers, it’s no contest; Muni wins hands down!:stuck_out_tongue: By comparison, running is B O R I N G!!!

Here’s a cool online caculator that tells you calories burned per activity. Enter your weight and duration of activity. Since they don’t list unicycling (of the more than 200 activities) you’ll have to choose something that would be similar in exertion. Based on my weight, and using their chart, running a 9 min. mile (which is not especially fast) burns 957 calories per hour. And that doesn’t seem to take into account any rough, hilly terrain. So muni would probably add a significant amount to that.

I don’t think muni is that much better on the knees than running. Bikeing certainly is, but on a unicycle you are forced to square pedal - especially when riding offroad, and that is not that great on the knees.

You burn more calories running and have a higher heart rate simply because you are supporting your own weight. However, when I muni I get much more tired because it’s like doing sprint intervals (going up and down hills) vs standard distance running.

I find the largest disadvantage of running is that any gravity karma you gain is wasted; it takes loads of effort to go uphill but once you’re there it takes a fair bit of effort just to go down again!

I find it means planning routes differently; when biking or muni-ing around Malvern I plan routes around the descents and the best ways to the top of them; when running I try to keep the gradients as smooth as possible.


Again, for me that is simply not true. I burn far more calories riding muni than running the same route; right off the bat you are carrying about 15 lbs of gear; uni plus camelback and protective gear. Now you’re probably going to say that you don’t “carry” the uni, but it IS extra weight that you are either pushing or pulling that you don’t have while running; ESPECIALLY UPHILL! And muni is MUCH less overall stress on your knees vs running, because there is NO impact! Case in point: I used to have recurring knee, shin and ankle pain when I used to run (even though my technique was deemed “very good and efficient” by more seasoned runners) and now, many years later, in my 50’s, I have ZERO of those problems. So at least for me, that is my experience.:smiley:

Phil - you need to find steeper hills. Running down steep hills you can kind of let yourself fall down them. The back of Mam Tor is a fantastic place to do this, just bomb down the grass slope, it’s as steep as, but soft grass so falling down it wouldn’t hurt too much. Some proper fell runner type came past us going oh so fast, which looked even more fun, they have the falling down hills thing just so sorted.

It’s silly to say you burn more calories doing either running or muniing a certain distance, because it obviously depends so much on terrain. I’ve ridden 50 mile muni rides in a day, no way could I run 50 miles, but there’s a short loop of my local trails that would kill me if I rode it all because it requires so much hopping on some of the uphills, but is easy to run. Obviously on the flat, riding muni requires way way less energy assuming you’ve got okay technique, and on steep uphills and technical hoppy stuff way more energy, so it depends on what your riding is like and how good you are.

For me, running is only boring if I run boring routes and aren’t having to pay attention to what you’re going over. It also has the advantage that it’s much easier to run close enough to hold a conversation with someone, rather than muni, where you tend to be more spread out to avoid taking out other riders in a crash.

If you’re riding muni and there’s no impact on your knees, are you not falling off much, riding drops, or riding long hills? I’ve certainly got knee aches after long rides, particularly ones with 3000 feet or more descent on them.


Last fall I did the Terry Fox Run on my 24" muni. The bikers and I started at the same time, and after the initial uphill, the bikers left me behind. A couple minutes after that, the runners started passing me. Uni is more fun, but a runner who is in shape is faster :wink:

Semi-related, it was raining today so I decided to try the muni on the treadmill. It could work, but it’s not as easy as I would think :wink: