Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Difference Between Biking and Running: A Pictorial

Last summer I bought a Garmin Forerunner 305 to use when biking and running. Being a researcher, I am kind of a data nerd.  The Garmin collects a plethora of data about pace/speed, heartrate, time, and distance.  You can have it give you averages, current values, max values, etc.  Serious athletes would use this type of data to chart progress and design and follow training programs. 

I use it to make pictures.

And I've noticed these pictures provide an excellent illustration of the difference between the effort you exert while biking versus running.  Allow me to explain.

Exhibit A: Output from a cyclocross race on 1-30-11.
Note: I finished 4th in this race. The total number of participants is unimportant, but I can assure you it was more than 4.

Exhibit B: Output from a mountain bike ride at Kickapoo on 1-22-11

Exhibit C: Output from a 70 mile road ride on 9-26-10

Exhibit D: Output from a 6 mile training run on 1-29-11
Can you tell the difference?  Here's a hint - look at the red line in the charts which is showing my heartrate. The values for this series can be seen on the left axis and the scale is basically the same in all four figures, so they can be directly compared.  Bike rides, especially cyclocross and mountain bike rides, generate a much more volatile heart rate pattern than running.  Also, the peak heart rates that I hit on bike rides tends to be 10-15 bpm higher than when running (at least until my heart rate gets up to 160 during my runs).  So biking results in more anaerobic effort, while running is more aerobic.  I already knew this to be true, but it is cool to see the data support it.

The point? I think doing both cycling and running workouts is very good for me.

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