Cycling - Running equivalency


I’m wondering how equivalent are cycling and running.

All my examples will be vague and with random numbers to understand my point, but for example :

If a mid level cyclist is able to workout 10h a week, is a mid level runner able to run 10h a week too ? ( same type of workouts and all that ).

I would guess that it’s not the case since it’s easier to do longer rides in the bike ( less physical impact ), so maybe a mid level runner can do 7h a week instead ?

I’m lost and have no clue about this since I’m new to running as a standalone sport.

FYI, I’m what I would consider a low mid level cyclist ( consistent 10h a week, up to 15h with block periodization ). I’m transitionning to running and I’m curious about this in order to being able to gauge where I stand.

My non-scientific N=1 is that it’s a 2:1 ratio from a time standpoint. So 2 hours of cycling is equivalent to 1 hour of running


“Equivalent” in what way though? Total work? Training load?

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It’s tough to compare the two. Especially since cycling fitness does not really translate very much to running fitness.

It’s much more difficult to do as much running as cycling in terms of time spent exercising, just from an injury risk standpoint. Even at the elite level, few runners will put in more than 12-14 hours per week. Cycling is much more gentle on the body. So much so that when I ran track and XC, I would be put on the bike whenever I was injured, and I would actually heal.

As someone who does both, I treat them pretty separately. Only time I try to make comparisons is in terms of total work/Kj, and that is largely for weight maintenance goals. For a 70kg runner such as myself, Garmin estimates around 95-100 kj per mile when paired with a Stryd pod.


I’d agree with roughly 2 cycling : 1 running.
I was a runner and did 10hrs per week. This was very stressful on the body.
Currently I ride about 10-12hrs per week and it’s easily managable.
Anecdotally when I do a 4hr Z2 ride the stress feels like I did a 2hr Z2 run.

As for TSS, I have a formula reverse engineered from somewhere (?) that is:
rTSS = (pace/threshold pace)^2 * 111
where pace is decimal and metric in min:sec/km


Also a former runner and I agree with you for the most part. But not all cycling miles are created equal. Mountain biking I’d say is 1:2 as far as physical exertion (for a hilly, flowy route). Uphill is probably 1:1, out on the flats… more like 1:4 (maybe more).

The physical pounding & impact is way more in running, which requires much longer recovery times. In terms of the physical toll on the body cycling is closer to swimming than running.


In terms of stress on the body, it is going to vary wildly, depending on the type of run and experience level. A max effort road marathon used to wreck my legs for the better part of a month. I would take two weeks off, go for an easy run, and still feel some soreness. And that’s off very solid training with a 90mpw peak and consistently over 60mpw.

I myself took about 5 months off running recently in order to focus on cycling. I did 5 miles my first run back and I couldn’t walk down stairs the day after. It was then I learned why so many cyclists hate running.


Running 100miles/week at 8min/miles is ~13.5hrs a week. This is ballpark where some pro runners would run. So I’d say as a starting point a pro runner vs a pro cyclist would be about 1:2 in terms of time they spend training.

Having said that, it’s going vary wildly based on the intensity of those hours and the type of runner/cyclist etc. But its a reasonable starting point estimation in my book.


A ~13:00 min 5000 meter runner would very comfortably click off their easy base miles at more like 6 min/mile. Probably even under that. At that level a 100 mile training week would actually be under 10 hours.

Running puts eccentric load on your leg muscles which cycling does not, transitioning will take time to strengthen muscles, tendons end ligaments.

I am a lifelong cyclist, I had never run, before I started 2 years ago. For the first few months a couple of minutes a day was all I could manage. I slowly built up the volume over many months until I could do easy Z2 runs of 30-40 minutes 3 times a week. I’ve not had any injuries despite running in minimal barefoot shoes. I ran my first 5km race in the spring and still had severe muscle soreness the next day because I had never done any running intensity above low z3.

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I will disagree with you on this. Most top level runners are not doing their easy base runs at sub-6 minute miles. For example, a number of articles on Kipchoge states he begins his base runs in the 8-9 minute per mile pace and slowly drops them to 6:30-7 by the end.

Conner Manz is a good one to look at since he seems to post everything on strava. He’s a 13:10 5K guy (among other PR’s he has on his profile). He’s got a number of recent weeks in 96-109 miles per week and his duration is 11-12 hours

A 2 hour run and a 4 hour ride (at say, zone 2) feel about the same from what they take out of me.

Similarly, in the past when I have focused on running, 10 hour per week was my upper limit. When I’ve done biking only, I could get to 20 hours per week. My body just can’t handle anything more than that

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Hmm. I should probably slow down my runs. I always felt that doing 5k pace + 2 min is plenty easy, but he seems to do a lot of stuff even slower than that.

Bob Kennedy used to say that during base he would just do 1h/10 miles twice a day, every day and it would bore him to tears. That was a long time ago, and who knows if he was even being accurate. I am sure training schedules vary widely and few top runners publish them in detail, so that’s a good point of reference when someone actually does.

The trend has been to slow down recovery runs. Base volume in the off season is still plenty fast for the normal human. 6-6:30 pace for a long run of 2-3 hours is faster than most people’s PRs.

After 6 miles in the morning, followed by an afternoon workout of 6 x mile at 4:25 with a one lap job in between (not to mention a 3 mile warm up & 3 mile cool down) will leave ya a bit tired the next day… so makes sense you slow down on the recovery days.

I realized that I was doing my easy runs to fast a few years back when listening to a Steve Magness podcast and reading some of his blog posts. He does a good job going into the training philosophies of different coaches (Renato Canova, Lydiard, Daniels, etc)

Most people running 100 miles per week are doing so at much faster than 8 mpm.
There are crazy people who are slower and still do over 100 miles per week, but that not the norm.

Im no expert but I guess a well developed oxygen system will transfer but it will take a bit of time for your muscles to adapt to the other sport. I have known good runners become good cyclists once they’ve adapted. I don’t really know any cyclist that has never run take up running, it probably does happen, but I don’t think I could :joy:

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What are you looking for with running?
Any particular goals in mind?

I kinda agree, they absolutely can run much faster than 8min/mile, but my understanding is many run their slow runs much slower than I’d originally expected. Another poster mentioned Kipchoge starts his easy runs around 9min pace. However, even if my numbers are off a bit averaging 7min pace for 100miles would be ~11.5hrs/week. So I’d say still around 1:2 for time spent vs. a pro cyclist. Again, just a very rough estimate, but ballpark still stands, I think.

Runners also add lots of outside non-running as well (as do cyclists) so the closer you look at this the muddier it gets.

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Joining french special forces.
I did different sports that include running ( 6y rugby, 2y tennis, 3y firefighter school as a teenager, some other stuff ).

It’s been 8 years though, and I never got into running as a standalone sport.

So It’s pretty much like I’m new ( I will just progress faster I guess ).

I’m just struggling figuring out how the sport compared to cycling in order to make my workout plans.

Thanks everybody for answering by the way.