While a lot of people might consider themselves a runner, the world seems to be more strictly divided into cyclists and non-cyclists. But if you’ve ever thought about trying either sport, there are so many great health benefits to both. Here we take a look at the pros and cons of each.
Duathlons exist for a reason. Yes there are people who like to both run and ride and then there are even those who like to throw swimming in the mix and call themselves triathletes! Just ask one of our ambassadors, Amy Hopkins, who always dabbled in running, but in 2017 decided to get her first bicycle and give cycling a try. She avidly loves both sports and believes they complement each other.
- Running is a time-efficient way to get good cardio in. For example, you can get a good run in, in 30 minutes and do this five times a week to get fitter.
- Running burns fat and muscle, which means it helps to tone and is a good sport for weight-loss.
- You don’t need much gear for running – really just a pair of running shoes (and a good sports bra, if you’re a woman).
- Running can be “hard” on the body as it has a lot of impact on joints. If you’re a beginner, you may injure yourself easily. Long-distance runners also struggle with many injuries later on in life, linked to their hips and knees.
- Running doesn’t seem to have a high barrier to entry, but it’s very hard on the body for someone who is overweight or unfit. It feels painful and very uncomfortable in the beginning.
- While a pair of running shoes is not a lot of gear to invest in (compared to cycling), wearing the wrong ones can lead to a lot of injuries, so you need to spend time figuring out what shoes are right for your feet.
- Cycling is an excellent form of cardio exercise.
- Cycling is low-impact – compared to running – so it’s much easier on your joints.
- A person with any level of fitness or weight can jump on a bicycle or gym bike and get a workout in without the level of pain or difficulty that comes with running.
- Cycling can really take you places, so you can cycle for an hour and end up in a different town for coffee, which adds to its appeal.
- Speaking of heading to different towns, cycling is much more time-consuming than running. And to get a good ride in, you often need two to three hours (unless of course you’re on a gym bike, which is different, because you’re working constantly).
- Cycling is perceived to be more dangerous because bike jacking and bike theft is a real problem in South Africa. Some of our roads are also not deemed as safe – South Africa has a high rate of car accidents and drunk driving, which is a big cause of concern for cyclists. Cycling in a group is therefore much safer, whereas you can more easily go running alone through a park or along a boardwalk, depending on the area. That said, runners who run on the road are also vulnerable to cars.
- Cycling is expensive. At least a lot more expensive than running. So the barrier to entry here is less about fitness, but about resources. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t hop on a gym bike for “exercise”.
- If your bicycle setup is not right, this can also cause injuries.
It really depends on your lifestyle, but both are excellent forms of exercise. And you should warm-up and stretch adequately after each of the sports to prevent injuries.
Coach Steve Atwell recommends doing both. “Cross-training allows for the use of different muscles. If all you do is run, you’re much more likely to get injured than if you do multiple sports.” Cycling really helps build endurance, but isn’t as hard on the body as running, so you can go for longer and recover faster, which means that cycling does in fact help your running!