Cycling vs. Running

posted in: Running | 0

Good morning! Thursday is the new Friday, and that is never more true than when one has Friday off work. And yes, since you ask, I DO HAVE FRIDAY OFF WORK. Wooo! Anyway, enough bragging (for now….stay tuned on Twitter for plenty more).

I typically cycle to and from work each day, and normally only run in when I have plans in the evening. Most online calorie calculators imply that cycling to/from work is roughly equivalent to running one way. This never struck me as plausible, as running really feels SO much harder. It’s hard to actually work out how much cycling I do anyway, as a lot of time is spent sitting at traffic lights and of course this has an impact on the overall benefit of the time cycling.

So – which is actually better?


Well – now I am using my heart rate monitor, I can actually assess the benefits of each. And guess what? Running one way is hands down better than cycling both ways.

Interestingly, Garmin offers a “training effect” calculation on any activity you load onto Garmin Connect. This uses your heart rate to work out the benefit of the exercise you’ve done on your overall anerobic fitness. Of course, not having used the heart rate monitor prior to this month, I had never benefited from this.


Here’s their scale:

1.0 = minor

2.0 = Maintaining

3.0 = Improving

4.0 = Highly improving

5.0 = overreaching


Here are the key stats from my run home:

Average heart rate: 160bpm (86% max)

Calories burnt: 763kcal

Training effect: 4.3


And here is my cycle home:

Average heart rate: 115 (61% max)

Calories burnt: 177kcal

Training effect: 1.8


So this really hammers home for me that I should ensure I run to/from work at least once – ideally twice or more – a week. Cycling is free and efficient, and does work towards maintaining my fitness which is great. I am not knocking cycling as it is one of my very favourite things, and is as much about commuting as it is about exercise.

Running though will help me to achieve my fitness, health and weight goals like cycling just cannot. It’s great to have this suspicion confirmed, and to have more solid numbers supporting my decisions. Running one way is totally worth getting the train the other way. 

This week, I ran to/from work twice – mostly as it fit in with my plans. Hopefully I can do the same again next week.

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