4 Reasons Why Cycling Is Harder Than Running

While running and cycling seem like similar activities, the two forms of exercise are quite different.

Many people—even experienced athletes—believe that running is more difficult than cycling, but why?

In this article, we will explore the reasons why cycling is actually harder than running to help you decide which form of exercise is best for you.

With different muscles being used, body positions being taken, and environments encountered, there are a variety of factors that make cycling a more challenging form of exercise.

Why Cycling Is More Challenging Than Running

Cycling is a great way to stay active, but it can be much more challenging than running.

It’s not just the physical exertion of steering and pedaling that makes cycling harder; there are many other factors you need to consider if you want to make your ride easier.

I’m going to discuss some of the reasons why cycling is often harder than running.

1. The Impact Of Terrain On Running And Cycling

When it comes to running and cycling, terrain plays a huge role.

Looking at flat surfaces, there’s not too much difference between these activities.

Both runners and cyclists can reach high speeds quite easily with minimal energy output due to the lack of obstacles or inclines in their way.

But when you introduce hills into the equation, things start to change drastically.

challenging terrain during cycling

Cyclists have to use even more effort climbing up those steep slopes than runners do, as the extra weight from their bikes takes its toll during uphill battles.

Running also has its own challenges like hills, uneven surfaces, and heat but it is usually much easier than biking on the same terrain because your body position is less important in running than it is when riding a bike.

Meanwhile, downhill races mean gravity becomes your ally for runners.

However, for cyclists, this isn’t necessarily true as sharp turns or bumps can make descents just as difficult as ascents.

When faced with any kind of rough terrain while running or cycling, it soon becomes clear why people often find cycling harder than running.

downhill movement during cycling

Because it requires far more concentration and control over both body and machine in order to succeed.

This makes biking less accessible for beginners who may struggle to master such technical elements early on in their journey toward fitness mastery.

2. Muscles Used For Running And Cycling

Muscles used for these activities vary substantially; let’s look at how they contrast!

Firstly, we need to understand that both exercises use a broad range of muscles throughout the body.

For example, when you run your quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings all come into play. As for cycling it mainly works out the quads and glutes with an emphasis on core strength too. (1)

cyclist checking his glutes and core muscles

Running requires more of your entire body, using fat-burning muscle mass for extended periods of time.

On the other hand, cycling mainly calls on your leg muscles.

But what else sets them apart?

While running relies heavily on natural momentum to keep going – as your feet hit the ground they propel you forward – cyclists require extra effort to get up hills or accelerate.

This means that while both require intense physical exertion, cycling needs greater levels of stamina and endurance because you have to push yourself harder over longer periods of time.

3. Differences in Body Position

As a professional cyclist, I understand the importance of body position when it comes to performance.

While running is a more natural and comfortable way to exercise, cycling requires you to be in constant control of your body’s position at all times.

You must be able to adjust your posture depending on the terrain, wind resistance, and speed.

When running, you can easily adjust your pace and switch up your stride as needed.

However, with cycling, you must always maintain an upright posture and stay in the saddle as much as possible.

team cycling members maintaining their body position

This helps reduce wind resistance and increases overall efficiency while on the bike.

It also gives you a better view of what’s ahead so that you can plan accordingly.

Learning how to properly adjust your body position when cycling takes practice, but it’s worth the effort once you get it down pat!

4. Differences In Injury Risk For Running And Cycling

We all know how hard physical exercise can be on our bodies; however, certain activities present more risks than others.

Cycling is an activity that requires us to remain in a fixed position for extended periods of time, while running allows us to move around freely.

This difference in body positioning has implications when it comes to potential injuries.

Cyclists often suffer from overuse injuries due to the repetitive motion required to pedal a bike.

Cramps in their legs, lower back pain, or numbness in hands and feet can be common issues caused by excessive biking.

Not to mention potential jock itch infection because of cycling.

Beyond that, there’s a higher potential of fatal accidents and crashes with cycling compared to running.

cyclist having accident in the forest

On the other hand, running can put a strain on joints such as knees or ankles which may result in sprains or tears if proper technique isn’t used – but these types of injuries don’t tend to occur with cycling.

It’s also worth noting that overtraining injuries (burnout) can manifest differently depending on the type of exercise we’re doing.

So understanding the different risks associated with each form of exercise is essential for avoiding any painful setbacks!

My Verdict

Overall, I believe that cycling can be harder than running for a variety of reasons.

Cycling requires significant strength and endurance from the legs, as well as engaging the entire body to maintain balance.

This means that it requires a greater intensity of exercise than running, which often only engages the lower body muscles.

Additionally, professional cyclists tend to train more regularly and intensely than marathon runners; thus they need to be more mindful when it comes to rest days and recovery time.

At the end of the day, whether you choose to hit the pavement for a jog or take off on your bike for an adventure.

Just remember this age-old saying: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

So lace up those shoes and grab your helmet! As long as you enjoy what you’re doing and stay safe in the process then every workout will be worth it in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

Five minutes of light jogging or jumping jacks will elevate your heart rate.

Combine with some stretching to prime your muscles and joints for a more intense activity.

Start slowly and gradually increase your speed as you go.

For starters, try changing up your route now and then.

Exploring new trails or roads is always exhilarating and will give you something different to look forward to each time.

You could even invite a friend along for extra motivation and companionship.

And if you’re planning on going solo, why not challenge yourself with tougher terrain?

It’ll put those cycling skills to the test!

Another great way to make cycling more enjoyable is by creating goals for yourself.

Whether that’s setting distance targets or aiming for faster times, having a purpose will help keep you motivated and focused during your ride.

Plus, when you reach your goal at the end of it all, the satisfaction will be tenfold!

TIP: Don’t forget to reward yourself after achieving a milestone – whether that means treating yourself to a snack or taking a break from training for a day.

Doing so will incentivize future rides as well as boost your confidence in tackling bigger challenges ahead!

Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals like carbohydrates, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats will give your body the necessary energy boost for peak performance.

Additionally, staying hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day is key for maintaining concentration and keeping fatigued at bay during exercise.

Finally, supplementing with electrolytes may be beneficial since they help regulate fluid balance which affects muscle contractions.

According to the National Safety Council, an average of 1,260 people died from bike accidents alone in 2020.

This is a statistic that should remind us all of the importance of being careful while out on the road.

To stay safe while running or biking, there are some key tips you should keep in mind.

To start with, make sure you always wear protective gear such as helmets and reflective clothing if you’re going to be running or biking at night.

Also, take your time and don’t push yourself too hard.

Go at your own pace so you can pay attention to any hazards around you.

Last but not least, make sure you follow traffic laws while riding your bike.

This includes obeying speed limits, stopping at red lights, and staying within marked paths whenever possible.

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