Biking vs. Running #I’dRatherBeRunning

I keep getting questions about the biking so I after a week with the bike and 4 bike rides under my belt, I thought it was time to write a post about it.

Here’s the thing. I put off getting a bike for the longest time because I was afraid I’d get hurt (it’s been 30 years, yo!) and I was afraid of riding in traffic on our narrow country roads with no shoulders, and I didn’t want to have to drive somewhere to exercise, and because I knew that I’d have to bike twice as long as I would have to run to burn the same amount of calories and I’m all about efficiency. I had 110 reasons why I didn’t want to replace running with biking as my primary means of exercise.

But I finally caved and got a bike because it was my last ditch effort at finding a fitness activity that I can enjoy enough to actually do it on a regular basis.

And you know what? Every single one of the reasons I put off getting a bike? Was totally valid. 

I avoid biking many days simply because I’m afraid I will a) fall and get terribly hurt or b) get hit by a car and die. (Running seems much safer than biking; I have no statistical evidence, but I feel MUCH safer as a runner on the roads.) And because I don’t feel like spending 60 minutes to burn 300 calories when I can do that much more safely in half the time.

But I do like biking. It just isn’t running.

I don’t get the same high that I get when I’m running, or the same sense of accomplishment. And I can’t totally lose myself in my music because I’m much too busy thinking about the car coming up behind me and if the driver will see me, and coaching myself to jump forward and THEN put my feet down when I need to get off the bike (rather than my instinctive habit, which is to just put my feet down — and that hurts. To say nothing of the fact that it is a fall waiting to happen.)

I am anticipating with great fear and trepidation that first fall. I know it’s coming. I just hope it’s not too horrible when it happens.

If you think I’m being dramatic, may I remind you that I took a terrible fall running that left me with a nasty scar on my knee and a thumbnail that has yet to grow back in normally two years later. If I can hurt myself that badly running, I shudder to think what damage I can do to my person on a bicycle. On narrow roads with lots of cars and no shoulder.

I tried to go out early this morning (6:30 AM) when I thought there would be fewer cars, but evidently the old nine-to-five workday is a thing of the past. It’s broad daylight at 6:30, and the cards are whizzing past like they do at 8:30 during the school year. The best time to bike is around 10am when everyone is safely at work, but by then the sun is blazing hot. Or first thing on a Sunday morning, which is apparently the only day of the week that people sleep in anymore.

It also occurred to me that while a perk to biking in warm weather is that you create your own breeze and lower the “real feel temperature” by about 10 degrees, biking in cold weather must be dreadful for the same reason. Therefore, I am sure I will not be able to continue biking on a regular basis during the wintertime, while running in the wintertime is doable with the proper gear. Bike addicts, correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine biking when it’s super frigid and windy outside, and then having the bike-wind-chill factor to contend with.

And then there’s the whole race culture that is a part of running that I miss terribly. That sense of being part of something bigger and having goals to strive for kept me going. I miss it like I would miss a friend who moved away. In fact, I think I miss it more. Friends have moved, and I’ve moved away from friends, and frankly, I’ve never missed one like I miss running.

I thought I’d get over it. In fact, my worst fear when I stopped running was that I’d lose my desire to be in shape and this whole passion for exercise and fitness would just be a short stage of life that I’d look back on and laugh about. But that isn’t the case at all. I miss it dreadfully.

I’m still lifting weights, so there’s that at least. I feel strong. But it’s not the same strong as when I was running regularly and training for a race. And then there’s this 40-year-old metabolism that isn’t very forgiving. I need regular cardio becuase otherwise everything I eat seems to go right to my middle, and it ain’t pretty. #thankgodforspanx

Oh crap, there I am whining again. This post was not supposed to be about The Whining.

Seriously, this is supposed to be my answer to everyone who asks (and at least one person a day asks) how the biking is going and if they should get one.

So if you’re considering a bike because you can’t run, and you want advice, my advice is this. GET A BIKE. Seriously, I tell you everything I’ve said in the interest of full disclosure and in order to manage your expectations, but please don’t let it dissuade you if getting a bike is something you’ve been wanting to do. Because it is fun, and it is exercise, and it challenges your body in a totally new way, and it’s a great activity to share with friends and family. And at the end of the day, it beats being a couch potato, and that’s the goal, right??

But don’t expect it to replace running in your heart (or on MyFitnessPal.) At least not right away.

I am not sorry I got the bike. Not at all. I do want to explore some trails and go on longer rides. I am looking forward to riding with friends who are in the same boat as I am and looking for a form of exercise that our tired old bodies can tolerate. It’s just that life is so busy and it’s hard to fit it in. It’s not as simple as running. But nothing is.

You definitely have to ride longer than you’d have to run to burn the same calories, and it doesn’t give you the physical benefits of a weight-bearing activity like running. But on the other hand, it doesn’t abuse your body in the way that running can. It’s not as convenient (for me, because of where I live) and it’s definitely a financial investment at first, but I’m thankful for biking because it gives me a physical activity to do outside (which is where I love to be) and it’s a great family activity.

I’m hoping that in time I can work out some of these kinks and feel like I’m getting more out of cycling and that it’s more convenient than it seems right now. But if not, at least it gives me something active to do with the family. That alone is worth it.

Oh and as for what kind of bike I got, it’s a Trek 7200 Hybrid. I have several friends who bike, and they all recommended a hybrid so I can take it on the trail or the road. Trek is a reputable brand, and this is one of their “lower end” models. Still an investment, but not outrageous for a bike that will probably last 20 years.