I Shall Run No More Forever

10.15.2005 | 7:24 am

A Note from Fatty: This post, rescued from my MSN Spaces archive, was originally published October 15, 2005.

Every year about this time, I start thinking: maybe I should start running again. After all, cross-training is good for you, right? Plus my buddy John and I have a tradition of signing up for the Death Valley Marathon each year (I did a writeup on this race back in 2003, posted below as a surprise bonus for people who feel they deserve to be punished), so I ought to start training for it, right?


I’m not going to run.

Ever again.

This is why.

Guilty Relief
Last January, my training for the Death Valley Marathon went especially badly. I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life (around 192 pounds), due to steroids and holiday overindulgence, not to mention some pretty half-hearted training. I was planning to do the marathon with John, but had no expectations of doing much running. I was a very solid back-of-the-pack bet.

So when John called me from the hospital — five days before the race — saying he was going to have to bail on the race, due to the fact that he had had a heart attack that day, I had three reactions:

  • Relief that he was OK.
  • Concern that since John had a heart attack, I was probably at risk, too – he and I are very similar in the way we train, eat, and live.
  • Joy that I now had an ironclad excuse for not doing the race. Not as ironclad as John’s, but close enough.

I have not run since. Man, that sport could kill you.

Irrefutable Logic
I actually understand why runners run. They run for a lot of the same reasons cyclists ride: It’s a good workout. You can do it right out your front door. You get to be outside and see a little bit of the world. When you do it right, you get that endorphin rush and feel great.

Sadly, these reasons are not sufficient. Here is what is wrong with running:

  • It pounds the crud out of you. As you bike and get in better shape, you hurt less and less. That’s because your muscles are getting stronger and you’re not slamming all your weight and force into your joints several times per second. This cannot be said of running. Runners spend all this time stretching and warming up and cooling down, but they all wind up hobbling around with screwed-up joints anyway. Basically, I’m willing to endure muscle soreness because I know that’s part of the process of building fitness. Joint soreness is just the path to more joint soreness.
  • Lack of variety. When I get tired of road biking, I mountain bike. Or I get out the fixie. Or try cyclocross. With running, you get to do what to mix it up? Run really fast instead of at your normal pace? Run on trails instead of road? Maybe skip or hop? Or run backwards? When I bike, I never use an MP3 player, because there’s so much going on, my mind stays plenty busy. When I run, on the other hand, I need an MP3 player desperately. Because otherwise the tedium is Just. Too. Much. Here’s a thought: If an essential part of your exercise gear is a gadget that helps you keep your mind off that exercise, maybe it’s time to switch sports.
  • Lack of cool gear. OK, I admit this is a throwaway point, but if you’re a gear geek like me, you know what I’m talking about. With biking, there’s new frames and components and clothes and helmets and measuring apparatus! With running, there’s shoes (oh yes, lots and lots of shoes) and shorts and … socks? Maybe special running underwear? Headbands?
  • It injures you without giving you a cool scar, nor a story to tell. Both runners and cyclists get injured while doing their thing. That’s just a given. For cyclists, every injury has an accompanying story that can be treasured, tweaked, and told for decades to come. I admit that there have been times when, even as I writhed in pain, a little part of me was working on the description of how bad I hurt. Runners, on the other hand, get to talk about how they were jogging along when — spung! — their kneecaps fell off, due to overuse. Hey, if you’re going to suffer, you may as well have a story to tell. In short: when biking, you accept that something surprising and dangerous may happen to you while you’re biking. With running, you accept that you are injuring yourself because you’re running.

Call to Action
Runners, please: Quit running. Buy a bike. You’ll go faster. You’ll hurt less often. When you do hurt, you’ll have a nice little anecdote to share.

I’m glad I could clear this up for you.


  1. Comment by aaron | 04.12.2008 | 10:51 pm

    Couldn’t agree more fatty. I don’t run and probably never will. My orthopaedic surgeons were relieved when I told them I never intend on running. Which was strange as they could have made a lot of money out of me.

  2. Comment by hobgoblin | 04.13.2008 | 3:50 am

    I had a cycling friend who used to say that the only time he ran was to the bar and from the police. Good advice.

  3. Comment by Rodney | 04.13.2008 | 4:01 am

    Darn it! I was just getting ready for a run when I read this. I even got my mp3 player out so I could survive it. Cyling is 10x better but I want to do triathlons this year. I love swimming and cycling but running is part of it. Sorry Fatty, but I just can’t quit running yet.

  4. Comment by Jenni | 04.13.2008 | 6:03 am

    Not only is an MP3 a necessity, it must be loud enough that I can’t:
    1) hear my own labored breathing
    2) hear my feet hitting the pavement
    3) give me any opportunity to focus on the fact that running does, in fact, suck.

    Plus with running there’s too much motion- my ponytail must be securely and tightly wound as not to hit me in the face, the back, whereever- my sportsbra must be well, tightly wound as well. Running too reminds you of everything on your body that jiggles that really ought not jiggle. Cycling, you’re entirely wrapped in spandex with no jiggle-inducing motion.
    P.S. As far as gadgets go though, Nike does have those new shoes with the sensor that works with your iPod to tell you how far you’ve run, what your pace is, etc. That’s a good one.

  5. Comment by anneb | 04.13.2008 | 6:44 am

    I love running, but after years of bland running attire, punctuated now and then by a colorful race shirt that usually hangs down to my knees, cycling apparel is a breath of fresh air.

  6. Comment by System6 | 04.13.2008 | 12:07 pm

    My pathetic jogging tales roll out something like this: Wife – why are you back from running so soon, and, uh, bleeding like a harlequin novel? me: was changing songs on my walkman and forgot to 1) not step off the sidewalk, or b) step down off the curb as I entered the crosswalk, sending myself head over heels into traffic. Obviously, that’s not exactly a life-of-the-party kind of story.

    I know, because whenever I’ve told it my wife has promptly left the room and denounced our marriage as flawed and recklessly prearranged by her angry parents.

    Now bike crash stories, yeah, those work! I can sound almost heroic with actual scars for show-and-tell, unlike my buddies who whine when they couldn’t finish their itty bitty marathon (“dude, when I do 26.2 miles on my trainer it’s called WARMING UP, hah!) because of pains from things you CAN’T SEE from parts that look PERFECTLY FINE, thank you very much. Here’s a crying towel, pal. Wash it before you return it, please.

    And how fast were you going my fine runner-friend when you had your terrible accident? What, eight miles per hour! Dear God you’re brave, aren’t you? Because when I got this six inch pink and purple stripe on my leg here I was doing about 25 in the rain and ended in a multi-bike pile up. Look, over here’s the tire mark from the bike that was behind me.

    What, you’ve got to go? You’re wife is calling you? I understand. She probably wants the family pants back.

  7. Pingback by Fort Orange Cycling » Links of the Day: 13 April 2008 | 04.13.2008 | 1:50 pm

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  8. Comment by Josh | 04.13.2008 | 2:35 pm

    If God had meant humans to run, he wouldn’t have invented the bicycle.

  9. Comment by hellkitty | 04.13.2008 | 3:26 pm


    I was a triathlete until this season when I came to the realization that I really HATE running. Much as I try to tart it up by going to races or wearing a shuffle, it’s just dead boring.

    This season I’ve thrown myself whole-heartedly into cycling and I’m having a lot more fun. I’d forgotten how much better exercise is when you’re doing something that you actually like.

    I do miss the pool though.

  10. Comment by bikesgonewild | 04.13.2008 | 3:56 pm

    …ya, what fatty said…

  11. Comment by axel | 04.13.2008 | 5:21 pm

    I did the triathlon thing last year and I found that running was actually not terrible. Yet I find myself unable to argue against fatty’s logic. The truth is, not being terrible is not quite enough. And the other truth is, that I haven’t run since finishing the last triathlon on my program.

  12. Comment by sk8ermom3 | 04.13.2008 | 5:30 pm

    Amen brother. When I find a bike, swim, bike event, I’ll be happy. A swim, bike, swim would be even better, but you’d never get any heroin addict looking runners to do them.

  13. Comment by Fonk | 04.13.2008 | 9:10 pm

    In my opinion, if you need an mp3 player, you don’t really belong in the sport, as you’re obviously not invested in the sport enough to focus on it and love it. This is just as true for cyclists as it is for runners, or anyone else. There are a LOT of cyclists who use mp3 players, too, and I just don’t get it. I run and bike, love both, and never even consider bringing along the music box for either. When I’m out on the trail, whether on foot or on my bike, simply being out there in nature exercising is enough to keep my mind engaged and happy. Plus, if I really want music, I can just play back songs in my head, but still be alert to what’s going on around me.

    A lot of running injuries have to do with poor technique. People think they can just go out and run long distances w/o any thought to technique, because “hey, it’s just walking really fast essentialy, right?” Well, no… Just like you need proper technique in the pool or proper fitting on the bike, running well takes some learning, too. I think this is why many runners get injuries that they shouldn’t. Just my two cents…

  14. Comment by turnonthejets | 04.14.2008 | 5:04 am

    Running is good for your bone density an issue many cyclists can face.

  15. Comment by ibisss | 04.14.2008 | 5:49 am

    I found that when I was 50 lbs lighter, running was no problem. I hate it now.

  16. Comment by fatty | 04.14.2008 | 7:35 am

    turnonthejets: i achieve the same effect by regularly putting myself inside a giant vice, which I purchased from a supervillain at a bargain price.

  17. Comment by Captain Obvious | 04.14.2008 | 8:01 am

    Please remove the flashy ads from your site. It is hard to read anything when pictures keep jumping around.

  18. Comment by KT | 04.14.2008 | 8:55 am

    System6, you are a comedy genius. ALMOST on par with fatty… but I still laughed out loud at your comment.

    Fatty: your words about running are spot-on. I only run when I am being chased– and even then, I’d probably stop after about 50 feet because my knees hurt and I’m tired. And yeah, there’s that whole jiggly-thing per Jenni– I swear, nothing jiggles when I walk or ride, what’s up with the massive metamorphoses to jiggly uncomfortable-ness when running? Suckage.

  19. Comment by DRF | 04.14.2008 | 10:34 am

    I like cycling too, but I am primarily a runner. One of my cycling buddies pointed this article out to me, and I feel obligated to share a runner’s perspective.

    To start off with, there is one running injury you forgot to point out: sciatica — from sitting on our fat wallets! I’m not sure many runners would agree that “lack of cool gear” is a disadvantage. Seriously — your “lack of variety” point involves 4 different bikes, what is that $6,000? $12K? I can take my $80 pair of running shoes and run sidewalks, roads and parks around my neighborhood … I can even run on the rec trails around the town (where no serious cyclist would be caught dead) … I can enter a 5k or marathon or 50k trail run… I can run on the treadmill or track inside if I want to avoid bad weather… or just head out into the snowstorm cause that’s viable running weather too. I can carry those shoes on the airplane with no special suitcase or extra fees. I can run effectively by myself, or easily carry on a conversation with a group of runners around me. How’s that for variety per dollar?

    Cycling is a great sport for those who have an appropriate location and can afford the gear. No doubt that runners get more joint injuries that cyclist, but running is far more accessible. Why do you think there is no Kenyan cycling tradition?

    Captain Obvious — those ads are staying. How do you think he pays for all that cool gear!

  20. Comment by DRF | 04.14.2008 | 11:05 am

    sciatica = no heroic scar. crap!

  21. Comment by Jot | 04.14.2008 | 11:10 am

    I’m not saying that the bard of cellulite is wrong, but I do feel that you’ve missed some points, Fatty. (Please excuse the term of familiarity, but Elden or even worse Mr. Nelsen makes it seem like I’m talking to my grandfather.)

    1) Lack of cool gear: This is a benefit that I refer to as “Hey, check it out…I actually have disposable income AFTER my first hobby.” When I bought a bike to start doing triathlon (yes, I recognize that my credibility has gone south faster than presidential approval ratings) I realized that I can go into a bike store and drop more money on stuff I didn’t know I needed than I spent in an entire year on shoes and my Garmin ForeRunner. But, what the heck, the kids don’t need college.

    2) No variety: Come on, this is obviously made up. The difference is, to get variety I don’t need a different pair of shoes. You want to ride on trails? You need a mountain bike. You want to ride on the road? You need a road bike. Different trails different bike. Running? Road, you wear running shoes. Trail, you wear the same running shoes. Stairs at the office? Running shoes? Let’s see you ride your bike around the office all day.

    3) Stories. Ok, so you’re right there, but it is not like you can’t have some great running stories. My second favorite one is the day I went out running when I had no home support, and got caught in a monsoon. I’d run out of water, and it was raining and did me no good. Then, my shoes got mud on them so they weighed 5 pounds a piece more. Oh, and this happened at mile 16. My first favorite is at the end of 12 miles when I stepped on a wire hoop laying on the sidewalk and it stopped my forward progress so suddenly that I landed on my junk. Have you ever stopped running so fast you’ve fallen straight down and bruised your…um…little buddy? Yes, it was right next to a major street. Made not clipping out and falling over at a light seem like something that the judges should award points for.

    4) You missed swimming. Even better than biking for the amount of impact on your body. Great exercise. It is so mind numbingly boring that people pay 3x the cost of an ipod, just to be able to get an ipod they can use. Variety? Let me tell you about my last swim: It was wet and flat. The one before that? Wet and flat? Sometimes it’s cold, wet and flat. Sometimes it’s warm wet and flat. Oh, and it’s trying to kill you. Don’t let the Eco-terrorists tell you water is “good”. It is out to kill you.

    -Jot “recognizing the irony of someone named Jot making fun of someone named Elden”

  22. Comment by Jot | 04.14.2008 | 11:14 am

    Talk about topical. I feel confident in saying that is something that runners and cyclists can both agree is just wrong.


  23. Comment by blinddrew | 04.14.2008 | 12:46 pm

    Well, i reckon i’ve got one marathon left in me, to try and get under 3:30 and then i’m through running. Biking on the other hand will remain an integral part of my existence. Especially once rugby has finally battered my body off the playing field!
    Oh and Jot, you’re damn right!

  24. Comment by wendy | 04.14.2008 | 2:29 pm


    Your joints hurt because you’re fat, not because you’re running! C’mon, boy, push away from the table and quit being such a sloth. Granted, the best cyclists are in better shape than you are, still, what do they look like? Heads on sticks. Strong calves, the rest, pathetic survivors of a long-standing hostage siege.

    Runners, on the other hand? Lean, strong and well balanced. And spare me the shallow “cool gear” crap, would you please? Cycling is a wallet buster! Save it for your next mortgage payment if you’re still fortunate enough to own your house! Now get off your all-too-well-padded duff and lace up.

  25. Comment by DRF | 04.15.2008 | 10:04 am

    Wendy — that’s harsh and not fair at all. Are you being serious? I know a ton of runners who weigh in around the 200 mark (ha!) who run marathons and ultras. Its not terribly uncommon.

    Have you looked at competitive marathon runners hitting their peak? Skin and bones. Running is generally not a good way to build muscle.

    Cycling is an awesome way to excercise. I recommend it to anyone who can afford to buy half decent gear and has a place to do it.

    I know many cyclists that have tried running and decided they don’t like it. I’m forming a theory about why that is … I think the problem is that cyclists
    1) Are aerobically fit
    2) Have strong legs
    3) Have an idea that travelling 10-25+ mph is “normal”
    So these fit strong cyclists go out for a little run at a “slow” speed (maybe 6:15 miles — under 10 mph!) … they don’t hit any aerobic or significant strength limitations that a true beginner would hit, but they do have very crappy running form. After pounding themselves for 20-30 minutes they hurt, decide it sucks, and get back on the bike. Any takers on that theory?

  26. Comment by DRF | 04.15.2008 | 10:17 am

    oh yeah — and Jot — that is wrong. very wrong.

  27. Comment by Blue | 04.15.2008 | 11:12 am

    DRF – My reactions to those posts were very similar to yours. Almost word for word, except I also threw in ‘ridiculous’.

    In line with your theory, I was in the military for a long time. I would run and run. I liked it, still do. I know how to run, but the fact remains that I enjoy cycling much much more, period.

  28. Comment by B | 04.16.2008 | 2:18 am

    Hey fatty – I’m a huge fan of both running and cycling but need to ask since when were padded cycling shorts classified as cool gear? Unflattering and a litle like wearing a nappy…

    Totally agree with Jot’s swimming comments… possibly the most boring sport in the world. Low impact but low entertainment too.

  29. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » If I Were A Runner, This Is Where I’d Run | 05.6.2009 | 1:01 pm

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  30. Comment by Ckcycling | 01.11.2010 | 9:25 pm

    Fatty, u hit this topic spot on

  31. Comment by Ckcycling | 01.11.2010 | 9:25 pm

    Fatty, u hit this topic spot on

  32. Comment by Ckcycling | 01.11.2010 | 9:25 pm

    Fatty, u hit this topic spot on

  33. Comment by Laura | 04.4.2010 | 7:56 am

    Hey Fatty,
    I cycle, I run…I am fit at both :) :)
    I have a great bike and cool jogging shoes, look cute with both!!!!

  34. Comment by BrianP | 05.30.2010 | 12:46 pm

    I don’t run. If you ever do see me run, don’t even look behind me. Just run. Something very bad is coming.

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