In this episode, I answer an incredibly common question I see from hikers:
"Is running good training for hiking".
Inside I explore what running can be good for in your hiking training, what is it NOT good for and who should/shouldn't consider it in their preparations.
Is RUnning Good Training For Hiking?
So today, I'm answering the question does running prepare you for hiking? Now, this is a question I get quite a bit, and it is something that I've talked a little bit about on the podcast. But I think from what I've said on the podcast so far in different episodes, there's some people, it has been a little bit confusing and I started giving people the wrong idea around running.
And it's assumed that is something that I tell all hikers not to do, but that's not true. Today I want to go into the idea around what hike running can be good for, what it's not good for, and who I do and don't recommend it to. Just so you can have a really clear understanding around what my beliefs are around running for hiking preparation and whether or not it may be suited for you.
So, long story short in answering that simple question, does running prepare you for hiking is yes. Running can be a good way to prepare you for hiking. It can be a good addition into your training program. It does have a lot of benefits, but there are a few caveats for this, which do need to understand if you are going down this route.
So what running is good for when it comes to hiking preparation is it can be great for developing your aerobic fitness. Now, as I've said, many times on this podcast, your aerobic fitness or your aerobic capacity is the single most important element of fitness, I should say, for hiking. And this is developed through long-duration, low-intensity exercise.
So typically, I talk about things like walking, hiking, cycling, and then running does fall into this. It can be a really good way of developing this aerobic fitness. And so, if you can go out and run for 15, 20, 30, 40 minutes or multiple hours or whatever it may be, this can be a really good way of developing aerobic fitness.
Now, as always, with this type of thing, you do need to look at long-term progression. So you can't just go out and run five miles every single day. But so each week by week, you might add a few minutes, you might add a little bit extra distance or whatever it may be, and slowly go up and up and up. And this is what running can be good for when it comes to hiking preparation. And it can be really beneficial for this.
However, saying this, there's a couple of things you need to be aware of. Number one, running is not going to specifically prepare you for hiking or specifically prepare you for the trail. Now, as we know, hiking is unpredictable, it's undulating, it's uneven. There's so many things that the body has to compensate for when you're hiking. If you're just running around your local neighborhood or whatever it may be, it's probably not going to get you ready for those types of things, the big steps, it's not going to get you ready for the rough terrain, the rocks, or whatever it may be.
So yes, it will be good for your aerobic fitness, but it won't prepare you for that. I often hear from hikers or runners and people who have prepared, and they've said, "Look, I've ran and ran and ran and ran. I'm a triathlete, I'm whatever. But then I went out and hiked and it was very different." And it's something you need to be aware of.
Now, obviously, the middle ground in regards to this, if you are a trail runner and you're doing things on the trail, you are running on that uneven terrain, yeah, absolutely, that'll get you much closer to hiking. But if we're talking about neighborhood running or road running or whatever it may be, it's not going to prepare you for the trail in those ways. And you do need to incorporate hiking or other things to help it.
The other thing you need to be very clear about when it comes to your running is it's not going to help reduce aches or pains or deal with injuries. That's not what running's for and running will never do that. It will help your fitness. It will not help your aches or pains and you need to be looking at other areas to deal with that. And running is not good for that.
So ultimately, when it comes to when it's yes, running can be a great addition to things and it can be a great portion of your training program. But in no way, should it be the whole program, in no way, should it be the majority of the program. Any time a hiker is running, I would highly recommend you still do hiking, you still do strength training, you still do some of that hiking specific condition if you can and the feature running around that. That is going to be the best way you can go about things instead of just solely focusing on running.
Now for my hikers, who enjoy their running and when we program in their running into their training, there's a range of different ways we go about this and a wide range of different ways we use this. Now, the typical place most people start is doing just easy, slow runs. As I said, aerobic fitness, aerobic capacity response to long-duration, low-intensity cardio.
So we might just do a 20-minute run. Then the next week, a 25-minute run, the next week a 30-minute run, or whatever might be depending on people's fitness and just work with that. And then we may start incorporating some quicker intensity little bits in there. So we might do a 30-minute run, but do five little intervals of 10 seconds of going pretty quick and get you a bit of [inaudible 00:05:52] then go back down too easy, up and then cruise along. Then do another quick period, whatever it may be.
That's the simplest way we go about our running. The second area that we'd often incorporate running is doing quicker, longer intervals. Now, I often talk about aerobic power intervals on this podcast. So doing really quick for like three minutes or two and a half minutes, then resting for 90 seconds and we can do this well enough running, if you're a runner.
So we can go quick for three minutes, really get yourself [inaudible 00:06:19] and then walk for 90 seconds and do that a number of times. Or we can do hill intervals or stair intervals, but while you're running, it can be a good addition. There are a few different ways we do incorporate into our programs if someone particularly does enjoy running. But the main thing there is just making sure it is structured out. And it's not just doing random runs here and there because as we say, random exercise, typically, isn't amazing.
Now, one thing I do not recommend here, when it comes to running, yes, it can be a good addition to a hiker's preparation program, and it can be a good way to develop particular aerobic fitness, but is not essential. It's something I do not recommend to people who are not already runners. Now, that you should hear is a lot of people when they first think about, "I want to get fit." The first thing they think about is running and it doesn't matter if they haven't ran in 10, 20 years, they'll go out and do a run, and then it might feel good or it might feel bad.
If it feels bad, they don't do it again. It feels good, they do it again and again and again and again, they get into the habit. They get really good. And then all of a sudden, they start getting aches and pains, but they ignore it and they keep on pushing through and they run and run and run and run. And all of a sudden, they've got this long-term thing that just takes forever to get away from.
This is a story I hear again and again. As a hiker, it's not something we really want to go about. If you're not already a runner, just know there's so many other ways you can develop your aerobic fitness without running and you don't need to be doing it. And typically, I don't recommend it for people who are not running. If you're running already, yes, absolutely fine, incorporate those sessions, do what you need. But if you're not, there really is no need to start.
Now, there's not to say again that you can never be a runner if you haven't been running for many, many years, but if you aren't going about this, then please, get a program, get a structure in place so you're not doing random runs all the time, you're not just doing a million different things. You're not going to put yourself at that risk of that injury, which so many people go through, but you've got a structure in place. You're doing your other training to support it. You're taking time to recover and all of that. So talk to a professional there, if you really do need to run or feel like you want to run.
So, just to recap. Yes, running can be a good way to train for hiking, if you're already a runner. If you're not already a runner, I generally don't recommend it. If you are including running, please just be aware it's only a portion of your preparation program, it's not going to be the whole thing and it shouldn't be the majority of it. You still need to get out hiking. You still need to do strength training. You still should be doing other bits and pieces as well, but it can be a good addition.
So hopefully, this gives you a bit of an insight into where I'm coming from in regards to running for hikers. You can probably hear me getting a little bit fired up about this because it is something that I can run into all the time. And probably half the injury stories I hear from hikers are people who stepped into running or done a bit too much too soon or whatever it may be. And it's something that I really wish would happen less.
So hopefully this gives you an insight to where I'm coming from with all of this. If you were a hiker who loved their running and you were wanting a little bit of help structuring things out or planning things out, you want some ideas around your workouts, whatever it may be, I'll absolutely love if you can come and find me in the Training For Hiking and Trekking Facebook group. if you want some extra ideas, I'm more than happy to give you some advice around there. I'm more than happy to share some workouts, I'm more than happy to share some supporting exercises or whatever it may be.
So if you were a runner who was also a hiker and you want some help there, or you just were interested in learning a little bit more about training for hiking in general, come and find me in that group. I'll leave a link in the show notes below. You can check it out there. So thank you so much for listening today, guys. I do hope you've enjoyed it and we'll talk to you soon. Bye.
Want to learn more about training for your hiking adventures?
Join the Training For Hiking And Trekking Facebook Group
Rowan is a personal trainer who specialises in training for hiking, trekkers and mountaineers for their bucket list adventures.
Summit Strength is a personal training for hiking service created specifically to help hikers have the best chance of a safe, enjoyable and successful adventure.