Will running help my hiking? (Read 378 times)

    Ok, last summer before I started running, I was a hiker.  I hiked 2 sections of the Pacific Crest Trail totaling 250miles or so and finished in around 3 weeks. The average days were about 17 mile hikes but some were 20+ and the longest 26.  A little after the hike I started running and  basically seemed no stronger than a person sitting on the couch. I basically had to start from square one.

    So here is the NEW scenario, I have ran one marathon and will have finished another in 2 weeks. I KNOW I am in waaaay better shape than I was last year before the hiking.  I know the 2 sports are different but I am wondering if I will get a boost from the running training.  I know it seems like an obvious yes, but the trails I am hiking on are not easy.  This next hike will be from the Mexico border into Southern California, around Palm Springs totaling 240miles.  Maybe 9k elevations at the peaks, lots of desert and HEAT!!!  I will be carrying around 45 pounds on my back.  Any comments will be appreciated especially from you mountain area people who do a lot of trail running and hiking.

      5k  = 19.48 10/1/13

    10k  = 45.28 4/16/13

    Half Marathon = 1:38.53  Summer Sizzle 7/13/14

    Operation Jack Marathon 12/26/12  4:39.11

    Solo O Marathon 06/02/13  3:52:10

    Operation Jack Marathon 12/26/13 3:40.34

      The running will help the hiking, simply because you'll be able to do the big miles necessary for the PCT much more easily.  You will probably be able to walk more quickly, and more hours, with less pain.  The section you're hiking has some high country, but really isn't difficult.  The trail is extremely well graded.  I know people who run it.   When will you be doing it?  Best is  spring or autumn.  (More water in the spring, but you may have snow at the higher elevations.)  If you plan to hike in the summer, I would jump north of Walker Pass.


      I've done the PCT, first as a thruhike and the southern part again (border to Walker Pass) as a section hike.  45 lbs is much too heavy a pack for that trail, especially the desert. Water is heavy, but resupply in the south isn't that hard.  If you are hiking 20+ a day, as most do, you'll have less than 5 days between resupply stops.  Work on lowering your pack weight, and you'll be good to go.

      Queen of 3rd Place

        My seat-of-the-pants feeling is it does help, but only when I pack light. My summer pack is 22 lbs and I do great. For winter trips my pack is more like 35 lbs and those trips don't seem any easier than they used to me. I agree with Ginny that your pack weight is an issue. If I can get my old-timey external frame pack WITH a bear canister down to 22 lbs for 5 nights, you can do better! Smile

        Ex runner

          I vote yes. If you find it doesn't help you can just run it as a backup.


            I'll be the dissenting vote. I don't think that it will help you as much as you think. It's all specificity of training, I suppose.

              How about a resounding "maybe".


              The primary reason I started running a couple years ago was because I was getting so out of shape that I was having a hard time putting out the effort needed on a consistent basis for my primary hobby which is hunting.  Climbing up and down mountains off trail with a pack on my back and a gun in my hands left me gasping for air at times and barely able to crawl out of bed in the morning 2 hours before daylight to head back out again the next day.  I found myself almost wasting a great elk tag that I drew simply because I wasn't in good enough shape to hunt it.


              I put a poll on a hunting forum asking what it took to be in good enough shape for elk hunting and got a lot of replies and over 200 votes for options which ranged from just being active all the way to running marathons and ultras.  The option that got the most votes and the option that I chose was to be able to run 6 miles in an hour.  It took me most of that summer to get there, but I got where I was actually able to run 8 miles at a 10:00 pace before that hunting season and it made a huge difference.  This was going from someone who was truly out of shape though so it probably had more of an impact on me.


              Last year my goal was a sub 2 hour half marathon and again, my elk hunting season went from where I used to be sore and barely able to keep up, to where I was the one going on all the extra hikes to check out spots and hauling more than my share of the load on packing out the meat.


              I do try to get some actual hiking in during the summer as well because as zonykel says, there is no substitute for specificity of training.


              So in short, if you are completely out of shape, running some will help quite a bit.  If you are already in pretty good shape, you might not realize as much of a benefit from the increased running.  I doubt me being able to run a marathon is going to mean anything more out in the mountains than last year when I was able to run a half marathon.


              My 2 cents.  Nathan

              Age: 49 Weight: 202 Height: 6'3" (Goal weight 195)

              Current PR's:  Mara 3:14:36* (2017); HM 1:36:13 (2017); 10K 43:59 (2014); 5K 21:12 (2016)

              Feeling the growl again

                the first time I went elk hunting, it was a week after a 2:38 marathon. After only one day I was able to keep up with as local mountain goat who had spent the last month in the mountains and most of the locals thought he was insane for going places nobody went without horses.


                The next year I had recently restarted running after six months off.  Hunting the same place, I was sucking wind big time.  Yes, off makes a difference.

                "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


                I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills



                  I vote a resounding YES. The only hike i do in a typical year is the climb to the top of Multnomah Falls from the I-84 parking area. 7 years ago as a non-runner and 40 lbs heavier, I had to walk up that trail huffing and puffing like everyone else and stop to catch my breath from time to time. Now as a runner I can easily run up the entire ways non-stop and almost without breaking a sweat. If I walk up the trail, I don't think my pulse even speeds up.


                  I also hiked up to Angel's Landing in Zion National Park a couple of years ago, and ran up parts of that trail and would have loved to run the entire ways up had I not been hiking with a non-runner. No way I could have done that before I was a runner. I also hiked half-ways down the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon a few years ago, and running short on time (due to business commitments) ran all the way back up to the top of the trail, again without much effort, only because I was a runner. Running is a huge help to hiking. Maybe particularly so since I love running up hills.

                  Not dead. Yet.

                    I think the overall fitness will help immensely.  Lung capacity, endurance, even most of the muscles you are building with running apply directly to hiking.  Obviously it won't make carrying the pack any easier on your shoulders and back, and road running is probably not going to keep your legs driving on long, steep switchbacks, but just being able to keep your breathing under control will be a huge advantage over someone not as fit.


                    I am green with envy.  Have fun!

                    How can we know our limits if we don't test them?

                      Another emphatic YES.  I have backpacked the PCT from Mt Whitney to Yosemite and I absolutely kicked ass compared to my buddy who did a lot of training by schlepping rocks in his pack up local mountains.  I did none of that but just ran a lot.  I had zero problems on that trek (4 weeks of backpacking).

                      I'm also part of a group that hikes Mt Whitney from the Portal to the top and back as a day hike every summer for the past 9 years.  If I want to I can absolutely destroy every person in our group (that includes young guys) to the top and back down again.  I 100% attribute it to the fitness I get from running.  I certainly don't hike nearly as much as these other guys.

                        This is sounding very encouraging so far. I am really hoping my body feels stronger out there.  For those concerned with my pack weight, that is around 44 pounds including max 5 liters of water ( 10lbs) and also 7 days of food. My base pack weight is very low, I just like to eat and drink a lot. I am not in the "ultralight" realm but I did make it in the "light" department.  I will probably be leaving around 2 weeks after my marathon June 15? Something like that.  It is a little hot now but I have finals on May 21st and kinda stuck here.   I hiked sections D and C southbound so far and this time it will be sections A and B northbound.  My first section I actually used one of the old school external frames hehe. It did pretty good. I have a nice Golite 50 liter now and loving life. Anyways thanks for the responses and share some more stories and pictures.  If you want to see the videos/slideshows I made of my PCT sections click them below on youtube. enjoy Smile


                        http://youtu.be/DMCpYon5d5E ( PCT section C 132.5 miles   I did this one first )


                        http://youtu.be/0EcEAJWbDxE   ( PCT section D  115 miles )

                          5k  = 19.48 10/1/13

                        10k  = 45.28 4/16/13

                        Half Marathon = 1:38.53  Summer Sizzle 7/13/14

                        Operation Jack Marathon 12/26/12  4:39.11

                        Solo O Marathon 06/02/13  3:52:10

                        Operation Jack Marathon 12/26/13 3:40.34

                          Another resounding yes.  If you're in better aerobic shape, it will make a huge difference.  Since I've started running, I've had to watch myself on hikes with non-runners, because I'll just be striding along like it's a walk in the woods, not noticing that what feels easy to me is causing them to huff and puff.  And these are regular hikers and reasonably active people - but not runners.


                            Haha, my answer is a resounding NO but maybe that's just because I expected hiking to be easy for me since I run marathons, and hiking is definitely NOT easy for me!


                            If you ask

                              I would say yes.  I hiked 20 miles with my brother and mum, having never hiked before.   I never felt tired, and enjoyed the day tremendously. I think the running helped my endurance.

                              • Charlie Horse Half Marathon - May 25
                              • PA Grand Canyon Marathon - July 27
                              • Labor Pain 12 Hour Endurance - August 31 (50k...or more!)


                                Yup. In fact, it's why I started running more often.


                                I'm a pretty regular hiker/climber here in Colorado (75-100 summits per year, 150-200K' elevation yearly) and after my wife was pregnant last year and I had to stay closer to home for a while, so I began running to keep in shape. After baby was born and I went back to hiking a lot, I was surprised at the difference. Cardio was about the same, but legs seemed much stronger. Less breaks, increased elevation per hour avg, less wear after the day was over.


                                One disclaimer, most of my running was trail running with decent amount of elevation, a closer mimic to hiking than sidewalk/treadmill running. May have made the difference.


                                Seems to me that anything you do to strengthen cardio and legs (not just running) cant be bad for another active hobby, such as hiking.