How to account hiking in running plan

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  • #26946

    This summer I am doing a self-guided mountain running training plan, based on Training for the Uphill Athlete. Recently, I have done some all day hikes with lots of vertical which usually include 2nd and 3rd class climbing, and I am wondering what is the best way to log them in my training plan?

    Currently, I am logging them separately from running miles and vert, but because of that, I am coming up short on my weekly mileage on weeks that feel big. Any insight would be much appreciated!

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    Anonymous on #26984

    Hi dkhitchen,

    For mountain/trail running, you can move back and forth between using mileage and duration as the measure of volume. Because your pace on a technical, vert-heavy trail may be much lower than on a flat course, trying to achieve high mileage in such terrain will probably require more energy (and time) than you can expend in a week. On the other hand, races are still quantified by distance so being able to do the miles remains important.

    Ultimately, you have to manage your energy and time during the week. If you want to do the long hikes you’ll have to accept that doing so will limit your ability to get your goal mileage for the week, but know that there will be some contribution to your overall fitness and strength.

    As for how to log these efforts, the main priority is consistency so you can track over time what you’ve done and what worked best. If you anticipate mixing in these types of efforts on a regular basis and using them as part of your mountain running training, log them as running. Your mileage may be lower than what you initially planned, but you can observe how the total volume (by duration) of time on your feet contributes to your goal.

    If you’re concerned about your ability to do a certain amount of miles over time, maybe consider alternating weeks or blocks of weeks, wherein some periods you focus more on building overall mileage through straight-forward running sessions, and other periods you allow a reduction in mileage in favor of bigger overall volume through hiking and scrambling/vertical gain.

    Good luck,

    Aaron on #27090

    I have been following a down scaled Big Vert plan this spring. The vast majority of my steep vertical is hiking (my AeT does not allow uphill running unless I am doing Z3 ME). I log all this as vert and km and my weekly mileage is lower when I focus on vertical, or I end up doing ~5-7 hour weekend efforts that are a combination of hiking and running to get both in. I do bounce between hrTSS and rTSS in Training Peaks adjusting things based on UA TSS fudge tips on this site and my personal experience with recovery.

    I also track hiking when out with my 11yr old as it works well for true Z1 or recovery. I am generally carrying weight on these hikes as well. Sometimes on hikes with my kids I turn it into a ME workout by doing the gym based ME workout in stages as they take breaks, or a strength workout by adding in ~8-10′ max effort hill sprints. I know both of these are compromises on a pure workout, but better than no training and fun to be out with the family.

    Diana on #27122

    Thank you Sam!

    I am planning to continue with these long hiking/climbing days, and so counting the miles and vert works fine, because I can see that my mileage is lower and vert is higher those weeks.

    One more clarification question, I tried logging the hike/climb by cutting the mileage and vertical in half because it is not running. This gave me the mileage I was shooting for that week. What do you think of this method? I also logged a bike ride by dividing the mileage and vert by 4, to account for the assistance of the bike. These divisions feel appropriate to me for how strenuous hiking, biking, and running feel to me.

    Anonymous on #27146

    Hi Diana,

    I wouldn’t necessarily diminish the mileage or vert you’re doing on the hikes; it’s “honest” time on the feet even at a slower pace than running. Again, it all depends on what your objectives are; if you have an aim to complete a 50-miler or even 100-miler, there will likely be a fair bit of hiking involved so you’re getting some specificity with these days and you’ll want that reflected in your log.

    As for the cycling, i would suggest that instead of adjusting the mileage and vert in that regard, just log the cycling as such in your log so the miles don’t get muddled with your running miles. Are you using Training Peaks for your log? If so, it will separate these two modalities so there’s no confusion. Then as a more effective measure of your total workload, you can utilize the TSS system for scoring these sessions, even employing some “fudge factors” such as what Aaron mentioned above. I think in general it’s always best to have an accurate picture of what you’ve done and where it got you, so there’s no confusion when you look ahead to replicate or modify that past training toward future objectives.

    Hope that helps!


    Diana on #27203

    Thanks Sam for the clarification. I will log it with the details of what I actually did.

    I’ll also check out the TSS system that you and Aaron mentioned. (Thanks Aaron!) Currently I am just logging mileage and vert, as this I don’t have a heart rate monitor and am trying to keep it simple. Thanks again guys, and happy training!

    Aaron on #27204

    I mined a couple of articles and posts from UA and also Joe friesing (Sp?) training peaks article on estimating TSS and set up a spreadsheet to allow estimation for trips where I don’t have a heart rate monitor (e.g. Batteries died or winter use when I don’t want blue tooth interference with an Avalanche transceiver) to allow estimation. Training peaks does allow differentiating walking, biking, running etc. I wish they had a few more categories to differentiate xc skiing and ski touring though.

    Diana on #27205

    Good tips Aaron. I’d be curious for anything measure for ski touring and Nordic skiing, as I’d like to keep up my training log when the season shifts here shortly!

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