taking a long (30 mins or more) break during the hiking workout

  • Creator
  • #58616
    Jane Mackay

    Hi Carolyn and Maya,

    I have become acutely aware that I expend a lot of energy unnecessarily on simply being in motion and thinking, both in everyday life and when I’m in the mountains, and it’s costing me in terms of energy for life and work, not to mention training.

    In one of Mark Twight’s stories, he describes how one of his expedition partners had the ability to switch off completely when they were in camp with nothing specific to do, to the point of utter inertness, both body and mind utterly released, and Mark points out that this ability to relax is crucial for conserving energy. Peter Boardman has written something similar, and in so many of his incandescent tales of mountain adventures, WH Murray describes an hour spent lounging in the sunshine by a loch or on a peak losing himself in the movement of the clouds, and then, refreshed, completing the climb (or descent).

    That’s a skill I have not yet gained, being able to relax in the middle of a mountain outing (or in everyday life), and it’s a task I’ve set myself for this training round.

    This was a recovery week for me (I’m doing a 3-week cycle) and so yesterday I experimented with hiking calmly (HR in recovery zone) up to a high point and then stretching myself on a meadow and just lying there. The first 15 minutes I was busy looking around, consciously admiring the beauty of the autumnal foliage and the surrounding mountain ranges, while in the background the mind was wondering when I could say I’d lain there long enough and get up and go again, but then something happened: I relaxed. It was a perceptible shift. After that I idly watched the upper layer of clouds moving, massing and gathering in tones from white to slate above the static lower layer of cloud, and about ten minutes later I realised I was ready to go. As I set off again, I found I felt refreshed, despite accumulated fatigue of sleeping poorly for weeks because of hot flashes.

    I would like to insert this kind of pause into each Saturday hike, but my concern is that I will lose some of the training effect if I take a break to fully relax during the planned workout time.

    Would it be better to, say, do a 2-hour continuous hike, coming to a point not too far from the car/home, take the break, and then finish with an easy 20-45 minute return journey, most likely downhill?

    ps. Sorry if this shows up twice. I posted it, but I don’t see it in the forum.

  • Keymaster
    Jane Mackay on #58617

    With the example of the 2-hour continuous hike, that would be the whole planned workout (e.g. Saturday of week 3 in the intermediate plan), so the return journey would be extra.

    Anonymous on #58700

    Hi Jane,
    Let’s try this again.
    First I’m thrilled that you are realizing how much the movement in your life is cumulative and creating an energy deficit. Mark T and I are old friends and we agree on many things, and the need to slow down, disconnect, just down right stop is one of them.
    From a training standpoint the most ideal situation would be for you to finish your training session time and then take a “chill”, add to the time out all in zone one or lower. A wander of sorts for the mind and body. However, that being said we all are recreational athletes, so truly if you are out and inspired by a beautiful spot or pulled to just be still on a summit by all means do that! Your health and wellness comes first and foremost. And a final thought, I think it would be as if not more beneficial to add this to your daily practice not just in the mountain setting (though it a great place to start). Take five things off your to do list that really don’t need to be do, create a hard stop time each day when work stops, go out and sit in the quiet alone in the evening, have some tea, take time of the grid regularly. This practice is easier said than done, I have been attempting to walk the tight rope of life balance for decades, each time I’ve just about got it dialed I need to adjust it again. Mostly due to getting older and having less energy. The richness that comes from giving yourself that time and space is immeasurable. Good luck and I hope this helps ( :

    Jane Mackay on #58806

    Thanks, Carolyn. Aging is certainly playing a part. I am also moving towards incorporating a break for BOTH body and mind each day, having begun a fairly serious meditation practice following the Theravada tradition. Having browsed through the link on breathing techniques you posted for one of the other participants, I’m now going add in a pranayama practice, which I used to do years ago, and I’m curious also to try the Wim Hof method and see what happens with that.
    Your ‘ideal’ scenario, with the ‘extra’ being all in recovery zone, was actually what I was hoping you would say would be OK, so that’s great. And yes, if I get the urge to meditate on a mmountaintop 😉 or flop down on a gorgeous high alpine meadow, I’ll do so!
    Many thanks, again. I agree … finding balance is a constant work in progress, not least because the body is in constant process of change.

    Coach on #58809


    I echo what Carolyn says! I always think if you can find peace with your training, take that! Life is incredibly hectic, and if you can take a moment for just yourself, do that!!
    Happy Hiking, meditating, and enjoying!

    Jane Mackay on #59080

    Thank you, Maya! I do find I sometimes get tunnel vision on the training and it’s good to have a reminder to step back and look at it in the context of my whole life.

    Emese Foss on #60891

    Hi, 2 questions:

    1) I’m in the intermediate group and I see that there’s a 2.5 hour with weight hike for this weekend. For this, I’m thinking of hiking up a local mountain with elevation gain of about 3,500 ft. If I do the full 2.5 hours uphill, I’ll still have about a 1.5 hour walk back to the car retracing my steps with weight in my pack. Is this too much at this stage of training? I’m wondering if I should do 1.5 hours up, turn around at that point regardless of how high I am, and get back to the car at the 2.5 hour mark. Thoughts?

    2) As I will continue training through the winter and slowly add time to my long hikes, I will eventually need to incorporate a meal stop into my workout. This will probably be about 1/2 hour long. How does this stop affect endurance training? Would it be better to take 10 minute breaks every hour instead? I personally find that the longer lunch break is very refreshing and allows me to continue for many more hours. BTW, I’ll be building up pack weight to eventually carry about 30% of body weight. Thanks, Emese

    Anonymous on #60922

    Hi Emese,
    1) the times we put in the plans have been designed to build progressively, and if hiking are typically total time. Up and down, as the downhill with load has a significant training effect. If you have not hiked for a total of at least 3.5 hours up and down thus far I would not suggest doing the full 4hour the hike you were thinking of doing. If however you have been doing all your work on a treadmill and have done the uphill with load for 2-2:15hr and not incorporated the downhill you could possibly do the 2.5 hour up, drop as much weight as you can (i.e. carry water or rocks for load) and walk down with no weight. The hike down will still be hard on your legs and your quads may be quite sore, so not ideal however I know longer outdoor hikes can be fun!
    2) if you like longer lunch breaks on a big day out by all means enjoy a little sit down, We do need to fuel. If you take a 30 min break in the middle of a 4 – 6 hour day you will not be diminishing the training effect of the aerobic work. However, fueling consistently during a workout is often beneficial so don’t let yourself get hungry or thirsty during these long efforts waiting for lunch.
    I hope this helps out!

    Emese Foss on #60951

    Perfect! Thanks!

Viewing 8 replies - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.