Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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texasbb
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Re: Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

Post by texasbb » November 6th, 2018, 11:51 am

For me there's no question that the short intense workouts help a lot toward long hikes, but only a lot, not the whole way. My first day out, as others have mentioned above, I sometimes feel awful, but by the 2nd or 3rd day my body seems to make a pretty quick adjustment to going all day. Taking a rest once in a while helps, but I have to admit I don't do that very much due to impatience or pride or whatever. (For the record, I'm 58.)

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

Post by Don Nelsen » November 6th, 2018, 6:13 pm

We are all different and the older we get those differences can be magnified by the life we've led so I think it's hard to make too many generalizations except: As we age, it doesn't get better! The good news is that we can do a lot to both stay in top shape and, if not there already, get into top shape - or at least better shape no matter our age.

I'm 71 so am feeling at least some of the effects of age but being retired for nearly five years and having been a lifelong biker, runner, hiker, skier etc. have managed to stay in fairly decent shape in spite of my bad habits. It doesn't get any easier as the years pile on but I've made some observations: Stay hydrated, take a rest day-or-two-or-even-three if you feel a bit beat after a hard day out and keep your weight optimum. (That last varies for everyone but that is a another subject.)

The hikes I've used as markers for what kind of condition I'm in are Dog Mt. and Mt. Defiance. There are others, like the BPA road/Newton road in Forest Park and a few others but Dog and Defiance I've hiked for 40 years and have a good record of times over most of that time period. For example, in Sept. of '07, I hiked Defiance in 2:26 up and 2:07 down at a fairly hard but not "race" pace. Last Sunday, Nov. 4th, I hiked it in 2:57 up and 2:18 back starting at the rest area. The conditions were way worse Sunday over what I had 11 years ago but still, I don't think that played into my times by very much - at most, maybe 10 minutes or less. ( Well, to be sure, I was running out of daylight so maybe pushed that return hike a bit more!) The big difference is that I'm 11 years older. I don't like it but that is the inescapable fact.


Defiance, last Sunday:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7jWuCjuNt8
"Everything works in the planning stage".

Webfoot
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Re: Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

Post by Webfoot » November 6th, 2018, 8:25 pm

For a little perspective you're all doing really well in my estimation. I have yet to hit 40 and I'm beat after a 4 mile hike. How I wish I could hike like you guys! Enjoy what you've got. :)

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retired jerry
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Re: Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

Post by retired jerry » November 7th, 2018, 6:15 am

I'm envious of Don:)

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

Post by Don Nelsen » November 7th, 2018, 9:43 am

SWriverstone wrote:
November 5th, 2018, 9:58 pm
...At age 56, it's possible, I suppose, that I just need to slow down! But that's hard for me to do. I'm a pretty high-energy hiker, and I enjoy challenging hikes that don't leave a lot of time to lollygag along the trail and take lots of breaks. All of this pushes me into what younger (or more serious) hikers might called a "performance" hiking zone.

So I'm just wondering what others have experienced? (Particular anyone over 50.) Have you slowed down and shortened your hikes with age? Is there some combination of workouts or exercise strategies that has enabled you to keep banging out tough, 12-mile hikes and feel pretty good afterward? (Or do you just live with the pain that follows such hikes?)

Scott
Hi Scott,

To further address your topics and relate some of my experiences: Slowing down is a good idea as we get older. I paid a price for continuing to run trails and road runs into my early 60s. I managed to aggravate very old injuries to my back and ended up with 5 bad discs that caused me considerable pain for years. I finally went in for surgery and 3 of the 5 were successfully operated on. I've been fine ever since and no longer run trails except very short distances and not often. No hard surface running at all. With no running, that means the really long hikes I once did are over, there's just not enough time in a day for most 30+ mile adventures. I'm fine for 20 something mile hikes though and that brings up this: Back in the day, one of the recommended ways to increase running fitness was to do fast then slow intervals. I did that and it worked well. I've adapted that method to hiking by alternating longer harder days with shorter easier ones. If I do a couple of longer, harder hikes back-to-back I'm sure to leave a day or better, two days between them to recover.

As far as living with pain: Now and then a Tylenol or two works wonders but the real secret is hydration. Most of our bodies are made of water and if the tank is running low the result can be soreness and cramps.

Anyway, as mentioned before, we are all different but I think what I've mentioned are basics that relate to all. There's so much more to this staying in shape thing so good luck and as Webfoot said: "enjoy what you've got".

I think I'll head out and hike Dog Mountain. :)
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Bosterson
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Re: Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

Post by Bosterson » November 7th, 2018, 11:22 am

SWriverstone wrote:
November 5th, 2018, 9:58 pm
I'm finding that while I can bang out 4 steep miles at high speeds and feel pretty good afterward, the same is NOT true of an 8- or 10-mile hike (much less a 15-mile hike). I feel like I'm lacking the endurance to bang out 12-15 mile days and feel good afterward. As it is, I can knock out the miles, but I'm in a significant amount of discomfort (sometimes downright pain) afterward—which sucks.
The way I see it, there are steep hikes, there are long hikes, and there are long steep hikes. Having the fitness for steep hikes doesn't necessarily mean you feel strong on long hikes, and once you add elevation gain to a long hike, even more fitness is required to not feel wiped out. Rather than skip straight from steep hikes to long steep hikes, I would recommend doing some "flat" longer (10-15 mi) hikes to get your legs used to the distance. I personally find that even on flatish long hikes, my legs get fatigued from walking repeatedly in a straight line (ie, on a trail), using the same muscles without variation.

If you're hiking multiple times per week, you may consider an intervals approach: say you hike 3x per week, twice during weekdays and once on the weekend. Do short, steeper hikes during the week to build strength, and then on the weekend do a long flat hike for endurance. As you improve your fitness, you can start adding elevation gain to the long hike, but ratchet that hike's distance back down each time the EG goes up. So say you get to where a 15 mi hike with 500-1000 ft total EG is comfortable, next try a 10 mi hike with 1500-2000 ft EG. After increasing the EG on the long hike, extend its distance again the next time.

It's generally easier to build strength (for short, steep hikes) than it is to build endurance, and especially strength-endurance, so if you are increasing the hike stats progressively, you're likely to plateau in hike steepness at the under 10 mi level. At that point, start increasing the length of the "short" steep hikes - eventually you'll get to where your weekday shorter strength interval hikes are as long as the "long steep" strength-endurance hikes you were initially doing, at which point your actual long steep hikes will be much longer. :)
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

Post by Don Nelsen » November 7th, 2018, 6:41 pm

retired jerry wrote:
November 7th, 2018, 6:15 am
I'm envious of Don:)
Jerry,

Thank you! I take that as a compliment!

I must say though, I'm a liitle envious of you for being able to get out for overnights as much as you do. I'm such a wuss when it comes to that and I never seem to be able to get out for overnights as much as I wish I could.

dn
Last edited by Don Nelsen on November 7th, 2018, 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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dmthomas49
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Re: Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

Post by dmthomas49 » November 7th, 2018, 8:24 pm

Did what I call a "Work out hike" today at Dog. Since my knees do not allow me to run any more, this makes for a good aerobic workout. I miss being able to run, even on trails.

Up Dog in 1:15.
Down Dog (not the yoga pose) in 1:03. Mileage is 3.8 each way.

Unfortunately, the clouds socked in the summit, until I was almost all the way down.

The Mt Defiance photo taken from a lower viewpoint. Maybe that should be my next workout!
IMG_8005.JPG

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K.Wagner
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Re: Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

Post by K.Wagner » November 8th, 2018, 12:27 pm

If you really want to build the endurance, go on a good cross country "hike" with Don!
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Re: Hike conditioning: do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones?

Post by Webfoot » November 8th, 2018, 5:43 pm

dmthomas49, you must be very consistent in pace for that time without any running, i.e. no making up time on flats (or less steep parts I guess in the case of Dog), making your pace on the steeps even more impressive to me. I'm curious; do you do stair climbing as well?

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