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

Post by Don Nelsen » November 8th, 2018, 6:45 pm

dmthomas49 wrote:
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.
That is an excellent time! I was up there yesterday too but I was a wuss compared to your "Up Dog" time. It took me 1:22 to go up (but 1:01 down).
"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 9th, 2018, 6:59 am

I do some gym work but mostly a little cycle and a little stair master (not a lot), and some weights. My other main exercise is about 2-3 times a week, do a 5 mile fast walk around Round Lake, LaCamas creek. This is at the fastest walking pace I can do, maybe 4 MPH.

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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 9th, 2018, 7:16 am

K.Wagner wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 12:27 pm
If you really want to build the endurance, go on a good cross country "hike" with Don!
Don would likely kick my butt on a longer hike from reading his trip reports. :)

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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 9th, 2018, 9:36 am

Don Nelsen wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 6:45 pm


That is an excellent time! I was up there yesterday too but I was a wuss compared to your "Up Dog" time. It took me 1:22 to go up (but 1:01 down).
I may have seen you at the top. I was up there at about 9:30 and talked to someone about the fog. Was that you?

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

Post by SWriverstone » November 9th, 2018, 11:46 am

Bosterson wrote:
November 7th, 2018, 11:22 am
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. :)
This is great advice Bosterson—I've been kinda thinking this myself, but you really summed it up well. I have no doubt I could easily do 10-15 flat miles and feel pretty good afterward, but I need to start integrating that into the weekly hike schedule.

I'm amazed (and honestly a bit dubious) of anyone who can maintain 4mph hiking—but then I remind myself that height/leg length probably has a lot to do with this. I'm 5'11" (with legs probably a bit on the short side) and I find it damn near impossible to hike faster than, say, 3.25mph—any faster and I'm jogging. At a 3.25mph average, I'm taking strides as long as I can, as fast as I possibly can.

Scott

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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 9th, 2018, 7:27 pm

dmthomas49 wrote:
November 9th, 2018, 9:36 am
Don Nelsen wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 6:45 pm


That is an excellent time! I was up there yesterday too but I was a wuss compared to your "Up Dog" time. It took me 1:22 to go up (but 1:01 down).
I may have seen you at the top. I was up there at about 9:30 and talked to someone about the fog. Was that you?
Nope, not me! I hit the top at 1:40 and started back down five minutes later. Heck, I don't even get out of bed until 9:30 most days!

Don
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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

Post by Charley » November 9th, 2018, 7:29 pm

I'm only 37, but because of getting hit by a truck about 9 years ago, I've had a constellation of soft tissue maladies. I've managed to stay very active, however, and I would credit all of that to PT and other strength training exercises. I find that, even if most of my hiking "training" is once-weekly hour long walk through my neighborhood, if I'm doing my squats and lunges and whatnot, the occasional longer distance hike is not that painful.

When I'm not doing that strength training, I can't go as hard and won't feel as good at the end of my relatively infrequent hikes. Even if I'm not hiking all that often or that hard, as long as my strength training is up to date, I can bang out a longer dayhike with less trouble! That's important to me because, while I cycle for exercise regularly (and ski in the winter), it's hard for me to find the time to get out of town to do longer/steeper hikes. It's hard to ramp up to 8 hour hikes when the week doesn't offer anything longer than about an hour to for walking.

I'd guess that if a lot of your discomforts are muscular or joint related, a program of strength training might allow you to extend your endurance with a smaller investment of time/driving, compared to actually going out and hiking gradually longer/steeper dayhikes. In other words, strength training, balanced with the shorter, harder efforts it sounds like your'e already doing, is super efficient at improving hiking fitness.

With climbing, however, it's a whole 'nother level. Because the bounty of Oregon's spring ski season disrupts my spring mountaineering training season, sometimes it takes me a few months to warm up to harder trips. I did a 22 hour, 17 mile, 7,000' elevation gain mountain climbing trip this July, but there's no way I would have been able to do that in May or June of this year. I just didn't have enough miles under my legs at that point in the year, and there's no substitute for ramping up to that kind of effort.

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

Post by Chip Down » November 11th, 2018, 7:20 pm

SWriverstone wrote:
November 5th, 2018, 9:58 pm
So I'm just wondering what others have experienced? (Particular anyone over 50.) Have you slowed down and shortened your hikes with age?
Well...sort of. Thing is, most places around here have good trailhead access. There aren't that many attractions that aren't accessible. But yeah, I've tapered off a bit.

Anyway, to your question:
I know you're not a novice, but if I was advising a novice hiker, I'd explain that he needs to have three things: strong muscles, the characteristic we call cardiovascular fitness, and sturdy joints that can endure hours of pounding. Your question was "do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones". Personally, I find that what shuts me down is achy feet and joints. For that, short fast hikes wont help. You need to get out there and carry heavy loads all day. Of course, your limiting factor might not be the same as mine. Maybe your limiting factor is wobbly rubbery exhausted legs, or wheezing and gasping for breath.
kepPNW wrote:
November 6th, 2018, 7:30 am
Prophylactic ibuprofen helps.
For a few seconds, I wondered what the heck that was. Never heard of that. Oh, I get it. :lol:
retired jerry wrote:
November 7th, 2018, 6:15 am
I'm envious of Don:)
Ha, yeah, who isn't?

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

Post by arlohike » November 15th, 2018, 4:02 pm

My personal experience is that I need one long hike that wears me out pretty well, and then I'm good for hikes up to that length for the rest of the season. For example, my typical hikes are 8-10 miles, so if I do one at 15 miles it will feel like a lot, but then I can do more at that length with relative ease. I also do road biking in the summers and have experienced the same pattern.

Regarding slowing down with age, I'm 45 and up to a few years ago I could have kept up with my 20 year old self pretty well. The last few years have had more family demands and less time for outdoor adventures, but I expect that will eventually turn back around. I'm definitely not lacking in motivation. My biggest physical limitation is often back pain, but I think that comes mainly from sitting all day for my job.

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

Post by raven » November 25th, 2018, 2:33 pm

Do lots of short hikes prepare you for long ones? No.

There is fitness, and there is pacing. Experience adjusts the way we use our energy over the long haul of a day or week, with a large pack or small, and as the grade changes or the footing. Muscles in use change, and the goal is to tire them all at once, so the body learns from practice how to adjust. You cannot teach your body about long days on short days; or repeated days on isolated day trips; or steeper routes on gentler trails; or longer climbs on short climbs.

Pacing, and suitable fitness, come with practice. That said, being fit for fast short hikes helps a lot. Energy throughput is the cube of the travel rate, so slow down 10% and you'll be using only 3/4 of the energy per minute. That will vastly increase your endurance because you won't be oxygen starved. Your feet and knees won't be pummeled as hard either.

The lower effort level is a good first step in increasing distance but may be quite hard to manage because your body is used to and likes working harder than that; so, if you try it, do increase your hiking time or distance by 40% or so to associate the decreased effort level with longer periods of exercise. This would only be a first step in learning to pace yourself, but would show you a path.

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