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Is it still running if you hike the hills?


When I first started trail running I’d beat myself up if I had to slow down and hike. After all, running is defined as moving “at a speed greater than a walk.” Since I had such a high standard, I found myself choosing flatter trail runs that I knew I could run instead of challenging myself with hills. Down the road (or trail, rather) I learned that many great runners hike the hills! Hiking preserves strength during loner runs and by no means disqualifies you as a runner.

Has hiking helped you improve your running? Do you ever do a full hiking day to train for a race? What are some other benefits of hiking as a runner?

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.
5 Replies

Are you breathing hard? Is your pulse rate elevated? Are you maintaining that level of exertion for a fairly lengthy time (more than twenty minutes or so). If your answers are "yes." you are essentially doing aerobic activity and with time you will be stronger and faster.

I used to run a good bit, 70 or more miles a week, especially when training for marathons, and i found that i could hike longer hills and steeper hills, with no muscle fatigue or cramping, and a lower pulse rate,etc., so running improves hiking.  I think it works both ways.


@hikermor, you ask great questions! I would agree, any aerobic activity should help build strength. Looking at perceived effort and heart rate is so helpful when trying to decide if you really could or should run up a long hill. 

The trail running community is so accepting of hiking hills, and I think they/we are stronger for it. I've also found that sometimes I can hike faster than I can shuffle run!


At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

@REI-CharityP I’m 66 & just taken up “running” for first time ever as part of our Kulshan Crossfit gym leading virtual WODs. Part of my routine is to “run” up hill to a water tower. I’ve found the days I keep a very slow but steady pace, I am actually slower overall than the days I “run” and walk very fast when I start to lose my breath. But the variety of pacing day to day is what keeps this newcomer enjoying it. 

@REI-CharityP I pass more runners on the uphills, when I'm doing my uphill power-hike and they are 'running' the ups, than any other time while trail running. 

A strong uphill power hike is a must-have skill to be a trail runner!

"A strong uphill power hike is a must-have skill to be a trail runner!"

Now that, I would have to agree with. No beginner can achieve that.