How Hiking Improves Running
Written By: SportsShoes
Cross training with different activities can be beneficial to a lot of sports and hiking and running are two activities which can complement each other perfectly.
Here’s how heading out to the hills and getting out on a hike can be the perfect way to mix up your training and boost your running performance.
Hiking improves balance and agility
Running is a repetitive motion, utilising the same muscles over and over again through the gait cycle – generally to the neglect of other muscle groups. Hiking over uneven terrain demands changes of pace and direction, including both lateral and forward movement as well as balance and agility to take a path over uneven and often slippery terrain. That means engaging the stabilising and ancillary muscle groups - from the core, to the legs, hips, knees and ankles which will boost overall balance, strength and coordination.
Hiking builds strength, power and endurance
By incorporating hill climbs and distance into your hike, you’ll boost strength, endurance and power. Hills deliver an effective workout for your core, glutes and quads as you ascend and descend and you’ll feel the benefit of this when you meet a steep incline on your run. Likewise, while hiking won’t deliver the same running-specific benefits, the extra mileage and time on your feet will nonetheless help to build strength and endurance.
Hiking boosts recovery
Hiking is relatively low impact and easier on the joints, but also raises the heart rate and increases blood flow. This allows for effective aerobic exercise with relatively little stress and impact on the body while also enhancing repair and recovery. In utilising different muscle groups, running muscles are effectively given a day off, helping to reduce the risk of overtraining and injury. Try to schedule your hike for a rest day or easy run day to properly reap the recovery benefits.
Hiking gives us a mental time out
There’s no doubt about it – running can be monotonous, especially when it’s confined to the roads. Hiking in open spaces on scenic routes gives us space and tranquillity away from the pressures of everyday life, not to mention a break from constantly training to goals and targets. Hiking is great for mental health and research consistently demonstrates that exercise in green spaces can help to relieve stress, anxiety and depression. What’s more, it’s an activity all the family (who can sometimes feel side-lined by running) can enjoy together.
Check out our running hub for more advice on how to take your running to the next level. Or, for more details on the hiking boots and shoes available, take a look at our outdoor store.