Hiking as marathon cross training

A cross training workout that I actually enjoy is hiking.  One might think there are not many great hikes in Florida, and … one would be right – at least if you're thinking about mountain passes and rocky scrambles.  However, as ABC-of-Hiking site says, "Hiking is simply Walking for recreational purposes" meaning you can do it anywhere.  So if someone tells you to "take a hike," they just want you to go have fun (kidding).   There are actually plenty of places to take a hike in Florida, and I hope to explore some of them this year.

Anyway, it turns out that hiking can actually be a great addition to a training program.  Because you can incorporate uphill segments in your hike, it can be like automatic interval training.  In general, if you walk in a controlled manner, hiking is a lot lower impact than running – and this is exactly what I'm looking for! Going up and down hills also works your leg muscles differnetly than simply running or walking on flat ground. 

However, there are quite a few more variables to consider when trying to plan and track your workouts – mainly, how does a long hike correlate to a long run?  For example, when hiking the number of calories you burn will depend on what you weigh, how much you're carrying, how fast you're trekking, and what the grade of the hike is.  On average, you'll burn about 50% more calories walking outside than on a treadmill (there are various calorie calculators such as this one).  Obviously, if you're making a big change in elevation or are carrying a large pack, this number would be even higher.

I'm going to try to correlate walking/hiking workouts to my running workouts from my last marathon training.  Any thoughts?


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