Hike-and-run training: a strategic approach to trail racing preparation

hike-and-run training

Engaging in rando-course or rando-trail, a training session that alternates between running and hiking phases, is an excellent way to prepare for trail races of any level. If you’ve ever ventured into the mountains for a run, chances are you’ve unconsciously incorporated elements of this technique. Let’s delve into how a hike-and-run session unfolds and explore some valuable tips.

Walking: A Trail-Specific Skill

In trail running, mastering the art of walking is indispensable. Even elite runners resort to walking on trails exceeding 40 kilometers, especially when faced with steep inclines (15% or more) or challenging technical terrain.

Walking not only provides relief to fatigued muscles but also helps maintain a reasonable heart rate. In ultra-trail events like the Mont-Blanc (160 km – elevation gain 10,000 m), trail runners may spend anywhere from 15% to 75% of their time walking, depending on their skill level and the duration of the race.

How Does a Hike-and-Run training Sessions Work?

During a hike-and-run session, the goal is to avoid exhausting your reserves and keep your heart rate below 75% of your maximum heart rate. If the inclination is pushing you into the red zone, embrace walking – it’s an integral part of the strategy.

The total duration of a hike-and-run session can range from 2 to 5 hours for races under 80 kilometers and up to 10 hours for ultra-trails. The walking component typically spans between 20% and 80%, contingent on the outing’s duration and technical complexity. Consider incorporating these sessions directly on the route of your upcoming trail race. For instance, in preparation for the UTMB, you can identify the course by completing 4 hike-and-run sessions, each lasting 8 to 12 hours, with overnight stays in refuges. Plan such sequences at least 4 weeks before the race to allow ample recovery time.

Preparing for Your Hike-and-Run:

Before embarking on a hike-and-run training, check weather reports and thoroughly study your chosen route to equip yourself appropriately. Mountain conditions can change rapidly, with temperatures dropping at higher elevations. Inform your loved ones about your planned route and carry essentials such as water, energy bars, or compotes for sustenance during the trek. Use this opportunity to test your trail nutrition strategy. Don’t forget a mobile phone for emergencies and any additional items you deem necessary.

Consider undertaking these outings with friends to provide mutual encouragement. Opt for companions who may have a slower pace, encouraging you to maintain comfort during these extended sessions.

Lastly, relish the experience and tune into your body’s sensations. Take in the breathtaking landscapes and observe the flora and fauna around you. Enjoy your hike-and-run adventure!

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Mailis Durif-VarambonMailis grew up in the mountains, where she went hiking and biking every weekend. She loves outdoor activities where she can relax at the end of the day. At RunMotion Coach, she is responsible for communication management.