How To Get Better At Hiking if You’re a Runner
So, you’ve been on a few hikes, but even the “easy” ones are killing you. Why is that? If you are new to hiking or perhaps you’re not a very active person, even easy hikes can take a toll on your body.
However, this can change!
By following these few pieces of advice, you can learn how to get better at hiking.
How to Get Better at Hiking?
Alright, it’s not going to happen overnight, but it can happen quickly.
Here are a few tips:
1. Hike more often
A great way to get better at something is to continue practicing, right? Each day hike you go on will build your strength and eventually make the sport easier.
However, it is important to know your limits. Don’t take on a long, advanced trail when you’re just starting out.
2. Do other forms of exercise
Hiking uses so many different muscles in your body. You can strengthen your legs, arms, and core by doing other forms of exercise. All of these parts of the body are crucial when hiking. The stronger they are, the better hiker you’ll become.
This includes going to the gym (we recommend lunges, squats and cross training), lifting weights (strength training), walking, jogging, running, biking, etcetera.
3. Wear proper clothing
Function over fashion. Not only will proper hiking gear keep you more comfortable, but it will also keep you safer. Choose hiking boots that offer stability, traction, and possible ankle support. Clothing should be weather-appropriate and comfortable.
4. Plan your hikes ahead of time
Knowing what terrains you will encounter will help you mentally and physically prepare for longer hikes. It’s important to know about the distance, inclines and elevation gain, and possible river crossings before you head out.
How Does Hiking Change Your Body?
Hiking is a full-body cardio workout. It increases your heart rate, engages different muscle groups in your legs, glutes, quadriceps core, and sometimes arms. It aids in endurance balance, builds strength and tones your muscles. Many people lose body weight when hiking regularly.
You are also at a lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, and other diseases with all of these positive outcomes.
Aside from physically changing your body, hiking also has mental health benefits. Hiking can help to reduce stress and anxiety, increase endorphin and serotonin levels in the brain, and even boost your creativity.
Should You Stretch Before Hiking?
Absolutely. Stretching before you hike will help you with your flexibility and will keep you safer on the trails by warming up your muscles and hopefully avoiding injury. In addition, it also reduces muscle soreness.
Before your hike, you should focus on stretching and warming up key joints such as your ankles, knees, hips, and back if you are carrying a heavy load.
After a hike, it’s all about thanking your body for the hard work. You can stretch out your calves, hamstrings, and core. You might also want to give your feet a quick massage.
Remember to arrive ten minutes early to the trail for a quick warm-up and to take a few minutes after the hike to relax and stretch your muscles before driving home.
How Long Does It Take To Become a Better Hiker?
The answer to this question depends on how often you hike or train. Each time you engage in physical activities or exercise, you become a little stronger.
If you are dedicated, it’s possible that you could become a better hiker in a matter of weeks.
What Helps Sore Legs After Hiking?
Now that you know how to get better at hiking, you need to learn about body aftercare. As I mentioned before, stretching before and after hiking is a great way to lessen the soreness you might experience.
If you are a beginner hiker or went on a very intense hike, you may need a few more reinforcements.
- Ice and/or heat treatments
- Wearing compression clothing after hiking for a few hours
- Taking magnesium
- Consuming a healthy and well-balanced meal after the hike
- Continuing to hydrate
- Massaging your muscles with your hands or with a foam roller
4 Extra Tips Every Hiker Should Follow
1. Always inform someone (who isn’t hiking with you) of where you are going. If you get lost or hurt and can’t leave the trail for some reason, your buddy will know where to look for you or send help.
2. Don’t rely on electronics. On many trails, there is no cell phone service. On long hikes, electronics lose their battery. You’ll be much more well-prepared by learning how to read a map and use a traditional compass.
3. Know your limits. Go at a pace that works for you. If the rest of your group is running the trail, try to find a happy medium with them or find a buddy in the group who doesn’t mind going at a more leisurely pace.
Also, it’s important to know your limits in terms of terrains. If you are not comfortable with a 10-mile hike that includes scrambling, don’t go.
4. Keep the trail clean. Pack out what you pack in. Even better, leave the trail even cleaner that you found it.
Hiking is a great activity for anyone at any age. There are millions of different trails that are catered to all fitness levels of physical activity. While there is no magic pill, learning how to become a better hiker is a simple process. It requires dedication, but provides you with mental and physical benefits.
It’s time to step up and get moving!
Which trail are you hitting next?
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