Does Running Help Train For Hiking? (Explained For Beginners)

Running is an excellent way to keep fit and remain healthy. If you run for at least four days a week, your body develops endurance which is helpful when long treacherous walks come calling. The more you run, the more your body remains fit.

Hiking is an exercise that demands endurance and strength for anyone who wants to engage in it. Running is part of the exercises at the core of hiking preparation. To what extent does running help? Learn more about how it helps as an essential requirement.

Here’s whether running helps you train for hiking

Running before a hike partly prepares you. Hiking has more aspects than running endurance. If you want a run that will prepare you, consider trail running, which involves scaling hills and rough terrain synonymous with what you encounter while hiking. It’ll strengthen your muscles, improve your fitness, and increase your agility on tricky terrain.


Do I need to train before going hiking?

You need to, considering the nature of the hike. It will also depend on which season you’re going for the trip. If the walk is during winter, your training will be slightly different and more demanding than when you’re going for one during summer.

Training helps in conditioning your body and mind to endure the hiking journey.

When hiking for days, you will carry supplies and navigate rugged terrain while carrying your backpack. So, you need to develop stamina.

For instance, hiking in winter is the most difficult of hikes, especially when you are ascending.

The attire, including clothes, the winter package, and a backpack, is heavy. Your body and mind conditioning needs to be great.

Another aspect is your body agility and the sharpness of your mind. Anything can happen while on a hike. Some hiking dynamics are slipping, pulling yourself up to go over a cliff, or jumping.

Good all-rounded preparation is necessary to prepare yourself to deal with any eventualities.

How do you get in shape for hiking?

You must train to get in shape with the hike demands in mind. As mentioned, hiking in winter seems to be the most demanding because of the weather, which brings a lot of uncertainties like snow, freezing rain, or sleet.

Training on how to avoid or deal with frost bites and hyperthermia is crucial since one of you can encounter either.

If you don’t have the requisite training to hike in winter, please keep off and do it some other time when it’s safer.

See related: Does Canned Oxygen Really Work?

Hiking during winter

When hiking in winter you need more strength to walk on snow as you carry your load. It would help if you were well conditioned concerning balance and alertness since you don’t know what you are stepping on as you walk. Some of your load will be as follows:

  • Mountaineering boots’ weight can be 3-5 pounds a pair
  • The weight of snowshoes can be four pounds a pair
  • Microspikes can way up to 12 ounces
  • A couple of carpons can be 1-3 pounds
  • Sorel footwear’s weight can be between three and five pounds a pair
  • The weight of knee-high gaiters can be 10 pounds
  • And your backpack will vary with what you’re carrying

To get in shape during winter hiking is to snowshoe. Make a slow start if you have never carried heavy loads on your backpack and your feet.

Build the endurance over time and target how many hours you’ll hike and the elevation distance you’ll cover.

Try doing it practically as much as possible with a weekly outing as you push a bit further to build your stamina every time you venture out.

Do the walking with a full backpack as a practical simulation.


You can go to the gym and work out to build your strength. If you’re not able to do snowshoeing, you can substitute or augment it with intense cardio like:

  • Lunges
  • Planks
  • Deadlift
  • Goblet squat
  • Walking lunges
  • Squat jumps
  • Step ups and more

Hiking during summer

You might need a slightly different workout focusing on endurance without the heavy attire for winter hiking. Unlike winter, your training will focus on long walk endurance in the sun.

The workout frequency needs to peak during the summer heat since it’s the same conditions you will hike in.

Like any other preparation, start early around spring to train your body and leg muscles in anticipation of the treks. For your legs, work on your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves to prevent “hikers knee.” because you depend on your legs to take you through the hiking distance.

Hikers’ knee is when your leg turns inwards when walking or running due to weak hamstrings and quadriceps. If you’re a beginner, be aware of hikers’ knees because it has the potential to cause great harm.

Imagine if you are walking with a backpack and you lose balance at the edge of a cliff when hikers’ knees strike. You risk falling over, which should be avoided at all costs.

So, to strengthen your hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps, consider exercises like cycling and walking fast (brisk walking) on a treadmill or outdoors.

Another safe and intense training is walking on sand, preferably while carrying a backpack, to simulate an actual trek. Walking on sand also builds muscles and works on your balance and concentration.

Also, try exercising using ankle weights. Since you are a beginner, start with lower weights as you scale up. While on your back and one leg bent, lift the other leg slowly, watching for your stretching limit. Then, do the same with the other leg. Repeat severally to build strength.

For your hamstring, stand with your arms on your hips to establish balance. Then lift one leg (still with ankle weights) towards the back as you lean forward with your arms outstretched and see if you can make a 90degree posture with the lifted leg.

Repeat with the other leg, and please be mindful of your limits to prevent injury.

What fitness component is needed in hiking?

The fitness component needed for hiking is endurance. When you train your body, endurance should be the focus. You can achieve endurance by developing strength, flexibility, and aerobic conditioning.

To build your strength, perform exercises like:

Wall sit: Stand with your back on the wall and your legs a bit further so that when you simulate a sitting position, your knees should be at 90 degrees, then push yourself up. Repeat severally to help strengthen your knees when you encounter steep descents on a hike.

Squats: One of the best for your leg exercises, but if you have knee problems, keep doing the wall sit until your legs develop the requisite muscles.

Planks: Do planks by assuming a pushup position and maintain the posture for as long as possible. Take a few-second break and repeat severally.

Calf raises: Stand on the edge of an angular raised platform with half your feet. Raise your body up and down. This exercise strengthens your calves, works out your Achilles heel, and prevents your ankles from twisting while doing steep descents.

Exercises that will develop your upper body, which will carry your load, can feature dips, chin-ups, and pushups. The workouts will increase your capacity to carry your backpack without tiring.

For flexibility, perform stretches that keep your muscles agile to prevent injuries. Always stretch in the middle, at the end of your workouts, and during your recovery. Stretching also helps in reducing muscle pain.

When should you start running to train for a hike?

It’s advisable to start your runs early, at about eight weeks before the hike. The reason is to build up momentum in your body muscles slowly. As you begin the runs as a beginner, avoid over-exerting your body; always pay attention to it.

Combine the runs with some of the workouts highlighted in this article using a schedule like the one below:

Strength training: Two days continuously (refer to exercises in this article)

Rest days: Two days continuously. Allow your body to rest frequently and when it demands

Cardio sessions: Maintain a three alternate day frequency every week until two weeks before the hike.

Two weeks to the hike: Substitute the cardio and strength training days with every day 60+ minutes hikes. Carry a backpack with the estimated load size you’ll carry during the trek.

One or two days before the hike, do a lot of stretching to relax your muscles.

Read more: Are “ON” running shoes good for hiking?

Do you need a professional trainer to train for a hike?

To go about the training correctly, the better when you get access to a trainer. Professional trainers know the perfect exercises for hike training. They can help you focus on the core exercise mixing with others as they show you how to execute them. Since you are beginning, a professional guide is excellent for your foundation.

Running is essential

The best aspect of running is the endurance it develops in your body. Hiking involves long walks sometimes in harsh and uneven terrain. Combining running with other exercises that a hiker requires puts you in good shape as you prepare for the trip.

You don’t have to run when preparing for a hiking expedition. Form a habit of running for your general fitness at least 3-4 days a week. So that when you want to prepare for the hike, the transition will be seamless.