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  • About VJ
  • June 13, 2020 3 min read

    Alyssa g sign






    A Case for Adding Hiking to Your Endurance Training


    I consider myself fortunate to have found endurance sports so young — I arrived at the finish line of my first 50 mile race as a twenty year old. The rest was history as they say, and since then I have completed over 45 ultra marathons, 33 iron-distance triathlons, and one FKT. I’m not a believer that people have a set amount of miles to run their body and when the odometer clicks over to the final number, the body is done. But I do realize that the body won’t perform at its highest level forever. And at 35, I’m looking to do everything I can to maximize the fast miles I have left. 


    One of the ways my coach, Hillary Biscay, has helped me maximize my longevity in sport, while minimizing injury, has been through getting creative in how we get the miles in. Even while training for the 273 miles of Vermont’s Long Trail, we didn’t just pile on endless miles as tempting as it might seem to do so. Instead, we looked to maximize our bang for the buck, and the answer for that? Hiking. 


    Hiking has many ways it can be used, and I believe it can be the perfect addition in any training plan. My favorite uses of hiking are:

    1. Repeats of a climb. There can be so many variations to this — just plain hiking repeats on a climb, hiking up and running down, or hiking up and down with a weight vest. All of these will get you strong if vert is something you are focusing on — not only for the climbing but also for descending!
    2. Thru-hiking. Taking anywhere from 2-3 days - or longer - to thru-hike is a nice big deposit in the strength bucket for your whole body. Depending on your ability, try to plan to be hiking anywhere from 4-6 or even 8-10 hours a day. I prefer to thru-hike in the “fast-pack” style going as light as possible, but even a 20 pound pack adds a whole new dimension and you’ll come out of that time stronger than ever. I recently thru-hiked the 70-mile Ring trail in the Massanutten Mountains over 3 days. Having the long days carrying a pack was a full body workout while still being generally low impact. It’s very sneaky like that!
    3. Hiking on tired legs. Hiking can also be snuck into the end of a week for a low impact way to spend more time on your legs, and is great especially if you are considering multi-day endurance events. Often after a long hard run on Saturday, I’ll take Sunday and spend 4-5 hours hiking in Blue Ridge Mountains near where I live. Forcing your legs to find strength to climb mountains or hills when they are already tired is where the magic gets made. And again - you’re keeping it relatively ‘easy’ on your system overall by not pushing the pace and just hiking. 

    Many people are afraid that by adding in hiking, by virtue of a walk being a slow pace, they will lose speed. I wouldn’t necessarily advocate a lot of hiking if you are training for a high end PR-pace event. But for overall strength building and training for endurance pace events - hiking might just be the tool you’ve been overlooking!


    If you’re in VJ Shoes you’ve already got one of the essentials for your hikes ahead. No matter what your hiking pace, you still want durability, good drainage, and of course the #bestgripontheplanet to take with you in the woods. 



    Alyssa is based in Charlottesville, Virginia and has over 15 years experience as an endurance sports athlete. She has been coaching since 2013 and has been competing as a professional triathlete since 2014. Alyssa has finished 33 iron-distance races, including 2 finishes at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Alyssa is also the current record holder for the Female Supported Fastest Known Time on Vermont’s Long Trail. In July of 2018 she completed the 273 mile trail in 5 days, 2 hours and 37 minutes. You can find her on instagram @alyssagodesky or www.alyssagodesky.com