5 Reasons Why Hiking Is The Best Cross-Training

This low impact activity could seriously help your running.

5 Reasons Why Hiking Is The Best Cross Training

This is the week that I start my summer and fall training in earnest (a few ultras, two road marathons—NYC and Marine Corps, and a few Tough Mudders). My plan dictates NO RUNNING on Mondays or Fridays since I’ll be doing back to back long runs on most weekends. So what to do with a body that yearns to be moving in an intentional way without hopping on my spin-bike, lifting weights (that’s tomorrow…), or doing a video? Hiking is the obvious answer!

I happen to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the Southeast, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It would be a travesty not to be on trails as much as possible whether for running, camping, backpacking or hiking. This beauty is right in my backyard; there’s actually a game trail behind my house—more like a BEAR trail, but that’s a story for another day.

So today I hopped in the car with a friend and we drove two towns over to visit one of the many gorgeous mountaintops in North Carolina. We agreed upon the following:

1. You’ll get a great cardio and strength-training workout that is low impact. Even a short hike can leave you gasping for air. If you’re a runner who is unaccustomed to trails, moving your body in all planes while moving forward might just be the thing to wake up some long-forgotten muscles, and um, your lungs.

2. You can take cool pictures of yourself doing yoga poses on top of a mountain. Or you can skip the pictures and just do yoga.

3. The views are ALWAYS worth it. The earth’s bounty is right in front of us, right here. Right now.

4. The air is amazing—whether you’re on a mountaintop or nestled deep in rhododendron and mountain laurel, trail perfume can be tantalizing, especially after rain and when little spring flowers are blooming.

5. The sounds of the forest—trickling streams, small animals scurrying and your feet crushing leaves and pine needles—remind you of our most basic, visceral connection to the earth.

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