Ian Sharman is an elite level ultrarunner and coach. A 4 time winner of the Leadville 100 Miler, and in 2013, he set the fastest time for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. Ian also runs sharmanultra.com, where he offers coaching services. I have regularly listened to his appearances on the Science Of Ultra Podcast. I have always found his tips and advice for ultra training inciteful and given me ideas I can incorporate into my training. One episode I particularly enjoyed was on hiking for ultras. You can listen to this episode by clicking the player below. The interview talks about weighted vest power hiking training and how it can dramatically improve your race performance and make you a more well-rounded ultra-runner.

In this article, we’ll look at weighted vest power hiking training, the benefits, how to do it and how often. We’ll also give you some more information on weighted vests and what to look for when buying one, as well as a few recommendations in a comparison table. The weighted vest we have featured below would be perfect – nothing flashy, affordable and adjustable.

Weighted Vest Power Hiking Training

Power hiking is a great way to improve your strength and endurance for an ultra event. In general, you should incorporate hiking into your long, easy effort runs, especially on hilly runs. What if you don’t have access to trails and rugged terrain, especially if you live in a city? A great way to improve your hiking is to use a weight vest.

You can use the weighted vest for power hiking on smaller sections of trail that you might have access to., such as a short uphill section at a local park or nature reserve.

Even if you live in or close to an area with easy access to rugged terrain, hills and mountains, weight vests are a great way to build legs muscles, core strength, and balance.

Weighted Vest Power Hiking On A Treadmill

If there are no local trails near you, hike on a treadmill with a weight vest with a high incline (20% or higher if you can). Doing so will significantly improve the ability to move uphill and help to absorb the pounding of downhills. 20% is an excellent incline level to use to replicate hiking. However, consider varying the incline to give your muscles a different feel and replicate the varying terrain you’ll encounter on the trail. So you could do 15 minutes at 20%, 10 minutes at 15% and then back to 20%; you could add in more effort on the lower inclines too.

Regardless of whether you get to hike on the Peak District’s trails, a local trail route or a treadmill, the ket is purposeful practice. Don’t just walk like your browsing the aisles at a supermarket; push the pace, and make it an effective workout. You should do this almost every time you walk, and if you do, it will become a habit. So, when you need to walk in an ultra, it will feel natural to keep moving at speed.

Buying A Weighted Vest

A weighted vest does not have to be expensive. If you are using it for hiking and walking, you don’t have to have a hugely have body-hugging fit. The more comfortable weighted vests can be very expensive and are not necessary for power hiking training.

One cost-effective way to replicate the benefits of a weighted vest is to load up your backpack. The weight distribution of doing so is not ideal; however, it will save you a bit of money.

How Heavy Should A Weighted Vest Be

The weight of the vest you need will come down to your body weight. The purpose of doing weighted vest power hiking is not to make the training session overly tricky; it’s to add a little extra challenge. A 10kg weighted is plenty for most people. Opt for a weighted vest that allows you to remove weight from the compartments. Then you can start at a lighter weight and increase little by little as your body adapts.

How Often Should I Do Weighted Vest Power Hiking

To start, make it easy and maybe only hike a few miles in your weighted vest so that you give your body a chance to adapt. Afterwards, you can set aside one session per week where you use a weighted vest for hiking. Try to include one session per week where you hike and make it part of your active recovery.

However, if you struggle for time and would rather dedicate your free time to running, there are other options.

One option is to use the weighted vest when carrying out everyday tasks that involve walking. Such tasks could be taking the kids to school, going to the local shops or walking to work. When you first start using your weighted vest, you might find that your muscle aches a little; eventually, this will fade. When it fades, using the weighted vest for hiking or walking is perfect for active recovery sessions.

Power Hiking In Ultra Events

Ar some point in an ultra event, almost everyone will need to hike; this could be because the terrain has become too steep, you need a break, or you want to conserve energy and pace the race better. You might also intend to hike or jog the entire event, and if that is the case, hiking training is even more crucial.

If you plan to run the majority of an ultra race, it is vital not to use power-hiking as an afterthought and something you only do when you need a rest. When you hike with purpose in an ultra, there are significant gains to be made.

My Experience Of Hiking An Ultra Event

I took part in a 52.75K Ultra event in 2019, and at the time, I wasn’t running, but I could walk and hike at a decent pace. In the event, I managed to maintain an average pace of just over 6KPH and ended up finishing in 100th place. Nothing to write home about for competitive racers; I was happy, though.

Power Hiking A 50K Ultra Event

There were quite a few occasions where runners and joggers would overtake me at the beginning of a significant incline. By the time I got halfway up, I had caught them up, passed them and kept gong. My hiking pace remained consistent whilst they had slipped to a slow walk. You might also be interested in our guide to selecting your first ultramarathon.

When To Hike In An Ultra When Your A Runner

If you are jogging or running in an ultra event, it might be tempting to treat your hiking sections as just a break and to hike any old section randomly. It is far more effective to be more strategic with your hiking in an ultra race. One of the most prominent places to power hike is on uphill efforts. Even on flatter sections later in an event, you might need to hike. The need could be because fatigue has set in, and the overall intensity is taking its toll on your body. If you need to hike on the flatter sections, maintain momentum with a more purposeful intensity level.

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