Some of the best training that you can do for long, tough races in the mountains are power hiking laps. Power hiking, when you are not running but still moving quickly, is an excellent skill to build and one of the most essential tools to use to conserve your energy during long endeavors. Instead of running up a steep climb, it is better to tighten your glutes, shorten your stride, and begin to power hike. You are not simply walking up the steep trail, you must still move with purpose and drive towards the top. Occasionally, when the hill becomes especially steep it is wise to put your hands on your knees, to push off and give yourself extra force on each step. Performing a power hiking workout about once a week when training for a tough trail race is a great way to prepare your body for any adventure.

There is an unnamed, largely unknown ascent behind Cal Poly which is a perfect training ground for my upcoming race, the Santa Barbara Nine Trails. Nine Trails is a 35-mile long race with about 10,000’ of elevation gain so I need to get my climbing legs as ready as possible. Beginning at the bottom of the northernmost side of the Bishop building in Cal Poly’s Cerro Vista housing complex, this climb is rarely used but perfect for training your legs to ascend steep, technical routes. At 0.3 miles from bottom to top, while gaining 581 feet in a 29.1% grade, this climb packs a punch. For three laps, power hiking up and running down, you can get roughly 1,800’ of elevation gain in 2.65 miles. Be careful on the upper section of the climb, where the ground becomes steep and very slippery due to gravel. Otherwise, lap this climb or one in your own running area as many times as you want to get in a wonderful power hiking session that is simple and straightforward.

Note: this post is an assignment for the Journalism 285 class that I am taking at Cal Poly.


Jarod Contreras


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