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Diet for High Mileage Long Hikes
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Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Fuel on 02/17/2006 00:10:24 MST Print View


I think that the greatest problem to face with a hike of this length is monotony of foods. I found on a 30 day backpack that I was swapping my favorite nuts (cashews) for peanuts at about day 15. Whatever was working for 7-10 day trips started to to become repulsive at two weeks. You know you need the calories but it starts to become difficult to force down the favorites.
The one thing that I like about energy drinks is that you do not need to each as much solid food.
One other trick I liked to do was to bring as many kinds of energy bars along to vary the tastes.


carlos fernandez rivas
(pitagorin) - MLife

Locale: Galicia -Spain
butter vs olive oil on 02/17/2006 02:41:33 MST Print View

Ryan only one suggestion

I think that olive oil could be a better caloric addition for your meals

Stephen Eggleston
(happycamper) - F

Locale: South Bayish
Long Hike Diet on 02/17/2006 11:14:11 MST Print View

Nutrition needs vary SO much between individuals. One person can eat fat, fat and more fat while other people just can't. Read the article on this site about that alaskan adventure racer (bill merchant?) He was eating whole sticks of butter rolled in sugar and huge quantities of chocolate covered expresso beans!! Other people needs to heavily carbo load with less protein. Others need high protein.

I can only suggest adding in some 'superfoods' like spirulina/green food tablets and bee pollen/royal jelly. Also an herbal suppliment such as siberian ginseng or american ginseng could provide a moderate & balanced boost. These types of foods can improve the nutrient quality/profile of the diet.

Additionally I am a fan of homemade 'powerbars' using whole foods that are nutrient dense. Using ingredients like oats, butter, nuts, dried fruits, protein powder, honey, etc.

Edited by happycamper on 02/17/2006 14:55:25 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Long Hike Diet on 02/17/2006 11:34:50 MST Print View

Additionally I am a fan of homemade 'powerbars' using whole foods that are nutrient dense. Using ingredients like oats, butter, nuts, dried fruits, protein powder, honey, etc.

Care to share some recipes?

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Long Hike Diet on 02/17/2006 12:04:14 MST Print View

My expedition menu planning has been predicated on satisfying the following heart rate zone – food type utilization ratios. Prior to an expedition, and already physically fitness trained, I do relatively short tests, in the simulated expedition environment, to determine the range for my % of max heart rate. I then bring expedition food, which in aggregate, satisfies the appropriate gross fat/carbs/protein ratio to augment the lbs of body fat I am planning on reducing for a specific expedition.

Heart Rate Zone 1 (50-60% of MHR)
Fat 85%
Carbs 10%
Protein 5%

Heart Rate Zone 2 (60-70% of MHR)
Fat 80%
Carbs 15%
Protein 5%

Heart Rate Zone 3 (70-80% of MHR)
Fat 40%
Carbs 55%
Protein 5%

Heart Rate Zone 4 (80-90% of MHR)
Fat 25%
Carbs 70%
Protein 5%

Heart Rate Zone 5 (90-100% of MHR)
Fat 5%
Carbs 90%
Protein 5%

I have assumed that the more trained for the sport, the individual is, the lower their heart rate zone is for a that sport endeavor. Consequently, the same set of ratios should be generally applicable to all fitness levels. In my earlier post I explained how I calculate the total number of calories to bring on a trip. This post addresses the make-up of those calories.

I would like feedback from Dr J, R Brissey, P Johnson and others as to what your tunderstanding and experiences are with the diet ratios for different heart rate zones.

Edited by richard295 on 02/17/2006 13:04:47 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Long Hike Diet on 02/17/2006 12:50:13 MST Print View

Richard, you've sure given us some great posts which are very informative and useful. I don't feel qualified to respond however. I'm certainly no expert at any rate. Let's see how Mr. Brissey responds, I'm sure that we both (definitely me at least) will learn something from him. To be honest, my real intense physical training was 25-35yrs ago. To my knowledge, muscle and exercise physiology was just starting to become real sciences (outside of the Soviet Block anyways). While most of the theory is still valid, most of the research that I'm familiar with might be outdated by this time. Besides, personally, I never paid too much attention to this type of food breakdown. I just ate a lot of protein, carbs, and fats - a bunch from high protein milk shakes (casein/protein powder additives) with raw eggs either mixed in or in a glass with the milk shake as a "chaser" (never contracted salmonella from the raw eggs).

Edited by pj on 02/17/2006 13:35:06 MST.

long one on nutrition on 02/17/2006 13:36:12 MST Print View

40/30/30 is a good all around setup for active individuals (carbs/prot/fat)

If doing moderate intensity you can adjust to more 50/20/30 or 50/15/35, and many triathletes will do this when approaching race season since this usually corresponds with increased mileage.

Fat is great for calories, but you have enough stored on your body for many days of sustenance. So consuming massive quantities is gonna put a strain on your circulatory and digestive systems. As it's been heard, "fat burns in a carbohydrate flame," so don't expect for your body to be a fat burning machine.

Long-distance athletes spend many hours "base-training" (approx sub-130bpm) to acclimitize their body to maximize usage from oxygen, fat, and glycogen in the body. At this lvl 1/2 exertion you're burning fat/carbs/protein proportionately.

At higher bpm's your body begins to depend more upon glycogen stored in the muscles/liver and that provided by carbohydrate consumption (usually in the form of high-GI sugar). Less fat is burned at these levels although you can increase the amount burned by base training at a lower level of exertion. On average, most people's muscles have enough stored for approx 50-80 mins of moderate exertion, beyond that long chains of glycogen (short and easily used ones already in the muscle) from the liver must be broken down, which will provide bodily fuel for several hours. If you haven't been topping off the tank before, during, and after all this work, you're body will go catabolic aka eat itself...
This is why it's a good idea to replenish carbohydrate stores with approx a 7-9% solution (aka gatorade). It's also shown that a few grams of protein consumed with that carbo beverage will delay muscle fatigue/soreness and prolong endurance.

Sorry so long, but that's just a lil bit of the triathletes skinny on what your insulin delivery system is doing with glycogen and carbs.

Also let's not forget MCT's--Medium chain Triglycerides help delay glycogen depletion in the body prolonging endurance.

--nutrition and how many cals per hour you can tolerate and whether it be a solid, gel, or liquid form is an important aspect to long-distance ventures.

Personally, I take a few aminos, endurolytes or sea salt, and gatorade. Mainly because it's readily available. If I'm doing an event, I like the taste of champion nutrition's carbo bev and met endurance (pre-event meal replacement w/ mct's)

Mct's naturally occur in coconut oil.

we can go on 4ever with this stuff, just ask any endurance athlete about nutrition plans, but ultimately whatever tastes good to you when you're all hot and sweaty is the best better go get hot and sweaty and see what looks good in your snack pan...

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: long one on nutrition on 02/17/2006 14:11:26 MST Print View

>>"At higher bpm's your body begins to depend more upon glycogen stored in the muscles/liver and that provided by carbohydrate consumption (usually in the form of high-GI sugar). Less fat is burned at these levels" [emphasis mine]

Good post. Just one question for clarification:
Are you trying to say less fat is burned at higher workout intensities, or are you saying that a lower percentage of the calories burned come from fat as the energy source. I think you meant the portion of energy provided by fat is now a lower percentage of the overall energy sources being utilized at a given point in time at high %VO2-max. This is what I recall learning many moons ago. Not trying to be nitpicky here. Not everyone reading this Thread has your level of understanding of human phys. Can you clarify please. Many thanks.

Edited by pj on 02/17/2006 14:44:46 MST.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Diet for High Mileage Long Hikes on 02/17/2006 14:39:35 MST Print View

Thanks Bill, for all the great information you provided in response to my questions! I went to the Ensure web site looking for the dry version of Ensure but did not see it. Is it something that is available to the general public? You mentioned your dietitians help in procuring it. Is this required?

Ensure is intriguing to me, but the liquid form seems problematic for backpacking because of the weight. By the way, how well does it keep? Last year I was reading about the Race Across America that Randy mentioned in his post above, and Ensure Plus seems to be the diet of choice. Here is the link:

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Diet for High Mileage Long Hikes on 02/17/2006 15:58:07 MST Print View

Eric, They call it Powder and it is hard to find.

Try Here

I have had the Ensure Plus and a lot of something called ProSure (another Ensure product) that might be even better for you than Ensure Plus. The ProSure says it "Helps Build Muscle & Promotes Weight Gain, Has a Unique Blend of an Omega-3 Fatty Acid (eicosapentaenoic acid 1g/8 fl oz)& Protein (17g/8 fl oz) etc. I took this stuff while I was in my treatment program. It helped me regain some of my weight after each Chemo treatment. It is 300 calories per 8 fl oz can. I went through about 200 cans of this stuff at about 4 cans a day. It comes in flavor's and the banana was the best. This stuff is made for people on Radiation and Chemo treatment.

I have been on a liquid diet for 10 months almost a 100% if anyone has any questions about how my body has adjusted to it.

Edited by bfornshell on 02/17/2006 16:23:49 MST.

more on nutri on 02/17/2006 16:28:54 MST Print View

paul. yes, higher intensities are correlated with less fat burned and more glycogen/carbohydrage usage.
However, the "percentage" used will be based on individual fitness.

You can be sure that athletes like Lance Armstrong will burn more fat and less glycogen than the average person pedaling at 20mph on the bike. So his percentage will probably be higher than the average because he has trained his low bpm fat burning aerobic engine. This is the primary engine used in long-term events, power output is still important in overall performance, but "slow and steady, wins the race." And with all endurance sports the "key" workout that you always try to get is the long workout aka 1 to 3-5 hours, generally speaking. This raises your overall aerobic capacity, mitochondrial stores (energy stores on the cellular level), and gives increased capillarization (better delivery/disposal in the body).

All of these adaptations lead to more efficient exchange of oxygen and energy in the body. In general, to burn fat, keep the pace "easy" and go for a long time. Some other time in the week, do a shorter workout consisting of hills or intervals--thereby raising your ability to tolerate working out at or near your LT-lactate threshold. But for long distance sports, pushing at that level is counter productive and will cause you to crash and burn...

once again long but--this is getting me hyped for ironman..and the trail

Stephen Eggleston
(happycamper) - F

Locale: South Bayish
Re: recipe request on 02/17/2006 17:13:52 MST Print View

(sorry to go a bit off topic here folks)


Basically cookies, granola bars and goo balls are homemade energy bars. I have read one historical account of roman soldiers in which their daily marching rations were described as two balls made of honey, sesame and an unspecified herb.(poor guys!)

The point is to make compact and nutrient dense food with the desired amounts of carbs, protein and fat that tastes super yummy. I'm not a recipe person(I tend to improvise), but you can take any cookie recipe and adapt it. Substitute whole grain flours for white flour or even add some Nutribiotic rice protein powder to the flour. By using a mixture of whole grain flours you can increase the protein content of the cookies. Also sub whole sugars like sucanat for white sugar. Sub butter or unrefined oils for low quality oils like wesson corn oil. Add nuts, oats, dried fruits, chocolate, expresso beans etc.

Another option is to make a raw version. Mash some dates or other dried fruits and mix with crushed or soaked nuts, almond butter, peanut butter or tahini. Add some honey. You can also add chocolate chips, quick oats or other goodies. Get the right consistency, make little bars or balls and then roll them in some quick oats or oat flour.

Edited by happycamper on 02/17/2006 17:14:49 MST.

Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Food on 02/17/2006 17:28:34 MST Print View

I have found the correlation between cycling and backpacking close in many areas............

It has been in my experience that hiking along on reasonably flat terrain fairly difficult to raise the heartrate outside of the aerobic zone (around 65% max) except for elevation considerations....

For a couple of years I tried a "healthy" diet for competition but I would end up bonking after a couple hours because I never built up my anaerobic threshold where I could save glycogen until later. When I switched to a higher fat diet and adjusted my workout downward to a lower heartrate my threshold rose. I also discovered that a few other riders suffered from the same dilemma. We could not ingest enough carbs each day with feeling like we were forcing ourselves. Others could.

I discovered that as the days got longer (not more intense) my percentage of fat in the diet increased. We trained our bodies to glycogen spare and utilize the fat.

As someone has already alluded to it is "get the fires going with the carbs and feed fat to the hot fire". We would eat cereals and outmeal at breakfast before a heavier meal after a couple hours.

The problem that I look at with 40 mile days for 20 days is weight.
Body fat is 3500 calories/pound
Dietary fat is 4000 calories a pound
Carbs and proteins are 1800 calories a pound

Some of the research says that for very highly trained individuals you can lose up to 2 1/2 pounds a weeks without muscle loss....say 9000 calories.

4000 calories a day = over 2 pounds of carbs or around 45 pounds for a trip or
1 pound of fat/day = 20 pounds fat for the trip

I remember reading about pemmican........

I think also a question that needs to be asked is "In what shape do you want to finish the hike?"

Maybe at this point some graph paper would be handy!

Maximum intended body fat loss along with various ratios of fat/carb (since protein seems to be a fairly constant) against a maximum food load..........

I like this project!!! Randy

PS You can satisfy all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you still can't fool mother nature.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Diet for Ryan's ultra long distance hike on 02/17/2006 18:07:03 MST Print View

This is one real interesting and informative thread. A fat loaded diet, if one can tolerate it, seems to me to be best suited to this type of hike. I am assuming a high level of cardio-vascular fitness, which means low bpm which means high ratio of fat metabolized. The obvious advantage of a fat diet is lower weight which means longer distance travelled per calorie. A potential problem is that fat takes longer to become available for energy production and, in the process(correct me if I'm wrong here) diverts blood from the working(legs primarily) muscles to the muscles of the stomach/small intestine. So, it seems to me the timing of fat intake is important. My own personal preference has been to emphasize carbs(not to the exclusion of fat/protein) from breakfast until dinner and then load up on nuts, chocolate, etc at dinner and let the stomach do its thing while the legs are resting and replenishing their glycogen stores. Most of my experience with this has been at relatively high elevations(10,000 on up to ~20,000), so I'm not sure how this relates to Ryan's expedition. I also bulk up ~6 pounds(on a 137# frame) in the 2-3 weeks preceding a relatively long hike of ~2 weeks and come out the other end weighing about 132. Accelerade and Endurox are also part of my routine for the first couple of days. Thereafter the fat heavy routine kicks in and the miles just seem to go by. One other thing that occurs to me: for a quick energy boost have you considered pure powdered glucose, Ryan? Especially for that "bonky" feeling when the brain is starting to *BEEP* about not getting it's share. Just some thoughts, obviously nothing scientific. Hope it helps a little.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: more on nutri on 02/17/2006 20:10:20 MST Print View

I understand the intracellular changes in numbers of organelles and available enzymes. This is for both metabolic pathways.

Your reiteration, still doesn't quite agree with what I had learned back in the 70's.
I'm very interested in understanding what newer research has changed this theory.

Keeping it basic for all to follow, here's the way it went back then:

Fats and carbs are burned in varying proportions in the cells via aerobic and anaerobic pathways. As work output went up, energy needed to be burned at a higher rate. There is only so much oxygen available, so after some point, the extra energy had to come from carbs. Before that point was reached, both fats and carbs contributed to the energy requirements of the muscles. The overall energy requirements increased for both fats and carbs, but the percentage of each burned relative to the other changed with carbs becoming a progressively greater proportion.

The amount of fat utilized increased with the HR (up to a certain point) based upon available O2, but it's percentage relative to carbs decreased. In fact, what I had learned years ago was the "myth" of the so-called "fat burning" zone.

Higher work levels actually burned more fat (en toto) subject to oxygen availability, but at a lower percentage relative to the carbs. To further clarify, what I had been taught, your Lance example would be because of two factors, the reasons you stated, a trained athelete vs. an untrained individual (diffs in blood cells density and hemoglobin, and the intracellular "engines" = greater capability and efficiency in processing both energy sources), but also because for the same effort his heart rate will be lower, since Lance is more efficient. The lower heart rate and greater VO2-max allowed greater utilization of fats.

To answer my question, we should really be comparing one person against himself, not against another person. The point being if a person exercises at 65% MHR, he burns x amount of fat and y amount of carbs over a given period of fixed intensity work. Now, without any appreciable further training effect, for example a workout two days later, exercising at 85% MHR, x+m fat is burned (more fat en toto), but y+n carbs are burned, where n >> m (n is much greater than m, which increases slightly). Therefore, while fat "burned" en toto increases slightly for the same period of time of exercise at a higher intensity, the percentage of total energy utilized coming from fat has dropped since much more carbs are being utilized. This was called the myth of the "fat burning" zone at that time. The theory that I had learned was that you would always, up to a certain point, burn more fat en toto as work output went up, but that the fat would be a steadily decreasing percentage of the overall energy output.

Again, can you describe the research that was performed that changed the paradigm that I had learned.

Edited by pj on 02/18/2006 02:01:53 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Food on 02/17/2006 20:23:17 MST Print View


Many years ago, the thought was to use interval training as a means of achieving the effect you describe. Periodically, interval training would be inserted after some period of time of regular training. Research, at the time, indicated that it was even more effective than consistent training at very high HR to increase the anaerobic threshold. I'm sure that you understand the rational for doing so - the thought being that the body over-compensates due to the "surprise", so to speak, of the varying workload associated with interval training. The body can't anticipate certain requirements and so, overcompensates. The theory behind this interval practice was similar to another practice that crept into vogue at that time, viz. carbo-loading. This effect is, in one sense, similar to what happens as the body reacts to fasting, by "holding onto" more fat, and catabolizing more muscle protein in a survival effect. The human body seems to behave/overreact in this way on a number of fronts.

If I understand you correctly, which I may not, it sounds like you're saying that more recent research has proven the interval training approach to be either unsound, invalid, serving a different purpose, or less effective than the method you describe. Would you mind educating me on this pont please?

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Old Exercise Phys. Numbers/Info on 02/18/2006 02:18:52 MST Print View

On a somewhat related note which might be of interest to some (if not, don't bother to read):

Here are some Muscle/Exercise Phys. "numbers" and info. I'd appreciate feedback from those with more up to date info on whether this info is still considered valid based upon more up to date research.

Depending upon the level of physical exertion and your body's related heart rate, your muscles will burn "fuels" in different ratios - subject to the availability of oxygen being transported into muscle cells. More specifically the hiker is engaged in a long duration moderate intensity form of exercise. So, a "ballpark"/approximate breakdown of the "fuels" utilized is normally as follows:

25% each from:
-- fat stored as triglycerides within the muscle
-- carbohydrate stored as the starch glycogen within the muscle
-- glucose released into the bloodstream from the liver.
-- fat coming from diet or released from storage in adipose tissue

if at all possible, our bodies don't like to exclusively use just energy sources stored in the muscles, thereby depleting/exhausting them completely, just in case some sort of "surpreme" exertion is attempted/required. our bodies don't want to let us down if at all possible.

I think that these percents are a bit off in this simplified example, and that often more fat is burned due to the lower levels of exertion by the hiker on level terrain. Do those with more up to date info disagree? Is any of this still valid? I think it's a simplification, in terms of the percentages given, of what actually happens.

as exercise intensity increases beyond a certain level, approx. the same amount (in an absolute sense) of fat is "burned" (absolute amount depends upon "cardio" conditioning which is related to the amount of oxygen available in the red corpuscles in the blood and intracellular training benefits to utilize oxygen, fats, and carbs in the little cellular "engines"), and any increased energy demand is met by burning more carbohydrate, so the ratio of carbohydrate to fat increases.

a typical value one often reads, for a well conditioned long distance hiker, for depletion of stored glycogen reserves, is approx. 6hrs. i've never been able to determine a continuous heart rate associated with this 6hr figure. my guess might be ~60% of the so-called age-adjusted-maximal-heart-rate, but this is just a guess. frequent "snacking" while hiking is a good strategy for preventing depletion and replenishing these energy stores.

the talk is mainly about carbs and fats as proteins are not burned as fuel, per se. they undergo a catabolic pathway beginning with deamination, IIRC, and are converted to simpler carbon compounds via different pathways to produce glucose or ATP - my memory is not real clear on this, however. as far as storage of amino acids/protein i don't recall this occurring. i do remember that when an amino acid deficiency does occur, the body in order to utilize the other amino acids to allow protein synthesis to continue will catabolize labile body proteins, including plasma albumin, and muscle tissue in order to permit protein synthesis to continue. to the best of my recollection, amino acids are not stored. any unused protein/amino acids are deaminated and then oxidized via both gluocse or fat metabolic pathways and stored as glycogen or fat, respectively. the excess nitrogenous waste produced by these pathways is excreted in the urine as either ammonia or urea. once stored as glycogen or fat, they are later used as fuel/energy, not building blocks for protein. when protein intake is inadequate or specific essential amino acids lacking (those that cannot be metabolized by the human body from other sources, but must be ingested) the body will then have to catabolize ("break down") certain other protein sources already present in the human body to supply the missing amino acids. depending upon the degree to which this needs to be done, there can be serious side effects from this. an increase in urinary nitrogen can be caused by insufficient protein intake and is looked for as an indication of this condition. (at least that's how i recall it, but it's been quite a while, so please verify this).

Also, I'm feeling like perhaps, due to all involved maintaining some semblence of brevity in their posts on a complex subject (this one being an exception), that, at times, different points are being emphasized and the precise topic is not covered in each post (e.g. the example of Lance, and my response - maybe we weren't on the exact wavelength, hence some minor discrepancies).

This sure is a very interesting subject though - to me at least. Sorry, I can't contribute better info, it's been 30-35yrs since I've had to think about this stuff. Hope our Phys. Prof. can shed better light and correct any errors I may have introduced. I think at this point, other than asking questions, I'm all "Posted-out".

Edited by pj on 02/18/2006 07:46:15 MST.

more nutri on 02/18/2006 06:31:19 MST Print View

paul check out this furthered link posted by someone else. Half way down are "general" economies for CHO/fat consumption for various Heartrates.

Approximate Sources of Energy While Riding
% of VO2 max CHO/Fat
20-50% about 50/50
60% about 60/40
70% about 70/30
80% about 80/20
90% 90-100% CHO.

Yes we skipped over the ATP/CP cycles, glycemic indexes of sugars, but there are whole sites dedicated to this. And ultimately, tolerance to different foods during physical activity is a very individual thing.

As a triathlete, I know that my intake for long events (6-12 hours) is about 200 cals an hour usually in the form of liquids and the occassional gel. I also will consume a clif bar or banana to slow gastric emptying. Simliarly, I shoot for about 40-48oz of liquid per hour usually in the form of a carbo bev.

If it's going to be hotter, I have to train my body to process more through the heat acclimitization and copious amounts of water w/ sea salt.

Not that anyone cares about what I'm taking down in a race but i wanted to give an example. For most people, 100-400 cals an hour is common--just have to find what works without making you sick. This way you never fully tap your glycogen stores and can feel recovered the following day.

If you wait to replenish and do not find out your tolerances per hour and how much liquid you require in various climates, you will eventually bonk especially if it's a multi-day event.

Just a tip to RJ about endurox and accelerade--great products! but I think you'll find that they are too sweet on the palate for multi-day use. Perpet is a nice one, but gives me gas.

Honestly, a nice flask with your favorite gel or HONEY is great for calories on the go. Just don't rot your teeth and drink plenty of water.

thanks for the forum

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: more nutri on 02/18/2006 07:15:53 MST Print View

Thanks alot for the post. Good info. Really appreciate you taking the time to post.

I still carry a little squeeze "Honey Bee" plastic container. Thought maybe it was out of vogue or frowned upon by "modern" research. Glad to hear I'm still doing something right. I find that, depending upon how much honey I've "squeezed down" at one time, my body naturally wants ~250ml, more or less, of water as a "chaser".

Edited by pj on 02/18/2006 07:43:01 MST.

Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Intervals on 02/18/2006 11:00:47 MST Print View

Intervals are a great method for training for the sport you are in. Great for cycling because of the change of speeds but not so great for the triathletes because the goal is to step up to the anaerobic threshold line but not step over.

Lance and his team of trainers altered the landscape of training by pushing the concept of anaerobic threshold up against the VO2 max. But then again mr. Armstrong is a genetic freak (his ability to handle lactic acid). The other situation is that Lance raced so little that he did not have to keep recovering from race after race of anaerobic efforts.
The key to this whole mess was (is) the introduction of the power meter. Instead of just measuring your effort against a tachometer (HR) you now can see what is needed to compete (Watts). With the powermeters you can step right up the edge but not fall over the lip.

For long distance hiking (along with Race across America) the concept is to stay just below that point where you deplete your high octane fuel (glycogen).

Backpacking for me was a no-trainer. Because I cycled (and lifted weights) all I needed to do was to mix in some very fast hiking in hills to get the joints used to the stress on the knees, calves and ankles. I had even been lucky enough to have walked off the trail one day and entered a bicycle race the next with no adverse effects.

For me I love cycling and I love backpacking but I look at hiking like I do weightlifting, something that I need to do to ensure my pleasure at what I like to do.