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    Run Journal

    Our Coach Panel: The Number One Method to Become a More Efficient Power Hiker

    Our Coach Panel: The Number One Method to Become a More Efficient Power Hiker

    There are a lot of unknowns in running. Everyone's body is different and when you get out there on race day and see some clear areas to improve upon it is hard to get the right answer.

    We have heard several questions asked more than any others when it comes to running and racing so we have a series of articles addressing them by our favorite knowledageble running coaches.

    The first topic is how to become better at climbing hills and power hiking. Hills are definitely a challenge for those just getting into trail running as well as the experienced ultra runners. We put it to our trusted coaches to get their expert advice on power hiking and hill work.

    Yassine Diboun, Danielle Snyder and Andrew Miller lay out their answers below.

    What is your number one method to become a more efficient power hiker?

    Danielle Snyder:

    Power hiking is an essential skill for runners and often misunderstood as a weakness. It is a great tool and often underutilized as a way to manage energy. Here are some of my tips in order to best utilize this skill.

    Start sooner! If you think you will need to power hike at all during the race, start early. When you choose to hike rather than being forced to hike, you feel more in control and can manage the longevity of your energy stores. Hiking is a great tool to use after eating as it also help with digestive issues.

    Hike with purpose. This is not a leisure walk in the park: this is an intentionally fully body movement that can often match other’s running speed uphill when done right.

    Especially up hills, set small manageable goals— pick a visual spot and hike to it. Hit your goal spot and choose another spot. For example, you hike intentionally powerful to a big rock, get there, ‘celebrate’ and then find another visual cue and make your way forward.

    Poles are a wonderful way to help correct form and make sure you are not hunching over. When we start to hunch, we stop being able to breathe as deeply and ‘waste’ energy not taking deep breaths.

    Yassine Diboun:

    There are many ways to become a more efficient power hiker and they all involve consistency. If I had to choose the number one method it would be hiking w/ poles and weight on your back. For my build-up to Hardrock 100 I hiked while wearing a 25-lb weight-vest at Evolution Healthcare and Fitness altitude room in Portland, OR. This allowed me to use a "stair mill" and simultaneously acclimate to higher altitude. Even on days that I didn't have access to Evolution I would put extra weight on me, such as a weight vest or hydration pack loaded w/ ankle weights and other gear.

    I like to use stairs as much as possible because there is less torque on the lower legs and achilles tendons. Sometimes I will hike up trails too, and using my Leki poles help me have a couple more points of contact to thrust me up the mountain. I do a lot of cross training in the form of bodyweight exercises and weight lifting to strengthen my quads, hip flexors, calves, anterior tibialis, and hamstrings which are the primary muscles used in power hiking.

    As I said in the first sentence, consistency and specificity is the name of the game; anything you do a lot of you will become more efficient at! In the past I would try to run all the hills, and then I would find that in my ultras I would be doing so much hiking.

    For this past training block for Hardrock I intentionally focused on refining my power hiking and, even though I could run some of the hills, I chose to hike with intention to develop that gait and the necessary muscles needed to efficiently cover some ground.

    Andrew Miller: 

    To become a more efficient power-hiker, the most important step you can take is to practice consistently.  This may sound very basic, but most runners never hike during training unless the hill is so steep they can’t run.

    In trail races, especially ultras, runners often hike upwards of ¼ of the event.  If you haven’t practiced hiking in training, then you haven’t trained for ¼ of the event. That’s pretty significant! To improve your hiking efficiency, practice at least one time per week. If you have a sustained uphill where you can hike for 30-60 minutes, this is a great option! 

    If you do not have a sustained uphill, hiking hill repeats works well too.  When selecting your hill, pick a hill that is a similar grade to the average grade you will be hiking on race day.  It’s tempting to pick the steepest hill possible, but you will get more out of your hiking practice if you match your training to race day. After 4-6 weeks, you will see significant improvement in your hiking speed.

    Coach Profiles

    Danielle Snyder is an avid ultrarunner who is constantly reminded of the importance of mental training in addition to physical training. She has run countless 100-mile races, set the FKT on the Oregon section of the PCT, and holds the FKT on the Rogue River Trail.

    Danielle has worked with countless professional athletes and Olympians and specializes in helping athletes avoid the pitfalls of negative self-talk, so that they can achieve more balance in all parts of their lives. Using multiple different techniques, Danielle guides her clients along their paths to physical and mental well-being, helping athletes reach their potential. Danielle is a Certified Running Coach and a licensed clinical social worker with extensive additional training. Learn more at Inner Drive Wellness

    Yassine Diboun is a co-owner of Wy'east Wolfpack where he remains highly active coaching athletes of all abilities, including kids, office workers, folks in or seeking recovery from substance addiction. He still likes to get after it on the ultramarathon racing circuit and has enjoyed a long sustainable career. You can learn more about him and the wolfpack at: Wy'east Wolfpack and follow @WyeastWolfpack and @YassineDiboun on Instagram

    Career Highlights: *4-time Western States 100 finisher (once in the top 10) *3-time HURT 100 finisher (once in the top 3) *Top 100 finisher of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) *Top 25 finisher at Hardrock 100 *Top 5 finishes at Bighorn 100, Cascade Crest 100, Pinhoti 100, & San Diego 100

    Andrew Miller lives in Oregon where enjoys running and volunteering on the local trails. Andrew has won 16 ultramarathons, including the 2016 Western States 100, and works as a running coach at Andrew Miller Coaching. *Represented Team USA at the IAU World Trail Running Championships in Annecy, France (silver medal)

    Race Day Checklist

    Race Day Checklist

    Preparing for a race can be a stressful process of packing and repacking trying to make sure you have every last thing you might need for race day. The trick to a proper race day kit is to have “just enough”. It’s a delicate balance between streamlined efficiency and comprehensive ‘just-in-case’ items.  

    In the end, it’s up to you to determine your level of comfort with minimalism. Your strategy will, and should, change depending on distance, terrain, weather, aid stations, drop bag availability, and personal experience. 

    I recall in my early days of racing having the brilliant idea of carrying everything I could need in my pack so I could just blow through the aid stations. Well, one 4L water bladder later and it occurred to me that perhaps carrying 8 pounds of water with me is not the greatest race strategy.

    To help take the stress out of your race prep, we’ve created a modular race day checklist to help you make sure you’ve covered your bases.

    Essential Gear

    • Trail shoes; choose a comfortable pair with good traction for the race terrain
    • Moisture Wicking Socks
    • Performance Apparel; lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing suitable for the weather
    • Pack, vest or belt; this will depend on personal preference, distance, and how much you plan to pack
    • Water Bottles; these can be bottles that fit in your running vest/belt or handheld bottles. Again, this will partially depend on personal preference and whether or not you are using poles.
    • Headwrap; this is my secret utility weapon. It can be used to wrap around your ears or nose in cold weather. It can be wrapped around your wrist to be used as a sweatband in warm weather.  It can be dipped in water to cool you down in the heat. It can be wrapped around a water bottle to convert it into a handheld bottle. I’ve even used it to stop the bleeding after taking a tumble on the trail. It’s an essential part of my race kit.
    • Hat; choose a hat appropriate for the weather.
    • GPS Watch; While some prefer to not wear a watch, this is perhaps the one piece of gear I’m most likely to forget in my packing frenzy.


    • Gels, bars or other food; depending on the race distance and intensity, you should be aiming to consume 150 to 250 calories per hour. This can be consumed in gels, bars, candy, real food or liquid nutrition. Make sure to research what the aid stations will have on race day and practice with it before the race or make other plans to pack your own nutrition.
    • Electrolyte Supplements; Many people like to pack an electrolyte drink mix that they can add to their water. Most races will also provide an electrolyte drink at aid stations. Again, be sure to research what will be available prior to race day.

    Cold Weather Gear

    • Windbreaker; Choose a lightweight windbreaker jacket that can easily be packed away. It’s not uncommon for temperatures to vary drastically at trail races. If it’s really cold and nasty, consider bringing a GoreTex jacket.
    • Gloves; I’ve seen many trail runners unable to open a gel or take the top off their water bottle due to cold hands. Keeping them warm can keep you running smoothly on race day.
    • Extra Clothing; if it’s wet and cold, you may want to consider packing extra gear. If the race allows drop bags, I will often pack a fresh shirt, gloves, buff and socks. 
    • Arm Sleeves; I’ve found arm sleeves to be a great way to handle a race with a cold start. I hate being too warm when I’m running, and starting with arm sleeves allows me to avoid being too cold for the first few miles of the race. They usually pack up small enough that they’re easy to stash away as the temperature rises.

    Warm Weather Gear

    • Sunscreen; depending on the length of the race, applying sunscreen at the start may not be enough. Consider packing sunscreen in your drop bag or a small bottle in your pack. Keep in mind that many trail races are at higher elevations that put you at increased exposure to UV.
    • Sun hat; The right hat can help keep you cool while keeping the sun out of your eyes. If it’s really warm, I like to dip my hat in creeks or fill it with lingering snow to cool off.
    • Sunglasses

    Other Gear

    • Headlamp or flashlight; this may be necessary for an early start or a race that could extend into the night. At the very least, I usually bring a headlamp for race check-in. Don’t forget the extra batteries!
    • GPS Track; having the race course on your phone or GPS watch (ideally both) can be a life saver. It’s not uncommon for course markings to be confusing or vandalized. Having the route with you can give you an extra layer of confidence that you’re on the right track. 
    • Trekking Poles; if the course has a lot of elevation gain and loss, you may want to consider bringing poles. Keep in mind that you will want to practice with poles prior to race day and that they may not be for everyone. 
    • Chafe balm; a small container of chafe balm could save your race.  This is an item that you only need when you need it. Keeping it in a drop bag usually doesn’t work because chaffing can happen suddenly and progress rapidly. Predicting when and where you will need chafe balm is nearly impossible.



    So now that we’ve gone over some of the common gear you might want for race day, I thought I would share my most common race day kit.  

    Trail shoes: I prefer the Arc’teryx Norvan LD3 for their traction and protection.  
    Socks: I like a lightweight crew length sock that drains well. I usually use Swiftwick Aspire 4

    Shorts: The Territory Long Haul Shorts are a great streamlined short. They’re lightweight and offer a little extra storage.

    Shirt: The Territory Long Haul Tee is my preferred performance shirt that prevents me from overheating during the race.

    Hat: I almost exclusively wear the Territory Long Haul Cap.  I love the fit, look and breathability. On hotter alpine races I will wear the Territory Bucket Hat to help protect against the sun even more.

    Running Belt: I prefer to travel light on race day and stick with the Territory Long Haul Belt.  It has 3 large pockets that can fit a water bottle, nutrition, phone and keys with room left over for a few other necessary items. If I’ll be running through the night or the weather is particularly rough, I will bring a vest. Lately I’ve been wearing the Arc’teryx Norval 7L vest. 

    Handheld: I absolutely love the HydraPak 500ml Skyflask. I will usually bring two depending on the distance between aid stations and the weather.  In some instances I’ve brought just one. They are handheld and have a locking cap on them. The locking cap means I can easily stash a full bottle in my Territory Long Haul Belt. 

    Nutrition:  I tend to try to eat two Spring Energy gels per hour. My favorites are Awesome Sauce and Canaberry. Depending on the aid station offerings I might try to pack extra gels. This is where the storage pockets on the Long Haul Shorts come in handy. For electrolytes I will usually just take whatever the aid station has on hand. If it’s really warm I will also bring a pack of SaltStick FastChews. These are an easy indicator if I need salt. If I take one and it tastes too salty, I’m doing well. If I take one and it tastes like a Sweettart, I know that I probably need more salt and will take another FastChew. 

    Watch: I use a Coros Apex Pro with the race course loaded on it. It’s nice to see where I am in the elevation profile and to see how much further I have until the next aid station. I also have it set to beep every 30 minutes to remind me to eat. 

    Headwrap: I always bring a Territory headwrap as it serves a multitude of purposes.

    Headlamp: I swear by the Petzl Bindi if I know I only need a few hours of light.  This is great for race check-in or a pre-dawn race start. It’s not the brightest light or the longest lasting, but it’s extremely minimal and stows away nicely when you no longer need it.

    Adventure Checklist

    Adventure Checklist

    Properly packing for a self-supported adventure is significantly more consequential than packing for a race.  During a race we can rely on aid stations and volunteers to get us through the effort, but on your own adventure it is crucial that you are prepared for the worst and have thoroughly researched the route. This is not the time to pack light or forgo gear. Weather and conditions can rapidly change and you need contingency plans.

    Packing for your adventure should start first with thorough research of your route. What is the weather like? Have you checked with the local land manager regarding current conditions? Where and how frequent are water sources on the route? Where can you bail if you are unable to complete the route?

    One tool I utilize for planning an adventure route is Strava. If you look up segments on the route you can sort by the people who have completed it this year. People will often post photos on their activity of what the trail conditions look like.  You can also extrapolate the conditions based upon how long it took them to complete sections of the route. This could inform you of impassable sections of the route as well as help you realistically plan how long the route will take to complete.

    You should always inform someone of your route beforehand and give them a time you expect to finish. This information can be invaluable should something go wrong on your adventure.

    Essential Gear

    • Trail shoes; choose a comfortable pair with good traction for the terrain

    • Moisture Wicking Socks

    • Performance Apparel; lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing suitable for the weather

    • Pack or vest; this will depend on personal preference, distance, and how much you plan to pack

    • Water Bottles or Bladder

    • Water filter or purification tablets; I prefer to use the Hydrapak Filter Cap.  This cap goes onto an existing bottle and allows you to fill the bottle and drink straight from the cap. It’s lightweight, simple and effective.

    • Headwrap; this is my secret utility weapon. It can be used to wrap around your ears or nose in cold weather. It can be wrapped around your wrist to be used as a sweatband in warm weather. It can be dipped in water to cool you down in the heat. It can be wrapped around a water bottle to convert it into a handheld bottle. I’ve even used it to stop the bleeding after taking a tumble on the trail.

    • Hat; choose a hat appropriate for the weather.  

    • Gloves; regardless of the weather, I will almost always pack at the very least a pair of lightweight gloves

    • Windbreaker; weather can change rapidly and it’s important to be prepared for all possibilities

    • Fully charged phone with .GPX of route loaded; With today’s technology, there really is no reason not to have an offline version of your route saved on your electronic devices. 

    • GPS Watch with route loaded; Safety is all about redundancy. Having the route in more than one form is crucial to avert catastrophe. Should your phone die or get lost or damaged, having a backup of the route could save you.  

    • Paper map and compass; this could be a third version of the route or the second depending on your watch’s capabilities. Make sure if you are using a paper map, that you know how to read it and navigate with a compass.

    • Sunglasses

    • Food; plan to have about 150-250 calories per hour. Always overpack food in case you are out much longer than anticipated.

    • Sunscreen

    • Trekking poles (optional); You may want poles depending on the terrain. These can also be used for difficult water crossings or if you twist an ankle and need to self-extricate.

    Emergency Gear

    • Two-way communication device; it’s very likely that you will not have cell reception on your route. Having an SOS device such as a Garmin InReach could save your life should something go wrong. A satellite tracking device could also suffice, but does not allow for two-way communication to let rescuers know what is wrong.

    • Insulating layer; having an extra layer is important if weather changes or you end up injured or stuck on your route longer than expected.

    • Emergency Bivy; while unlikely, it’s possible you may need to spend the night in the wilderness. An emergency bivy is lightweight and inexpensive. In a catastrophic scenario it can keep you warm while you await rescue. 

    • Headlamp; regardless of if I plan to be in the dark or not I will bring a headlamp. If I do not plan to be in the dark, I will pack the Petzl Bindi. It is extremely lightweight and has saved me when nightfall has come unexpectedly.  

    • Battery pack with phone cord/ headlamp cord; I always bring an Anker external battery pack with me. They come in various sizes and the smallest ones are extremely lightweight. This can help me charge my phone and also my rechargeable headlamp.

    • First Aid Kit; Always bring a lightweight, fully-stocked first aid kit. 

    The PDX Long Haul Cap

    Ten years ago, the Portland International Airport (PDX) announced that the beloved teal carpet installed in the ‘80s would be replaced. It was about the same that we saw the fascination with the carpet blow up on Instagram.  

    When you were at PDX you took a photo of your feet on the recognizable pattern unlike any other airport flooring- it is how you signaled you were home, headed out of town or visiting. It became an iconic piece of traveling to and from Portland. 

    It has been a long time since we have seen anything PDX carpet and frankly, we miss it. So in comes the carpet. 

    The PDX carpet design that is printed on our best selling Long Haul Cap is the pattern replaced in 2015 and we wish was still on the floors of our airport.  The Long Haul Cap is a five panel lightweight and breathable design made for the run. It is a slightly lower profile fit than our past models and fits like the Cosmic and Wildflowers Caps. 


    How to Train Smarter

    By Andrew Miller

    Are you actually improving or just training really hard? 

    Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to notice, but here's a few questions to help you determine if you are overdoing it. 

    • Do you underperform on race day? 
    • Do you get sick or injured frequently? 
    • Do you often feel unmotivated to run? 
    • Do you usually feel lethargic after you run? 

    If you answer “yes” to more than one of these, you are likely leaving a bit on the table when it comes to running performance. If this is you don’t worry, we are about to give you some tips to help you get a little bit more out of your running. Even if you answered “no” to all the questions above, we’ve got a few tips to help you train smarter! 

    The underlying theme in training smarter, not harder, is that you need to give the body specific stresses to adapt to, then give the body a chance to recover. From a practical standpoint, this means doing a couple hard runs per week and keeping the rest of your runs relatively easy. 

    Structure and consistency are where you will see the most improvement. Most runners have the most success building their training around one long run and one speed session per week. Add in a few easy runs and you will be looking really good! This might not be groundbreaking info, but consistent training with structure to guide you is how you will see the most improvement. You don’t need to train harder or do more. You just need consistency and a method to your madness. 

    Use your long run to mimic the race. Do your long run on terrain similar to the terrain you are going to race on. Use the same gear on your long runs that you will use on race day. Get your race day nutrition dialed in on your long run. 

    Practice hiking. Hiking is not as exciting as running, but if you are running a trail race, almost everyone will be hiking at some point! Ultramarathons or particularly hilly races will require a lot of hiking and having the skill to hike fast can save you a lot of time! 

    Practice downhill running. Downhill might be as hard as uphill, but if you are looking to run faster on race day, it doesn’t matter where you are gaining time. Downhill is a great spot to gain time without much extra effort. If you practice one fast downhill per week, that will go a long way! 

    Take it easy on your easy days. Make sure you have 3 or 4 days per week that are easy. These can be rest days or easy runs. Regardless, your body needs a chance to recover if you want to see continual improvement.


    Andrew Miller lives in Oregon where enjoys running and volunteering on the local trails.  Andrew has won 16 ultramarathons, including the 2016 Western States 100, and works as a running coach at andrewmillercoaching.com