6 Ways to Set a New Grouse Grind Personal Best
Hiker Grouse Grind

6 Tips Know to Crush the Grouse Grind

Do you climb the Grouse Grind, while always hoping to get faster? Many people climb this local Vancouver landmark, eager to crush their current Grouse Grind personal best. It was a personal challenge of mine several years ago.   

If you keep trying but are stuck at the same speed there are often two main reasons. First, your body and your mind are no longer challenged. Second, you are fatigued. To power through this plateau we have these six tips to help you break through your plateau.

6 Tips to Breakthrough to a New Grouse Grind Personal Best

1. Change Your Training Routine

Many seem to climb the Grind multiple times per week and wonder why they have plateaued. It's because your body is used to the challenge. Do the Grind once or twice per week. Try cross-training on the other five or six days a week.  Some suggestions include strength training two days per week, heading to 400-meter track to do some speed work, incorporating some agility and quickness drills or substituting swimming or spinning one or two times per week.

2. Train Your Anaerobic Threshold

For anyone trying to push their limits on the Grouse Grind, it is primarily an aerobic-anaerobic activity.  Our Lactate Threshold  (LT) is a balance point where we are able to balance the production of lactic acid with  the conversion of lactate to energy, ATP. This is often the maximum heart rate that can be sustained for 30-60 minutes. 

To train the LT,  try 1-5 minute intervals at a higher pace, then recover at a lower heart rate for the same period of time. Repeat 3-5 times during the Grind.

3. Recover Efficiently

Recovery between exercise bouts is where the body adapts. Give yourself sufficient time and nutrients between Grinds to recover. This an endurance event which uses carbohydrates as the primary fuel source. It takes 48 to 72 hours and the proper pre and post nutrition planning.

Rest for at least two days between Grinds or maybe even a week of alternate activities that are less intense.  Have a massage, go for a easy recovery swim or cycle, have an Epsom salt bath, use the infrared sauna or take a few Yoga classes.

Keep track of your resting heart rate by measuring your heart in the morning after lying quietly for at least 5 minutes. If you notice it going up by 3-5 beats then you know you are not recovering efficiently.

4. Don't Start Cold, Warm-Up

Too many hikers start-out on this gruelling hike without an adequate warm-up.  They go directly from their cars to climbing.  One option is to start with a brisk walk in the parking lot that builds into a light jog for at least 5-10 minutes.  Then try some dynamic stretches for lower and upper-body. Dynamic stretches get the blood flowing and prime the nervous system for climbing.   You are warmed-up when you heart rate is elevated, you feel warm and perhaps, you are sweating a little. 

5. Change Your Approach Strategy

Stop doing the Grind the same way and expecting different results. Use the terrain and other hikers to do fartlek intervals.  Runners and cross-country skiers use the terrain to create natural intervals.  

An example is to speed up on the flatter, less steep sections.  Another option is to use quick short footsteps, landing and pushing off on the balls of your feet.  When it is safe to do so, use speed up to pass people.  Use the landmarks to vary your cadence (tree to tree, sprint to the 1/4 sign, etc.).  The final strategy is to prolong your warm-up by gradually increasing your pace as you progress up the mountain.

6. Try a Different Day or Time

Instead of Saturday, go on Sunday or instead of 10:00 AM go at 9:30 AM. These small interruptions in routine may be enough to enliven your climb and make life a little more interesting. Going early or late in the day when it is coolest will help keep you cool.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • It's important to note that not every time is going to be a Grouse Grind personal best.
  • Changes in cardiovascular fitness happen over six to twelve weeks.
  • A 5-10% improvement is excellent. Increaseing fitness at this pace will minimize over-training and the risk of injury. 

Read about Alfred's training journey to achieve his fastest Grouse Grind of 37 min.

Bonus: Hike the Line of Best Fit

Do you remember high school science class when you learned to graph? Plotting the date and then drawing a straight line? That line was the line of best fit. Apply this to the Grind by taking approaching that achieves the best straight line that you can. 

Let us know if these tips helped you break your plateau. Please leave your comments and any questions below about training that you want answered in future articles.

Last Updated on June 15, 2024 by Alfred Ball

Alfred Ball

Practicing Kinesiologist | Certified Fascia Stretch Therapist | Clinical Pilates Instructor. Alfred has been a Kinesiologist since 1999. He started Lifemoves in 2007 to provide exercise therapy and fitness programs for people with injuries, chronic diseases and disabilities. His focus as a Kinesiologist is to empower and to guide people to learn to move with more strength, confidence and ease. He is an avid Lego and Star Wars fan. His other hobbires include writing, playing board games and being active outdoors.

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