I am having trouble with is the variations of my running. A running or cardio routine is something that I have not ever been that good at coming up with. I usually like to hit the pool as part of my cardio, but seeing as how I am in the desert I cant do that. I was just wondering if you have any recommendations for what I can do to spice up the running portions of my workout. My routine currently looks like so, Mon- 3miles @ 45#pack, Tues 8 miles Thurs- same as Mon and Fri- same and tues. Thanks for help and advice.
Yes, variation is needed. Of both duration and intensity. I bet the hike and the run last about the same length of time and produce similar heart rates. If you keep doing the same thing - and because the effect on your body is similar those two workouts really are the same thing - over and over you adapt too it and stop progressing. Don't misinterpret that as saying "do a bunch of random, disconnected stuff to confuse your muscles" because you eventually adapt to that too.
Intervals will spice up the running portions of your workouts. Different interval lengths and recovery periods produce different results so you have to know what you want going in to it.
There is some basic information here:
And more big picture stuff here: