Training for a challenge event
Many of us will start the New Year and be resolved to boost our fitness, and maybe sign up for a challenge day out in the hills. So assuming you’re not born with the energy of a springer on steroids, here are a few top tips on getting fit for that big day out.
Whatever form of exercise you choose to do, a big factor in your success will be your drive to keep at it. After all if your challenge event is six months away, that is a long time in which to get distracted, or think I’ll start training soon…
Find an activity where progress can be measured. Swimming, running or walking are great for this. Constant and noticeable progress gives a sense of achievement and motivates you to keep going. If you like gadgets, a Fitbit or even a heart rate monitor will track your improvements. A cheaper option is to simply time how long it takes to do a certain route! Get others to join you. It might be others who are on the challenge with you, or just friends who want to get fitter as well. Making a commitment together is harder to break on a wet Sunday.
Whatever you choose to do, choose to make your training interesting for you. So if you’re into running don’t just run around the local track or park – get out and explore new routes. If it’s walking you’re into try and include an objective into your walk. This could be a particular hill or summit, it might include a bit of scrambling, a scenic location, or a hidden pool to swim in. Don’t just do one thing, walk, run, swim, play team sport.
If you can make your activity interesting it will feel a lot less like training!
You won’t improve if you don’t push yourself. Hence plan training walks that include some element of challenge. That could be distance, ascent or time spent on the hill. As your training progresses try and increase the challenge levels, or reduce the time taken for a set route.
If getting out for big walks isn’t really viable try and increase your weekly mileage by going out more frequently for shorter walks. Find a local dog that needs exercising! Have a look at your target distance planned for the actual day and try to get to the level of achieving maybe two thirds of this by about a month before. If the event that you’re training for is a hilly 20 miler then you want to be managing a hilly 12 miles a month or so before.
If time permits, walking is perhaps the best form of exercise to train you for a challenge walk event. Unlike running it causes far less wear and tear on your joints. The big disadvantage for most people is if this is to be your main effort then you need to have the time to make it effective. For walking to be really beneficial it requires you to do it on uneven ground, and up and down hills so that you can work that range of muscles that help to strengthen your legs, back and core body muscles.
If you really keen, come up to the Lakes, and we’ll give you some amazing walks to do first!
Build up gradually, challenge yourself, but don’t go overboard. Planning a training route that is beyond your ability is de-motivating at best – and at worst, dangerous. Plan routes that will push you, but not leave you collapsed with exhaustion, in the middle of a moor as the light is fading and the rain is pouring. Keep an open mind to changing your plans according to the weather, and be sure to head out with the right kit and the right skills to keep you safe.