The feeling of achievement when you complete the challenge is one you need to experience!
On my first attempt at the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge I managed Pen y Ghent and Whernside. But my feet were just too sore to continue and I was far too slow and tired. So although I’d had a good day up until then, I ended up getting the train back to Horton in Ribblesdale without completing the Ingleborough leg. Here are a few of my tips to help you prepare, and get around the full route with a smile on your face. And of course, experience that amazing feeling of achievement.
Don’t assume that because you can run a marathon you can climb three mountains
And don’t assume that because you can cycle a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire you can climb three mountains. You need to practice mountain walking in order to ready your body for climbing three mountains in 12 hours. So get out there and walk.
Walk to the supermarket instead of taking the car. Go for a walk in your lunch hour – okay so it might be boring pavements, but it’s better than nothing. And at the weekend find a national trail, park or public footpath and walk. Short walks at first, but gradually extend them. You want to get up to around 15 miles on hilly terrain in the last weeks before your Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.
On your challenge day you’ll need to carry your food, drink and spare clothes. Wearing a rucksack in training will help get you used to how it’ll feel on the day. Add a tin of baked beans to your rucksack when training to prepare your shoulders and back. Then each time you go out, add another one to gradually increase the weight.
Walk up hills
This might sound obvious, but find a hill. Even if it’s not too high, walk up it, walk down and repeat. Over and over. When I was preparing for a Swiss trek I couldn’t get out to the hills as often as I wanted so I used the stairs at home. Up and down with my weighted backpack for an hour or more at a time. It was dull and hard work but it strengthened my legs and built up my confidence for the trip.
The countryside is obviously the best terrain to train in as it replicates what you will experience on the day. Take a look at our Walking Routes and Hiking Routes blogs to see if there are any near you (we’re adding new routes so keep popping back).
Work on your legs
I’m not saying that you need to go out and get a gym membership and workout five times a week, don’t worry! There are little things that you can add into everyday life to help build muscle.
Try standing on one leg while you’re brushing your teeth – and switch legs the next day. This will challenge your balance (great for when you’re on uneven ground) and will make the muscles around your ankles work to stabilise you. When we’re used to walking on flat pavements and floors, the change to rough terrain can tire us quickly. This mini challenge will help more than you think!
When you’ve mastered the one legged tooth brushing try one legged squat tooth brushing. Yes, slowly lowering your body to the floor while on one leg (and continuing to brush) will work all of those stabilising muscles that I’ve already mentioned, but will also start to work your quads (the muscles at the front of your thighs). Great for hill walking.
You can also do squats while you’re in the kitchen. Those two minutes while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil? 45 squats. The three minutes waiting for the tea to brew or the meal to heat up in the microwave? 65 squats. You might only start with 10 squats at a time, but if you add an extra 5 each day you’ll soon get up to a good amount that will be really beneficial.
Remember your core
Try doing sit ups in the ad break of your favourite tv programme. Again, start with 10 and add another 5 each day. This will work your core. When you’re carrying a backpack and walking on uneven ground your core muscles are needed to keep you upright and balanced. If these muscles aren’t ready to work they will tire quickly. If however, you have strengthened them beforehand, they will spring into action and you’ll have more energy for the rest of your day…and you’ll enjoy it more.
Have a think of other times in your day when you have just a few minutes where you could incorporate a little bit of exercise. And super charge your Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge preparation.
Keep it fun
Mix it up with a bit of cycling, swimming, tennis whatever your sport of choice is if you can as this will reduce injury and variety will keep the training fun. Get a friend involved, even if they’re not taking on the full challenge. Invite them out for walks with you instead of going to the pub or coffee shop, go for a walk and have the kids cycle along with you. You’ll be giving the gift of fitness to them too!
Think about your nutrition
You’re doing all of this extra exercise and preparation, so why let that bacon butty and pint of beer be your downfall? Don’t worry I’m not suggesting you go all out and follow an Olympic athletes diet! But consider how much fruit and vegetables you have in your diet – the minerals and vitamins will help you stay healthy.
Focus on adding fruit and veg to your day
Do you have your full 5-a-day? A piece of fruit at breakfast, a glass of fruit juice, some salad with your lunch, a carrot and cucumber for the 3pm snack maybe with a bit of houmous, and a couple of veg with dinner will soon get you there.
This bagel with sliced turkey, sliced beef, rocket and spinach leaves, sliced tomato and a poached egg on top is incredibly filling, really tasty and full of goodness. Perfect to fuel your Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge training.
Do you have enough protein after a workout to help repair the muscles? A glass of milk with some peanut butter on a bagel often do the trick for me.
I’m not suggesting that you need to count every calorie – far from it. In fact, you need food to fuel your training properly. But if you do lose a few pounds, that’ll be less impact on your joints on those downhill sections.
Don’t forget the boots and socks!
If your walking boots are new, or they’re a little dusty from being packed away since last summer, get them on! Do as much of your walking training wearing the same footwear (boots and socks) you will wear on the day. That way you’ll work out ahead of time where potential blisters may occur, your feet can ‘harden up’ ready for the challenge and it will make for a much more pleasant experience – believe me!
We actually recommend that you have three pairs of socks – one for each peak. If it’s a rainy day or if the ground is boggy and you get wet feet it can be really demoralising. You wouldn’t believe how good it can feel to put a fresh pair of socks on at each checkpoint.
But they shouldn’t be just any old sports socks. If you can get proper hiking socks then do. They have additional cushioning in all of the right places and will come high up the ankle to prevent the boot rubbing on the back of your ankle.
Share your progress
All of our Challenge events are listed on our Facebook page so why don’t you join the event over there?
It’s a great way to break the ice and get to know the group you’ll be walking with. And sharing your training progress and ideas can be motivating for you and for others.
If you’re taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for charity, remember to update your supporters, letting them know how your training is going. Ask for their practical support in getting out on training walks with you – you can post about them on social media and you might just get more sponsorship money as as result.
If you can follow these tips for 8 weeks or more before your Challenge Day you will be giving yourself the best chance of being fit enough and ready to complete the full route.
Best of luck with your Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge!