On my first attempt at the Yorkshire Three Peaks I managed Pen y Ghent and Whernside but my feet were just too sore 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 just a few of my tips to help you prepare better than I did, and get around the full route. Because that feeling when you do complete the challenge is pretty good, believe me.
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 challenge. Add a tin of baked beans to your rucksack so that your shoulders and back are prepared for the weight of your food, drink and spare clothes on the day itself. 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.
Keep it fun
Mix it up with a bit of cycling and swimming if you can as this will reduce injury and variety will keep the training fun. Add in some squats and lunges to get those leg muscles used to the work that is ahead of them.
Think about your nutrition
You’re doing all of this extra exercise and preparation, why let that bacon butty and pint of beer be your downfall? 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. 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. And if you do lose a few pounds, that’ll be less impact on your joints on those downhill sections.
Don’t forget the boots!
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 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!
Share your progress
All of our Challenge events are listed on our Facebook page so why don’t you join the event over there? https://www.Facebook.com/RockRiverExpeditions/Events
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 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!