Training for walking and endurance challenges

Introduction

The level of training involved to complete an endurance challenge, such as the National Three Peaks Challenge or Welsh 3000's, is personal choice. It is assumed that most people attempting such Challenges would either currently have a reasonable level of fitness, or would be looking for a goal to help them improve their fitness.

Either way, at least some training should be done in order to minimize the possibility of injury, and reduce the recovery period. By building your fitness levels before taking part in an endurance challenge, you will also enjoy yourself more and relax.

For those relatively new to mountain walking, it's certainly worth organising a practice walk to assess if there are any specific weaknesses, which could commonly be:

  • aching calves when walking up hill
  • back ache possibly caused by a backpack
  • weak thighs when walking up hill

Any specific muscle issues that may show themselves can only really be dealt with by gradually increasing the level of physical activity, either by organising regular practice walks, or perhaps a quicker method, targeted and planned weight training. Do try not to train on aching muscles - at this point in the muscles development, they should be left to recover and repair. This process makes the muscles stronger and will allow you to push them harder and further than you could before.

Some other issues caused by equipment, such as toes being squashed into the front of your shoes when walking downhill, should also be thought about, so wear the gear that you plan to wear on the challenge itself. Provided all equipment is fitted correctly, there should be no rubbing or painful areas.

Practice walks

It should be remembered that practice walks should closely resemble the actual walking to be attempted, but in smaller distances.

Training for the National Three Peaks Challenge

Even the more experienced walkers would likely not have experienced something as draining as the National Three Peaks Challenge. It is therefore difficult to know how you will feel and how your body will cope. The first step here, is to get out on a mountain range or national park, and do some serious practice walks.

We highly recommend Snowdonia National Park if convenient, with its wide variety and choice of terrain, it provides the perfect training ground - do go prepared though, with the correct map (OS OL17 or OL18), and walk with a small pack containing equipment and supplies listed on the National Three Peaks equipment page.

As a good introduction to Snowdonia, why not walk one of the Snowdon paths. This will give you some idea of the scale of the challenge and endurance required to complete it - or if you'd really like to see how you'd perform, do three different Snowdon paths. Although the National Three Peaks has around twenty-five miles of walking, sleep deprivation is an important factor, so this should provide some insight into how well you can deal with these issues.

The National Three Peaks Challenge should be successfully completed by anyone who has taken the time to prepare their fitness, and gain some experience hill walking.

Training for the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is often assumed to be much shorter than the National Challenge, when in fact it is only marginally shorter. Completed in twelve hours, this should not be assumed to be a gentle walk and training should certainly be done beforehand. The National Challenge adds an element of sleep deprivation, increasing the difficulty somewhat.

In the same vein as our recommendations for training for the National Three Peaks, we would advise anyone planning to attempt this challenge to visit the Yorkshire Dales National Park and walk each of the hills individually. Getting to know the paths and landmarks will help greatly, while improving your general fitness.