On deciding to take on The Three Peaks challenge, instead of getting straight down to one of many training programmes available from googling, I spent valued preparation time scouring the Internet for an answer to “How fit do you have to be?”, “Which mountain is the hardest?”, “Can I do it?”. In the aftermath of 3 Peaks completion I now know I should have instead used this time to walk up as many emergency exit staircases as possible; London’s version of mountains.
If a train is delayed, there’s some comfort in knowing how long the delay is, right? When we can put a number on the ‘nuisance’ it’s a little more palatable. I was keen to know what the value was of the 3 Peaks ‘nuisance’’? Amongst my friends joining me for the challenge we became almost obsessive too – repeating the same questions to each other as if saying it over and over would magically reveal an answer. Yet despite googling my digits thin, I wasn’t any clearer. We can measure the kilos lifted on a weights machine, the total miles ran last week – whether we met the 10k steps per day target – but of course, we can’t actually measure how hard the 3 Peaks will really be without just doing it. All you can do is get as fit as you personally can within your sphere of limitations like time and willpower. The rest is down to the elements, the mountains and to the traffic…
I considered my fitness before deciding to do The Three Peaks to be ‘average’. Here are 5 of the best things I did within (or within reach of) the enclosure of our concrete city to boost that fitness to ‘good’, in attempt at readiness for the climb.
1. Entered a ten mile run and trained for it
I knew I wanted to have good stamina and being a casual jogger around Tooting Bec Common I needed to firm up my commitment by entering a run a little outside my comfort zone. Following a ten mile training plan felt much more manageable than the unrealistic 3 Peaks plans out there. I used Bupa’s Intermediate Plan
2. 20 minute HIT work-outs at home from YouTube
When putting on gym clothes having just stepped in from work felt like a mission – a quick 20 minute HIT session in the comfort of my living room was my port of call. This ‘brutal’ work-out left my legs wobbling the next morning and built up much needed strength in my quads.
3. Walked in my hiking boots as much as possible
I commuted to work by foot when I could fit it in and any time it was feasible to swap a train journey for a walk, I would do so. This did mean having to suspend any concern I might have had for fashion for the course of the training. I bought a new pair of Scarpa Boots which were so comfy from the off.
4. Box Hill Hikes
As I live in South London, Box Hill was my closest terrain that most matched ‘mountainous’. Within the 3 months I had given myself to train, I had four early Sunday mornings to beat the crowds and hike the 8 Mile Circular walk as quickly as I could.
5. One practice climb of a mountain
To give me an idea of how hard this would be, try out all my gear, and get to know a route – I took myself off to Mount Snowdon over one weekend. It happened to be a day of severe weather but having driven 6 hours from London I wasn’t going to heed the weather warnings. Two and a half hours in, when 60mph winds were trying to blow me over while traversing what had become a waterfall because of the high rainfall – and all in low visibility, I decided to turn back. This experience however gave me a more accurate sense of how hard this challenge could be.
I am now in the glow of having completed this challenge, and while I feel that these 5 things really boosted my fitness and were feasible within my busy weeks – I wish I had doubled up on each. For all the time I spent looking for answers to how this challenge would be, here is mine: The 3 Peaks is the hardest thing I have ever done.
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Alice is a firm believer in there being no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes, and loves getting outdoors in all of the elements. She is in her own element when combining adventure with travel, food and words. Having lived in 4 different continents so far, she seeks out the numinous beauty in life.