A guide to fitness for completing the 24.5 mile route
Yes, we got carried away with the “ultimate” bit, but we every year whilst guiding on the Y3P we find hundreds of people who fail to finish the route, often requesting transport back to the start point or painfully hobbling to the train station at the 10 mile point, what pretty much all of them have in common is poor preparation, so let’s share a few ideas with you, ideas that will save you making the same often painful mistakes.
If you are reading this you are likely to already know that the Y3P is 24.5 miles of road, trail and lots of stone slabs to walk with numerous “kissing gates” to go through. There is also the small matter of the 3 peaks..
So, where do we start with our advice?
Equipment and gear? (that’s another blog here)
Mental preparation? (that’s another blog)
Fitness for purpose?
Yep, let’s start with that….
You will know that you will be carrying enough food, water and appropriate clothing for a full days hiking (or running) in any weather over hilly terrain… very hilly.
Completing the Y3P is EASY PEASY… and I mean easy peasy.. for people who are used to covering 25 mile routes and over 6000 feet of climb but what about the rest of us who have only walked a few miles and unsure what to do…?
First of all, understand that according the National Park figures, over 200,000 people find themselves on the route every single year, of those anything between 20-40,000 aim to finish the whole route, with the majority of those 20-40,000 Y3P’ers claiming it to be the most amazing and wonderful experience and a few saying “never again”… the difference between the two is preparation…
The sooner that you start your training the better…(preparation)
Gym or Outdoors? (We get asked this question often)
If you can go to a gym and get the legs working hard (with some cardio) then great however there is no replacement for being in the outdoors (for lots of reasons) adapting to the ever changing weather, discovering what your equipment is like from using it in the outdoors, identifying the right kinds of foods that sustain you for a hard days hiking etc.
A very simple strategy to getting fit is to create a training plan.
Create your own mini plan….
Work backwards, so let’s say your event is in June (for example) – have at least 3 months training starting
In this example, March April May are your key months
March, nice and easy 5 mile routes with a small pack that contains your wet weather gear, first aid pack with blister treatment and refreshments, aim to get to 10 miles by the end of month 1 (March) you should be picking different routes, different trails and going in all weather other than severe or electrical.
April is achey April month.. the month to get some extra miles on, starting on 15 miles with slightly heavier pack (ensure your pack has a hip belt to distribute the weight nicely) by now you will know to eat lots the day before (of the kind of foods that do not leave you feeling bloated, not too much pasta etc) and your clothing, what works and what you need to replace or buy. You will also have started putting some good hills in, at least 4000 feet of climb by the end of the month 2.
May – this is your most enjoyable month (enjoyable being subjective) longer days out on the hills and much tougher hills, you must get up to 25 miles by the end of this month and at least 5000 feet of climb (or at least two big hills like Pen Y Ghent etc) you may have experienced heavy rain, strong winds up to 30/40mph or other challenging weather. By the end of the month your legs will feel strong, you will have better upper torso strength from all the picking up of your pack and general exercise and you may even have lost a few pounds.. you will know what to eat for a days hiking and have good fluid management skills in order to avoid leg cramps and dehydration.
Routes that you choose should be challenging, but what is more important is that of your safety whilst on any trail – walk in groups where possible on well defined and clear routes, ideally with a guide / leader unless you are competent with your navigation.
Whilst building up your fitness on the hills and trails always let others know where you are going (ideally leave a route description/plan card) and carry foul weather gear, mobile phone and refreshments.
You should be ready for the Y3P by the end of month 3..
Your enthusiasm, adrenalin and general excitement not to mention group or peer support will get you round the route in a way that will enable you to take it all in rather than simply zapping round the route quickly and just focusing on your time..
The Y3P is special, it has one of the most iconic railway viaducts in the world and a landscape that is breath-taking.. don’t allow your lack your lack of preparation to spoil the experience..
The Yorkshire 3 Peaks and the many peoples who live in the region will give you a warm welcome even when the weather is lousy… make the most of it!
The above plan is no different for taking part in The Nationals
The plan will also be enough for your to partake in the Hadrians Wall trek too!
Other ideas to get those legs in tip top shape:
1. Fill a heavy pack and get walking up and down your stairs at home, do sets of 10
2. Ski squats (google them) a really good exercise for thigh muscle strengthening
3. Sit against the wall at a 90 degree angle.. back against the wall in a sitting position
4. Squats with your pack on…
5. Gym “stuff” inform your fitness instructor / coach what you plan on doing and work on an agreed timetable of activities.
Train for purpose… give yourself plenty of healthy rewards for hitting key goals, share that success!!