Fitness Preparation

The following advice is not planned to be specific to all potential 10 Peaks competitors, it is more geared towards providing those of you that do not have any health issues a basic guide on what is required to get your mind and body ready to take on the challenge of a 10 Peaks race. Many of you will already have a training strategy, but for those that do not, this should help. {Where I talk about “running” training below, those of you that plan to walk the 10 Peaks event may wish to replace this by running/walking instead}

Mark out hill training whilst plotting the Brecon Route

Get started

We are now at the beginning of October and there are almost 9 full months before the Clif Bar 10 Peaks Lakes race. If this race is your first major focus for 2013 you have ample time to get yourself fully prepared. Don’t however be fooled into thinking that you can put off your training until after Christmas. There is much work to be done now and over the winter months to get your body ready for the more structured training that will commence in the spring.


Get yourself into a regular routine of training that can become the “norm” before winter bites, that way you will give yourself the best chance of coming out the other side of winter fitter than you went in. Build up slowly and train regularly. 4 or 5 individual session per week (of say 45 minutes to an hour for each session) is much better than one 2.5 hour session per week that leaves you unable to walk for 3 days. Use the weekend for your long runs and train over shorter distances during the week.

Cross training

I personally do plenty of cross training over the winter months. I know I am not able to do 5 running sessions in 7 days (my legs would break and I would get very bored!) so I do 5 or 6 different training sessions per week and I get far more out of them than I would from just running. So mix in some circuit training, cycling, swimming (…that is proper triathlon type swimming, not floating!!) but be sure to know your own body, and be prepared to swap sessions around to avoid overtraining certain muscles.

Winter Intensity

The winter is all about getting miles under your belt, increasing strength and endurance and avoiding injury. If you lay down the foundation over the next 5 months you will be in a great position to build on this come Feb/March. Do not worry about speed, this will come with more specific training in the spring. Just concentrate on getting the mileage done!

Don’t be afraid to double up a training session with another – e.g. cycle to the pool (working hard), swim (working hard) and cycle home gently.


Persuade your training buddies to commit to the same 2013 races as you and arrange some future training sessions and winter races together (which can be done as training runs), it is always easier to train over the winter when you have friends to help motivate you. Entering races over the winter gives you short term goals to aim for. Look at doing some of the Endurancelife Coastal Trail series, or other similar events. This will help to keep you focused over the short term.

Set yourself a realistic target for the 10 Peaks (i.e. a finishing time or position) and write it down, let friends know, publish it on the 10 Peaks facebook page, anything that will force you to stick to your goal and motivate you to train through the winter months. Then set a training plan for the winter and spring that you know will be achievable and prioritise it over those needless activities (Eastenders for instance!!).

Someone doing an Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series event

How far?

Consider where your fitness levels lie at the moment (usually judged by how far you can run at a steady pace before fatigue sets in too much) and look at the difference between this and what you would like to achieve on race day (the “fitness gap”). This gap needs to be narrowed fairly evenly and consistently over the winter and spring months. Keep doing your long weekend runs but increase the distance slightly every week or two. Divide the fitness gap by 7 months to find the monthly increase that you should aim for on average (i.e. if you comfortably run 10 miles now and want to run the short course of 35 miles, the fitness gap is 25 miles. Divided over 7 months equates to 3.5 miles per month). For the next 5 months aim to meet this monthly increase but feel free to drop off slightly if your body is tired.

Mark out recceing the Lakes 10 Peaks route pre 2012

Rest and recovery

Fitness comes from resting and recovering. Training breaks down your body and rest and recovery periods allow it to repair itself. Make sure you rest! Eat well to fuel your training (carbs etc) and eat well after training to recover (protein etc).

Every 5 or 6 weeks, take a week off running to allow your mind and body to fully recover and regenerate.

Make sure you sleep well as this is the time that your body repairs itself. Take a day off if you wake with a sore throat or your body feels tired.


Spring is the time to start focussing your training a little more. You have done all the hard work over the winter, laying the foundation on which you should now build. You will now have good endurance levels, so speed and hill work should start to feature regularly in your training. Your long steady runs at the weekends should continue but take in hills on your routes. Do the shorter, faster stuff midweek – interval sessions involving sections of fast work followed by recovery periods are good (i.e. following a good warm up period, run fast for 100m, 400m, a mile, whatever you are comfortable with, then jog for a minute or two to recover. Repeat 6 more times and finish with a warm down jog).

Start to get competitive with your training partners, set yourself goals (i.e. hill reps at a set speed/time, a known distance in a set time, etc), use these to monitor your fitness levels and strive for improvement.

Now is also the time to start visiting the fells and mountains for some of your long weekend runs (if you haven’t managed already) and dust off that map and compass. Practice your map reading skills, recce parts of the 10 Peaks routes, get your legs and lungs used to the climbs and reacquaint yourself with the wild! Remind yourself why exactly you bothered to put in all the hard hours over the winter, you will be glad that you did!

Come the end of May you should prove to yourself that you can complete the Clif Bar 10 Peaks Lakes route that you have opted for (long or short) by running/walking a similar distance (or approx 80 or 90% of it), over similar terrain, at somewhere close to the speed that you will be aiming for on race day. From the end of May onwards you should not be looking to gain much fitness, you should just be looking to avoid loosing what you have already gained and staying injury free. There is a month to go before the event so recce those parts of the course that are unfamiliar to you. Consider what sections of the route you will be tackling in the dark (not the first section as there will be a mass of people heading the same way) and get yourself there for a navigation exercise.

In summary –

Start now and get into a regular training routine. Commit to your training plan and use training partners and plenty of short term goals to keep motivated. Concentrate on slow steady runs for the winter and increase your mileage gradually. Recover! Come spring, build on the foundation you laid over the winter by adding speed and hill work. Check out the route before race day.

See you there fighting fit!