WHAT IS THE THREE PEAKS CHALLENGE?
The Three Peaks Challenge is a hike that typically covers the highest mountains in England, Wales and Scotland, with walkers scaling each peak in either 36 or 24 hours, catching snippets of sleep in the car between destinations.
The three mountains covered are:
- Ben Nevis – 1345m (typical hiking time five hours)
- Snowdon – 1085m (typical hiking time four hours)
- Scafell Pike – 978m (typical hiking time four hours)
So it’s no small challenge. Three Peaks hikers can expect to face changing weather conditions, steep climbs and, of course, lots and lots of walking. When teamed with increasing tiredness from lack of sleep, this becomes a real endurance test that takes training and preparation.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE THREE PEAKS CHALLENGE?
How challenging you find the Three Peaks depends on a few different elements – how prepared you are, and what conditions you face when you’re there. You can’t help the weather, and if conditions are poor, try not to put yourself at risk unnecessarily – it’s better to not complete the challenge and stay safe than to force your way up a mountain through rain and fog.
You do, however, have control over how primed you are for the Three Peaks, both in fitness levels and preparedness. Making sure you have all the right kit is a no brainer, and with the amount of practise walks you should be taking in the lead up to the Challenge, you should know what you personally need to take with you. The harder task will be making sure your body is in good enough shape to complete the challenge – you’ll be more likely to struggle to complete the Three Peaks if you’re unfit, but with a well thought-out training plan, you’ll be sure to find it an enjoyable, if demanding experience.
HOW CAN I PHYSICALLY PREPARE FOR THE THREE PEAKS CHALLENGE?
Start preparing as soon as you can – it helps to have a reasonable level of fitness first and then spend around three to four months ahead of the challenge stepping up your training in the gym, with plenty of practice hikes out and about. This will give you time to test all of your gear and ready your body for the challenge, so not only will you find it easier to complete, but you’ll also be less likely to suffer injury. Slowly increase your intensity over time to prevent injury while training.
Your body will need to maintain fairly strenuous activity for a prolonged period of time, so improving your muscular endurance and cardio fitness is key.
Around 3-4 months before the hike:
- Over the course of a week, focus one day on resistance training, one on cardio (30 – 90 minutes continuous activity), one on general fitness (to mix up the cardio) and aim for one longer outdoor hike a week, with plenty of rest days in between.
1-2 months beforehand:
- Start cutting down the rest days with a heavier focus on the aerobic/cardio training over the strength and resistance (60 – 90 minutes constant activity – can be swimming, running, cycling etc.).