Training for the mountains

Emily and I first met doing a charity challenge in the Lake District – hiking the four highest peaks in 2 days. One Scarfell, Scarfell Pike, Skiddaw and Helvellyn later and we had become friends – mainly because we spent most of that weekend together at the back of the group, huffing, puffing and slogging our way up and down those mountains. It turned out neither of us was a) particularly good at hillwalking and b) very prepared for our mountain challenge.

Fast forward to today…over a glass (or three) of wine Emily and I have signed up to do another charity challenge. The Lake District again but this time 24 (yes, twenty four!) peaks in 2 days. Gulp.

I moved to Norfolk in 2021. Norfolk, a county known for its flatness. It isn’t actually as flat as people think (that’s the Fens), but it’s probably not the best place in the world to train for a significant hill walking challenge. I really want to be prepared for this one so I can try and enjoy it – so how to get there?

Adding aerobic exercise

I do a lot of walking so I am not overly concerned about the distance, but I really need to up my leg strength and get more cardio exercise in to improve fitness. So I have started step aerobics sessions 2 – 3 times a week. Fast basic step is a great workout, gets the heart pumping, involves a lot of leg work of course and builds up a right old sweat! I can already feel a huge difference in my fitness after just one month.

Hitting the hills

I also need to get as much hill work in as possible. So whenever we can, the husband and I are taking opportunities to get cheeky weekends in hilly places. We did Cadair Idris in October – my first mountain summit since 2017 and a great day out. It was HARD, especially the long descent. In January the London walkers came to visit and we did a 13-mile epic Norfolk walk near Cromer which took in 2 of Norfolks highest peaks. They aren’t high, but they were uphill. That with the distance made it a good training walk.

In February I took on Kinder Scout, the highest peak in the Peak District. Another great day but the thought of adding another 23 to something like that does make me wonder if we have taken on too much!

Stamina

I need to start upping my distances as well to build stamina. Handy then, that The Walking Post is launching the North – South London Trail at the beginning of May. Two 17-mile days back to back will be a great opportunity to test out my legs over distance. Then in July Lucy, Emily and I have committed to the Edale Skyline walk in the Peak District. This is one of the Peaks most epic walks – a 20 mile ridge walk in the High Peak taking in over 1000m of ascent and is a considerable challenge in itself. A perfect training walk for the Lakes and a chance to really see how far we have come (and how far we have to go!)

My next plan once the weather sorts itself out a bit is to get on those beautiful, empty North Norfolk beaches and do some long walks on the thick sand to work my legs and glutes. And I might get on a bike and start cycling as well.

Charity

Probably the best training motivation of all is the reason we are doing this challenge in the first place. We are raising money for Breast Cancer Now, a charity heavily involved in research into breast cancer and supporting people who have been diagnosed. It is close to our hearts – Emily was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022 and is emerging out of the other side, and more recently my cousin has just been diagnosed. This disease is indiscriminate and feels very unfair, so the least I can do is climb a few mountains.

Let us know if you have any training tips for hills…we need as much help as we can get. You can follow our progress on our Just Giving page.

by Lizzie Huckle

I work with international students in Higher Education. Outside of work I juggle 5 chickens, 4 children and a dog. I live in the beautiful Norfolk countryside with my partner Ben and we spend as much time as we can exploring this beautiful country.

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