Like any endurance challenge, the key is correct and specific preparation.
The majority of all injuries occur when muscles or joints are exposed to an amount of load that is more than they can tolerate. Which leaves us with two primary points of action to help reduce injuries. To reduce the load our muscles and joints are exposed to, and to increase the amount of load they can tolerate.
Starting with the former, there are several ways that we can reduce or modify the load pressures on our joints and muscles:
- Walking poles are a helpful tool utilised by walkers to distribute force between the arms and legs over hilly terrain.
- Packing Light! Sounds obvious but the taking careful consideration of what we pack helps us avoid needlessly wasting energy carrying heavy and unnecessary equipment or unused refreshments.
- Strappings and supports. Important to seek professional advice on the options here, but properly supporting areas of previously identified weakness or pain can help offload the pressure on bothersome joints like knees and ankles.
- Appropriate footwear: Correct footwear is very important – having a good pair of walking shoes or walking boots is to be recommended.
- Due to the terrain of the 3 peaks a walking boot would be more appropriate as it provides more support around the ankle.
- When selecting a boot take a pair of thick walking socks with you so you can try them in the shop. Make sure they are laced all the way up and they feel snug but not restrictive around the foot, especially check across the top of the foot.
- You should ideally have about a thumbs width from your longest toe to the end of the boot. Too small and nails will get easily damaged, too big and your toes will be gripping leading to other problems. If you have wider feet or bunions there are specific brands that accommodate for this better.
- Remember that your feet are bigger towards the end of the day so this is usually the best time to go shopping.
Moving on to our second action point, training to increase the amount of load our muscles and joints can tolerate. Here we need to study the challenge ahead and make our preparation specific to the task. The only thing more disappointing than not making it to the finish line, is overdoing it in training and not making it to the starting line! So when you are planning your training out, here are some key points to think of to help build your strength and endurance.
- Distance. What distance do you walk normally? What’s the most you have ever done in one day? You have 24miles ahead so start early and be realistic. It might not be necessary to perform the full distance in preparation but you should work your way up to at least 18miles prior to the event.
- Elevation. Combined the 3 peaks reach roughly 1585m in total ascent. Each individual peak is situated at roughly 700m of elevation. Try to reflect this in your preparation. Like the distance; start early, increase gradually, and don’t make huge leaps from what you have been used to.
- Terrain. Find areas that reflect the surfaces underfoot, rocky, muddy, uneven, uphill and downhill. There are no paved footpaths to the top of Pen-y-Gent or Ingleborough so walking down Main Street just won’t cut it.
- Intensity. Have a goal in mind for what time you want to complete the challenge in? Know how many breaks you plan to have and for how long? Have an understanding of your pace and timing and factor this into your training.
- Frequency. How many days per week do you walk / hike? How many rest days do you take in between walks? Plan your preparation to allow for full recovery before you go again.
Work up gradually to the challenge ahead. Injuries are more likely to happen if you increase all factors too much in a short period of time. ‘