Endurance challenges had me hooked many years ago. Being deep in the pain cave, feeling completely broken and like you have nothing left to give. Finding a way to keep going, keep pushing and come out the other side to complete your wild and ambitious challenge. That feeling, is something I would love everyone in the world to experience. It’s magical because of the way it changes you.
Having completed some of the world’s toughest endurance events like Ironman, World’s Toughest Mudder, running 100km ultra marathons and cycling London to Paris in 24 hours, here is what I’ve learnt along the road.
1. Build an endurance base
The last thing you want going into your challenge is doubting whether you can actually go the distance, so prove to yourself you can. Building an endurance base is absolutely key. Tapping out the same workout over and over will not lead to the results you are looking for. If you have set yourself a big challenge, your training needs to build and go big in line with it. Endurance is about training your body and mind to keep moving when you are tired, aching and want to stop.
TOP TIP: Choose events or training sessions that are over five hours long. Double up your sessions by training twice in a day or doing back to back big training days on weekends.
2. Know your biggest challenge
Accept that this is going to be tough and that there will be moments when you want to stop and curl up in bed. On a 24 hour challenge, the hardest part for me is always during the night, dealing with being wet, cold or tired depending on the weather. When you feel utterly broken and like you have nothing else to give, you really need to harness your why and think about why you set yourself this challenge in the first place. When you break through those dark times and produce to goods to keep going, something magical happens. Those moments build inner strength that becomes an unbreakable park of you, and will stay with you for the rest of your life!
TOP TIP: Tap into the energy and support of the people around you. Remember why you are doing the challenge you’ve set yourself. You wouldn’t be doing if it was easy. You’ve got this!
3. Build mental resilience
The most important element is the belief that you can do this. If this belief is water tight, you can do anything you set your mind to. Invest all your energy into doing the very best you can, rather than worrying that you are not good enough or won’t be able to complete it. Worrying is a colossal waste of energy and you need all the energy you can to complete your challenge.
TOP TIP: In the lead up to your event, focus on the things that make you feel strong and positive rather than focusing on negative thoughts and self-doubt. Don’t let them in!
4. There are no shortcuts
You have to put in the hours, it is as simple as that. There is no better strategy than investing the hours in getting stronger, more efficient and confident in your sport. Use your commute to work, or any opportunity you can to swap being in the car or on public transport, with getting on your bike or out on a run. It’s a great opportunity to practise your nutrition and hydration too.
TOP TIP: Join a club, or group to help you stay motivated and keep your training fun! Don’t worry about being a beginner, starting at the back and holding people up or not knowing the ropes. Many people have helped me out on my journey when I knew nothing. Enthusiasm to learn and improve is always welcome! Sign up for my London to Paris training ride here.
5. Set a training Challenge
In the months before the big day set a training challenge that will help you build confidence. With my London to Paris Sportive, I always recommend to aim for cycling 100 miles in one day. You never need to complete the whole distance of your challenge, but definitely do something that pushes you far enough to know what it feels like to dig deep. It’s fun to have a training goal to work towards and completing it will help your body and mind get ready for what’s to come.
TOP TIP: Set something that inspires you; that makes you feel scared and excited in equal measure.
The most important thing is to remember how incredible and invincible you will feel having completed your challenge, and the memories and stories you’ll have forever. You have signed up for the adventure of a lifetime, go grab it with both hands!