by Helen Tamblyn

How To Choose A Fitness Challenge

So, you’ve decided that you’re Up For A Challenge? Perhaps you want to take on an endurance feat to raise money for charity, or maybe you’ve simply decided that it’s time to challenge yourself. We bring you a round up of some of the different types of challenge events on offer, to give you some idea of the right event for you.


Fun run

Popular with charity fundraisers and people wanting to get fit, choosing a mass participation fun run is a great challenge. The 5k (3.1 miles) distance is the perfect first event for novice runners, with most people opting to following a “couch to 5k” plan designed to get them race fit. For a longer challenge, 10k (6.2 miles) is becoming increasingly popular and is an attainable goal for most. Events such as the Race for Life, Great Run series and BHF runs offer plenty of crowd support, training plans and tips for fundraising. If you are running for a charity, most charities typically send a support team to cheer you along the way, complete with a celebration at the end to motivate you around the course. If you are looking for the challenge of completing a 5k without the pressure of spectators and fundraising, you could also pop along to parkrun, held every Saturday throughout the country.



Robin Hood Marathon



Marathon running

If you’ve completed a fun run and you want to up the distance, then completing a marathon is the ultimate running challenge. Training for a marathon requires months of commitment and running whatever the weather, but race day is an experience that marathon runners never forget. You’re training your body and your mind to take on the ultimate challenge and drawing on crowd support on race day will help you tackle your demons as you chase down the finish line in your quest for your finishers medal. The London Marathon is extremely popular with charity runners, with many participants opting to run in costume to increase fundraising donations. With a ballot system for non-charity runners, the London Marathon is becoming increasingly difficult to enter. Brighton, Bournemouth, Manchester and Belfast are also popular city marathons which are great alternatives to London.



London Marathon




Looking for something lower impact, or perhaps looking to improve your swimming prowess? Why not take on a swimming challenge? The Swimathon event has become incredibly popular, increasing participation in swimming as people have trained to take on distances varying from 1.5k to 5k in their local pools. For those wanting to try something a little different and really test their skills, the Great Swim series offers a series of events in open water. Swimming is good for you, while being low impact, making it a good option for injured would-be runners. Many leisure centres now offer adult swimming classes for people wanting to brush up on technique.







Great for fitness and lots of fun, distance cycle rides are a great challenge for those looking to increase their usual cycle mileage, try a new sport, or to get fit. Partner up with a friend and enjoy the scenery and chat as the miles tick by. Bike races such as the 54 mile BHF London to Brighton are open to all regardless of ability, with the emphasis on taking part. Cycling is great for your cardio health and is also a great way of getting around town.



Lagans Foundation Remembrance Cycle




Can’t decide whether to run, swim or cycle? Triathlon gives you the opportunity to take on all three, starting with a swim, followed by a bike ride and following up with a run. Distances vary from super-sprint (400m swim, 10k cycle, 2.5k run) to ironman (3.8k swim, 180km cycle, 42k marathon run), adult meaning that regardless of ability, there is a distance to suit all. There are many mass participation events such as the London Triathlon, open to all abilities and triathletes will usually train in the months leading up to the big day. Training is varied, leading to increased cardio and core strength as competitors practise transitions and switching from one event to another. Triathlon is becoming increasingly popular, with leisure centres now offering “tri classes” to aspiring triathletes.






Mud run

Not bothered about running for a time? Get your feet wet (literally) and your hands dirty by taking on a mud run. From the fun Gauntlet Games to the hardcore Tough Mudder events, mud runs boast a variety of obstacles and mud over varying distances. The spirit of friendship at a mud run is like no other as participants help each other out to take on the obstacles. Runners can expect to take on walls, water, jumps and climb as they make their way to the finish, covered in mud, for a well deserved beer. It’s also a great excuse to revert to childhood by tackling the monkey bars to build up upper body strength.







Enjoy walking and beautiful scenery? What about taking on a trek? Keen walkers often tackle the famous Three Peaks Challenge, taking in the sights of Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike. The more adventurous may enjoy a charity expedition along The Great Wall of China or Mount Kilimanjaro. These events aren’t cheap, but make for a once in a life time opportunity. Training should start several months in advance to prepare for these events, by tackling similar terrain, researching the conditions and making sure you’re fit.  Idyllic treks closer to home include the beauty of the North Downs and South Downs way, with keen walkers often tackling the entire length.