Whether it's climbing Kilimanjaro, making it to Everest Base Camp or other challenging overseas treks, it can be daunting knowing where to start with your training.
But with the right advice and preparation, it's entirely possible to achieve extraordinary feats, and Ade Cunliffe and Jo Bradshaw are two shining examples.
Ade [pictured left] is a trustee of the Steve Prescott Foundation and has helped it raise over a million pounds.
The Foundation was set up by rugby league legend Steve Prescott, who was diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer in 2006 and given months to live. He went on to organise a series of money-raising initiatives and took part in an incredible range of challenges himself, including running the London Marathon, rowing the English Channel and cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats while completing the National Three Peaks Challenge en route.
Prescott passed away in 2013, but his legacy lives on, and Cunliffe came up with the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro and setting a world record for the highest altitude game of rugby league, which came to fruition in October 2015 [see main image above]. And a year later he planned and led a 41-strong team, including many of the same rugby league stars, to Everest Base Camp.
Jo Bradshaw's first foray into outdoor challenges was as a participant, but since then she’s become an expedition leader, with countless Kilimanjaro summits and other successful group trips under her belt.
In 2016 she took on a life-changing adventure of her own, climbing the highest mountain in the world, Everest. She now has her sights on the 7 Summits, with three to go. Here are their top 10 tips:
Be positive - and stay positive
"I remember what the starting point was like - nervous, not sure what to expect and wondering if I was capable. Back then I was fairly shy, quite risk averse and very fearful of heights but once I put my mind to it, I managed to conquer the fears by switching my brain to the positive side of life rather than thinking of all the things that can go wrong. If I can do it so can anyone! And remember that a bad training session is still better than no training session, you will start to see the results and what was once extraordinary will soon become ordinary." Jo Bradshaw.
Prepare for long days
"I did running, circuit training and went out walking most weekends, including climbing Snowdon around six times a year. Sometimes I did a “double” Snowdon, going up and back down, before having some food and doing it all again. It's all about getting the legs as strong as possible, and the feet used to long days in the boots." Ade Cunliffe
Keep pushing yourself
"My ‘inner lazy’ is very strong and well developed, and I still have to kick my butt out the door, but I know that I’m the only one who is going to get myself fit. Keep finding the time to train, make some sacrifices, eat well to fuel your body and your challenge will then be less challenging." Jo Bradshaw
Train wherever you can
"Many of the participants on our challenges live in big cities, but training was never a problem for them - find whatever hills you can and do repeat climbs." Ade Cunliffe
Go on a training weekend
"Carefully follow the training plan you are given and try and go on a training weekend beforehand. Discover Adventure run them in North Wales, and they test your fitness and kit, help you gain more knowledge about your future challenge and meet others on a similar journey. They're useful to go on if you are undecided too." Jo Bradshaw
Training weekends and courses
Respect the altitude
"There's the option beforehand of accessing altitude chambers to gain some experience of what it would be like walking at high altitude. And that's the toughest thing about Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp climbs - I'd never experienced anything like it." Ade Cunliffe
Get kitted up
"It's vital to get used to all the equipment you will be using - and find out what works best for you. I always had a weighted backpack on my back during training, making sure it was well fitted. Walking poles were invaluable for me too. Learn to use them properly, and they really do help." Ade Cunliffe
"The more the team know each other, the more confident they are when on that mountain. You often see bonds formed quickly, as people buddy up with people they think are alike, fitness wise. It helps everyone and is great to see. For our challenges, I got our team together as quickly and as often as possible - it reaps the rewards when you are in that foreign environment." Ade Cunliffe
Listen to advice
"Both before and during your trek try and learn as much as you can from those who have been there and done it. On the trek itself, your guides are the experts, not you. They'll tell you to walk slow, really really slow - in Swahili they say “Pole Pole”. Sleep as much as you can too; it's crucial to get as much as possible. Eat everything given to you; you must fuel your body. And drink at least six litres a day - one litre before you start, four while walking, and one after you've finished." Ade Cunliffe
Just do it
"If you want to take on Kilimanjaro or Everest, then just do it. Don’t sit there saying 'that looks amazing' - get out there, climb that mountain and say 'yes, that was amazing'." Ade Cunliffe
"Signing up is the first and probably biggest step. Stop procrastinating and just do it. Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, everything else will fall into place as you are now committed." Jo Bradshaw
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