How to supercharge your summer workout – Telegraph.co.uk

How to supercharge your summer workout  Telegraph.co.uk

Summer and the Olympics are here so now is the time to set new fitness goals and turn that ‘what if?’ into ‘I will’ – whether that means increasing your daily 20-minute jog into a 10k run, a bouldering hobby into a climbing feat, or a weekend dog walk into an epic hike.

When I quizzed Laura Penhaul, performance manager for endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont (herself a world record holder who led the first all-female crew to row the Pacific Ocean) on how to build resilience and endurance, she explained that we need an endurance mindset to be successful in life. “Why not apply this to becoming a better endurance cyclist, swimmer or runner as well?” she asked.

Well, why not? We could probably all do with a new challenge to focus on after the year we’ve all had. In order to get motivated, I caught up with leading names in endurance to find out how they set big goals, supercharge their workouts and actually achieve them.

Whether you dream of swimming the Channel, signing up for a marathon, a hiking weekend in the Lake District, read on to learn from the best, whether you want to break records, or simply go that bit further…     

Claire Maxted: ‘Trail running is one of the best gifts you can give your mind and body’

Former Trail Running magazine editor Claire Maxted, 37, runs YouTube channel and podcast Wild Ginger Running, sharing trail and ultra running advice and inspiration

“Trail running is an opportunity to explore your local area, allowing you the freedom to go off the beaten track. It’s exciting following paths, bridleways and tracks, both urban and rural. Trails might take you beside canals and rivers, through forests and fields, over stiles and up hills and mountains – anywhere without tarmac.

“There’s sensory feedback from your surroundings, and it’s less repetitive than road running. All you need is grippy trainers and a sense of adventure. It might be muddier, but exercise in nature is one of the best gifts you can give your mind and body. If there were a pill containing all the physical and mental health benefits trail running gives you, it would be worth millions.

“I took it up when I was working on the walking magazine Trail and discovered the Lakeland Trails, beginner-friendly 5k trail running events up to 100k ultras, on beautiful hilly courses in the Lake District. Then I challenged myself to complete the Bob Graham Round, a famously tough Lake District trail run tackling 42 fells in 24 hours. But to be a trail runner, you don’t have to travel far – wherever you are, there’ll be plenty of trails. Just look for the green and blue dotted lines on an OS map: in London, Wimbledon Common is an oasis of paths, logs to jump over and leaves to kick.

“Near Birmingham, there are canals and Cannock Chase forest. For me, the focus isn’t on speed, but on being in the moment and completing a route. It’s like hiking, but sped up. It’s a friendly sport, and most people don’t realise that it’s OK to walk up hills, especially during a steep, long race. I had a baby in January, but Round the Rock in Jersey is next on my list to train for.”

Visit findarace.com to find trail running events near you

Vassos Alexander: ‘While it’s good to have a goal, don’t put pressure on yourself’

Endurance runner Vassos Alexander, 47, is the sports presenter for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, hosts the Parkrun podcast and is the author of Running Up That Hill – The Highs and Lows of Going that Bit Further.

“A run gives you pep and va va voom for the rest of the day. It’s therapy in many respects – a way to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete on the mind. Once you’ve got used to the idea that you’re a runner, you might think well, I can do a 5k, can I double that? A marathon is hard, and you might not think it’s for you, but I promise you won’t regret it. You never regret a run.

“But while it’s good to have a goal, don’t put pressure on yourself. Top athletes talk about process over results: enjoy the training runs on the way there. My cast iron rule for training is the 10 per cent rule – never increasing weekly mileage by more than 10 per cent over the previous week, to prevent injury.

“One trick is to think about why you’re running – whether for yourself, for someone else, or for a good cause. If you’ve got your ‘why’ on your mind or written down in your pocket, that’s a great motivator. Then, enter a race – a big deal race, with spectators. My first was the Great North Run half marathon.

“I was blown away by the atmosphere, everyone pouring out of their houses to offer encouragement and Jelly Babies to all those runners, with a common goal, many raising money. The thought of such mass, all-encompassing goodness is more exciting than ever. My favourite place in the world is the start line of a marathon.”

Vassos Alexander’s How to Run a Marathon: The Go-To Guide for Anyone and Everyone (Harper Collins, £12.99), is out now. Order your copy from Telegraph Books or call  0844 851 1514   

Mark Beaumont: ‘If you’re challenging yourself, life never feels like Groundhog Day’

World record-breaking long-distance cyclist Mark Beaumont, 37, cycled 18,000 miles in a successful attempt to ride around the world in 80 days in 2017. His latest book, Endurance: How to Cycle Further (Global Cycling Network, £16.99), co-authored with his performance manager Laura Penhaul, is an accessible guide to riding any distance

“Our bodies can go further than our minds often believe is possible – young or old, female or male.

“Many people wouldn’t imagine cycling further than they’d walk, but in order to inspire you, a challenge needs to take you out of your comfort zone. If you’re challenging yourself on your bike, life never feels like Groundhog Day. I think of it as an adventure, creating life-affirming memories and quality time, rather than “training” – it’s not all about average speeds, or the distances you go – it’s something to look forward to, that gives you a sense of fulfilment and is good for your soul.

 Getting out into the great outdoors feeds the kid inside us, and feeds curiosity and ambition. The athleticism around cycling can put people off, but discovering new trails on a bike is such an accessible way to find excitement.  You won’t always be happy and smiling, but fond memories will often involve those tough moments.

“I like the quote, ‘You will never do better than what you set out to do’. It highlights the self-limiting nature of targets, and the power of having a plan. If you have a plan, you can break your challenge down, and raise the prospects of success. Cycling a century is all about focusing on 100 miles. Right? Wrong. 100 miles is an output and will take care of itself. Seeing other people’s feats on social media is inspiring, which is positive, but what you’re seeing are outputs, not years of inputs, experience and planning. You have to plan, pace, fuel and think your way through a ride.

“Flip your challenge on its head, so you aren’t intimidated by the scale of the task – and then focus on riding the road in front of you.”

The first series of Mark Beaumont’s podcast Endurance is available on Spotify   

Lewis Pugh: “Train in miserable conditions. It will be a tremendous relief in fair weather”

In 2007, UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh, 50, swam across the North Pole to highlight the melting of Arctic sea ice. In 2018, he swam the length of the English Channel from Land’s End to Dover (the first person to do so), in a call for 30 per cent of the world’s oceans to be protected by 2030.

“My mother died of Covid. It’s been the toughest year of my life, by a factor of 10. I wasn’t able to swim for months, or see her before she passed away. There were so many times I was away and wanted to be with her – but she knew I loved her, and I knew she loved me. I also know this: we have to get outside, we have to exercise, and we have to keep moving forward. 

“Interest in the health benefits of cold water swimming has been supercharged this year. It makes you feel alive. It’s been a joy to see people heading to rivers, lakes and beaches. I’ve received so many requests for advice on how to swim longer distances, such as the Channel. 

“My advice would be to find the best swimming coach in town. Make sure he or she suits your personality and believes in you. The quality of your training is proportional to the quality of your training partners, so train with other tough swimmers, and spend time on technique. I put an advert in a paper for a training partner in the Outer Hebrides ahead of my swim in Antarctica, and found 30-year-old Dr Max Holloway – he was a truly outstanding coach (wayoutside.co.uk). Courage is contagious, so I surround myself with the most courageous people I can find. I listen to BBC Radio 4’s Don’t Tell Me The Score with Simon Mundie for inspiration: other people’s stories can light a flame inside you.

“If you’re training for the Channel, get out of the pool and into the sea – there’s no comparison. Train regularly, every day, rather than a big session at the weekend. Half an hour is two per cent of a day: if you haven’t got two per cent of a day to dedicate to your wellbeing, you need to realign your priorities. If you find swimming difficult, swim more, and enjoy the views. Train in miserable conditions, and do the mileage. Do it over and over again. The difference will be a tremendous relief in fair weather. 

“Leave your doubts on land – worry isn’t going to help you. As the Inuits say, in times of struggle, there is an almighty battle in the mind between two wolves, the good and the bad. The one which wins is the one you feed.”

Visit lewispugh.com; for more information about outdoor swimming in the UK see outdoorswimmingsociety.com and the British Long Distance Swimming Association (bldsa.org.uk)

Shauna Coxsey MBE: “Tell other people your goals to make them real”

Shauna Coxsey MBE, 27, is the UK’s most successful competition climber. The first person selected to represent Team GB for sport climbing at the Tokyo Olympics, she is director of the Women’s Climbing Symposium and a patron of Climbers Against Cancer.

“Climbing is the best training for climbing. It’s a full body sport, and I’ve been sharing exercises specific for climbers on my YouTube channel, like mobility, shoulder and glute sequences to help people get stronger at home. 

“Check the Association of British Climbing Walls and government guidance to find out whether climbing centres are open near you, but if so I’d urge anyone to book an induction – that’s the first step. The best way to stay motivated is to set goals. I like to have one big goal looming and a dream for the future, with lots of little goals to tick off along the way. 

“I write them down, stick them on the wall and tell other people, to make them real. That’s what will get you off the sofa. It might be to do your first pull-up, your first outdoor climb, or your first purple-rated climb at your centre. If you want to climb outdoors, go on a proper indoor to out course to learn how to be safe, where the best access points are and what the etiquette is when it comes to preserving the surroundings. 

“I eat healthily and fuel what I do, but I also love eating cake. My number one piece of advice is to have fun – you’ll get way more from any experience, climbing included, if you’re enjoying it.”     

womensclimbingsymposium.com

Kit list: All the gear you need to go further this summer

Merrell MTL Skyfire trail running shoes

£100, merrell.com

A nimble shoe to help you handle rough terrain.

Harrier Trail Running “Curbar” 5l hydration running vest

£54, harrierrunfree.co.uk

Embrace the freedom of the trail hands-free with a comfortable vest that carries a deceptive amount of kit and hydrating H20.     

Garmin Swim 2 Bluetooth fitness tracking watch with GPS and HR Monitoring

£219.99, John Lewis

A smart watch for swimmers – track your distance, pace, stroke count, stroke type and distance per stroke.

Rapha Men’s Core cycling jacket in red/blue

£110, rapha.cc

Get the basics right with a jacket to keep wind and rain at bay, with pockets for valuables, spare clothing and more.

Speedo Fastskin Hyper Elite Mirror goggles

£50, speedo.com

Hydrodynamic, securely fitted goggles will reduce red marks around your eyes and improve peripheral vision; mirrored lenses reduce glare.

Garmin Swim 2 Bluetooth fitness tracking watch with GPS and HR Monitoring

£219.99, John Lewis

A smart watch for swimmers – track your distance, pace, stroke count, stroke type and distance per stroke.

Beastmaker 1000 series training hangboard

£77.99, ungraded.co.uk

Train to improve your climbing technique and hand and finger grip strength at home with a fingerboard hung on the wall.

Dryrobe Advance long sleeve in cobalt blue 

£150, dryrobe.com

No outdoor swimmer should be without a snugly robe to don while enjoying a well-deserved hot drink.

Aftershokz Aeropex bone-conducting headphones

£149.95, aftershokz.co.uk

Listen to motivating music and podcasts while still being alert to sounds around you with these waterproof, wireless bone conduction headphones, which rest next to rather than inside the ears.