Joe, one half of Team Quadrophenia from Mary’s Meals, has been hill training to ensure he’s ready to tackle the seven Munros he will face on the 8th of July. He reflects on this challenge and the challenge facing those Mary’s Meals strives to reach.
‘Everyone at Mary’s Meals has been really supportive of us taking on the Great Quad. Not only have our colleagues helped us with our fundraising efforts, but some have taken it a step further and joined us on our training.
Along with some friends at Mary’s Meals we decided to climb Ben Vrackie (2,757ft) near Pitlochry very early on a brisk Saturday morning, which seemed like a great idea at the time. We didn’t feel all that fresh when we first started the climb but a few hours breathing in the clear Scottish air certainly changed that.
We finally reached the top and, while spirits were high, we were exhausted.
It made me think back to a story from Mary’s Meals’ new award winning film Generation Hope.
A few years ago, we were asked to begin feeding at a school in a remote village in Southern Malawi situated at the top of Chaone Mountain, standing more than 1000 metres above sea level. There was no road up the mountainside, and therefore Mary’s Meals would be unable to transport the food to the school. The villagers were undeterred: they would carry the food to the summit.
In the film a woman named Elby grins into the camera as she hauls three bags of likuni phala – a collective weight of 60kg – onto her head. She balances the load as she joins a chain of women beginning the difficult ascent to the peak. As the women arrive at the school, teachers lead their pupils in celebration; a welcoming song and dance for Mary’s Meals and the news that the children of Chaone will now receive a daily mug of likuni phala (a vitamin-enriched maize porridge) in school.
By taking part in the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon and fundraising for Mary’s Meals you truly are transforming lives.
The women of Chaone Mountain stop halfway through their hard climb for a well-earned break but they still continue to smile and dance… and they look a lot better than we did halfway through our climb! One of the ladies explains their cheerful approach to the task ahead, she says: “Walking this path is indeed rough. But we are motivated knowing that each long journey begins with a single step.”
15 miles, easy you might think, just a little more than half marathon? Throw in 7 Munro summits with a total of 7500 feet of ascent and it makes things a little more challenging! This makes it the toughest and longest section of the Quadrathlon. We have put together a few tips to assist your comfort and fitness on the hills:
Get the right shoes. Don’t start training in the old trainers you’ve had for years. Buy a pair of hill/fell shoes with plenty of grip, support and cushioning. Your feet and knees will love you for it!
Kit – get the right kit from the start. Go for wicking t-shirts, breathable tops, lightweight waterproofs and padded socks. Avoid cotton clothing and work socks! With the volume of training you will be doing, your body will be under a lot of stress, simply wearing the right kit will make training much more enjoyable. Get used to your hill kit and become a pro at maintaining a constant body temperature by adjusting your clothes accordingly as you walk.
Hydration and Nutrition – This is essential to get right. Any training session that is more than an hour long you should be eating and drinking during it. As a rough rule of thumb go for carbohydrates before and during endurance training to give you the energy you need and have protein after training to help your body recover quickly. Drink little and often but replace your salts, don’t just drink water.
Now is the time to improve your leg strength. You have 7 mountains to climb that vary in height and steepness but most teams will be walking and running for 5 – 8 hours. Get into the gym and work on your leg strength. Start with basic exercise like squats and lunges, progress onto step-ups and more dynamic jumping movements. Add in some upper body, core and abdominal training and you will have a great blend. If you need help with your technique, how to train with existing injuries or just want some advice then contact your local gym or personal trainer. As you get stronger add weight to increase the difficulty. Not everyone enjoys the gym but you will feel a big difference very quickly. Aim to get to the gym 1 -3 times a week during the first 3 months of training
When road running you generally run on the flat with slight uphills and downhills. The Munro’s are totally different to this. Running downhill is very hard on your body due to the impact of your feet hitting the ground with more momentum. It is essential that you practice walking/running uphill and downhill at race pace. This will ready your body for the demands of the event by strengthening muscles, joints and ligaments. It will also help improve your balance, ankle and core strength.
Hill Reps - nobody likes doing them but they will help you build the mountain fitness, leg strength and help you shed a few unwanted pounds. To improve leg strength find a steep hill, anything that takes 30 secs to 2 minutes to climb. Run as hard as you can up the hill, walk back down and repeat 4 - 6 times after you have done a 10-15 minute warm up. Once you can do this, find a steeper or longer hill to tackle. To improve your strength endurance, make your reps longer and don’t attack them as hard, build up your speed as you build up your fitness.
Use walking poles on the entire hill phase and insure you practice with them. Practice on some challenging hill terrain, and if you live somewhere without hills, go and find some mountains! North Wales, the Lake District, or even come up to Scotland!
If you would like to train on the actual Quad route, do drop in to see us at Kindrochit for a cup of tea or a bowl of pasta!
Finally, have fun and enjoy the training as it’s a great way to see stunning parts of the UK!