With the end of lockdown in sight, the motivation to keep moving may begin to falter. Not being able to visit pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, or museums has led to many people exploring nature more. With a whole host of new activities available, some may struggle. Let's look at five fitness challenges to keep you moving all year.
Fitness Challenge #1: Walk to Mordor
Have you read The Lord of the Rings? Or have you seen the films? How far do you think those hobbits travelled? 400 kilometres? 800? It’s actually 3,110km! Incredible. With the “Walk to Mordor" app, you can retrace their steps virtually.
The app splits the distance into milestones, with each milestone relevant to a part of the journey. Just get yourself a step counter app or Fitbit and record your daily distance in the app each day. Each milestone provides a bit of the story and some passages from the books.
Obviously, you will have to use your imagination a lot! Still, the ability to walk in the footsteps of the Fellowship of the Ring is a pretty fun idea. It can also really help motivate you to get out of the house and get those steps in.
You could also listen to The Lord of the Rings audiobook while you walk to get into the spirit of things!
Fitness Challenge #2: Couch to 5K
The Couch to 5K is an NHS run fitness challenge app that has proved immensely popular over the last few years. It is a nine-week plan designed to get you to progress from not running at all to running continuously for 5 kilometres.
The simple format and well-designed program have helped get people who haven't run since they left school to slowly work their way up to a very decent fitness level. Once you've finished the nine weeks, you can progress further or maintain your 5k distance and aim for a faster time.
This is perfect for anyone who wants to start running or get back into it after a long pause. You can also perform it at a brisk walk if running is not currently an option.
If you want to do the Couch to 5K yourself, check out our article from last year featuring a Couch to 5K plan for over 50s.
Fitness Challenge #3: Virtual walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats
Walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats is something many people in the UK have thought of wistfully at one time or another - perhaps at the end of a long day’s walk in the country. But the logistics of such a walk often prove too daunting.
So how about doing the walk using your phone? The Conqueror Virtual Challenge is a collection of virtual walks you can do over as long a period as you need. There are hundreds of other walks to choose from.
Maybe you would like to walk along Hadrian’s Wall? Or along the Inca Trail. While this fitness challenge is not free, it provides the best virtual experience of any of the challenges on this list. You receive a finisher’s medal after completion. You can see street views of your virtual location and receive virtual postcodes along the way.
Each sign up pays for five trees to be planted, too, so your virtual walking challenge helps the planet as well as your health!
Fitness Challenge #4: Everest Anywhere
The idea behind Everest Anywhere is for you to simulate climbing Mount Everest by tracking your walks up hills around the UK. Instead of tracking your distance, this is all about your elevation. You walk until you have “climbed” 8,848m height of Mount Everest.
You can follow this challenge using any hill in your surrounding area, but you can also do it from scenic hills and mountains in the UK. The website provides details for many different excellent routes you can take.
This challenge will probably be quite challenging for many, but it should be a lot of fun! Explore and enjoy as much of the countryside as you can!
Everest Anywhere also provides a version of the Couch to 5K training program, the "Sofa to Summit" workout program. The workouts are a little on the tough side but certainly within most people’s capabilities. All the workouts are accompanied by photos of a woman exercising with her dog, which is pretty adorable.
Fitness Challenge #5: Walk alongside rugby greats
How does walking alongside Irish rugby legend Keith Wood sound? What about walking 30.71km to hear Scotland’s Andrew Gavin Hastings talk about his life? Or a further 79.3km for an in-depth discussion by the late, great “Voice of Rugby”, Bill McLaren?
That’s the premise of Steps for Sporting Memories. They do cover several sports, but rugby is one of the most popular. The idea is that you walk a certain distance, and as you travel, you hit milestones.
Each milestone represents a different rugby great, and once you hit that milestone, you can access their talk. Walking 46km to hear Matt Dawson may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is an impressive range of rugby greats from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. All with fascinating insights, anecdotes, and (in Bill McLaren’s case) wonderful voices.
The walk is free, but they ask you to consider donating some money to the Sporting Memories Foundation.
What to do next?
If any of these interest you, consider how you will measure your steps and distance. We mentioned Fitbits earlier, but these can be pricey (although excellent). Your mobile phone is a great option, too, as there are numerous step-counting apps you can use.
You will also need a good pair of walking boots or running shoes if you're doing the Couch to 5K challenge. Whatever you are doing, stay safe, keep an eye on the weather forecast before embarking on long journeys, and make sure you fully get into the spirit of each challenge!