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Big Strong Hearts: Training Tips for your Charity Challenge

  • There is a scientific difference between training well for physical challenges and training really well for physical challenges. Luckily, you also don’t need to be on an elite athlete training programme to make the jump.

    In this guide I’ll share my 3 best tips for approaching any physical charity challenge, taken from my own training as an Ultra-Marathon Cyclist.

    1. Know your heart


    People who run marathons for charity, don’t just have a big heart metaphorically, they are also likely to have a big heart literally. Generally your body pumps blood round your body efficiently in one of two ways.

    1. Distance athletes like marathon runners develop a larger heart through training, so the amount of blood pumped with one beat will be slightly more.
    2. Athletes who have a strength focus will have a physically smaller heart, but the walls of the heart will be more muscular, so they pump blood with more force.

    Of course the ideal scenario is to have both size and muscle, so balance out your training with some strengthening exercises, or endurance exercise depending on your challenge. The only thing to be wary of for endurance athletes is not to carry excess muscle weight. For runners, planking is great because it works your core without adding too much muscle weight onto your legs.

    2. Don’t get injured

    The majority of muscle injuries are entirely preventable and the more you look after your muscles and joints, the better condition you’ll be in for your challenge.
    The first tip here is obvious, make sure you warm up. It can be difficult if you lead a busy life, but it’s worth every minute. Secondly, stretching will help to prevent muscle tears.

    Make sure you stretch before you train and after, as each has its own purpose.

    1. Stretching prior to training makes your muscles more malleable. Think about the idea of stretching an elastic band to its limit when it’s cold – your muscles work in a very similar way. 
    2. Stretching after training has a warming effect on your muscles. This helps with circulation and takes away toxins like lactic acid that will have built up during your training. This makes you less likely to cramp after exercise. Drinking plenty water also helps with this.

    3. Remember why you’re doing your challenge

    While physical strength is all well and good, remembering why you’re doing your challenge in the first place can really help - not only with training, but also during the toughest parts of your challenge. When you’re almost at breaking point, a bit of inspiration can really help you get through the most painful moments.

    Keeping your goal in mind will give you will power on those cold mornings when you need to go out and train. It’s not easy to get up and train, when you’re curled up warm in your bed. But thinking of the end result and why you’re raising the money in the first place always helps. Just think mind over matter!


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