Training for the Bob Graham

The training schedule below is aimed at runners. If you are a walker and fancy your chances then also have a look at this page.

Many if not most of those who attempt the Bob Graham Round come from a running background and really only need to modify their training towards the demands of the round itself. For those people, six months is probably enough to increase the intensity and duration of training, but for those who are generally fit but aren't regular runners then something like a full year is more realistic to get yourself into shape.

Aiming for a longer training period (say two years) is probably slightly counter-productive in that the goal of actually setting out on the round is too far away and maintaining focus for that length of time is not something most people can do. Those who can do so are usually trained athletes anyway who wouldn’t need such a long training period in the first place.

Training Overview

Previously this page prescribed a rather punishing training schedule that several people, including myself(!), found a bit excessive. Thus there is now a more general overview of training with the intention of providing hints at what is needed for you to modify according to your personal situation, strengths and weaknesses.

The list below is generated according to the date of your intended attempt (use the calculator) or 0000hrs on the closest Saturday to midsummer’s day if you have not decided on a specific starting date and time. The training is based on three stages beginning six months prior to the date of :

If you are aiming for a full year of training then increase the time allocated to the first stage but precede this with a period of getting used to becoming a runner.

Distance Training

The Bob Graham Round is approximately sixty six miles in length, roughly 2 1/2 marathons in distance. If it were on flattish roads then it would not be too difficult to train for, however the route is mostly off-road and involves being able to travel across a variety of different terrain.

A good weekly base is needed to begin training: somewhere in the region of 25 - 30 miles per week would be a good starting point, though many runners will already be doing more than this. You can then begin to slowly increase the mileage. Increasing mileage too quickly often leads to injury. If you don’t run as your main sport then use the first three months or so to increase your mileage to the above base level, after all you are likely to be continuing in your existing sports at least until the BGR bug strikes and you start training entirely for it!

Long distance training runs on the fells do not need to be done at a race pace, you are aiming to build up stamina so go at a steady pace and try to develop an efficient style of moving over uneven ground.

There is no real need to follow the road running advice of aiming for several runs of around 2/3rds of the overall distance as this will just tire you out unneccessarily and it will take nearly as long to recover from such a run as from the attempt itself. A reasonably common approach is to run each of the individual legs then combine a couple to get longer runs of around 25 - 30 miles in.

In order to provide a bit of variety try not to do all your distance training on the route of the round itself. In recent years the line has taken a bit of a battering, so once your recce runs are out of the way it is preferable to make up your own routes. These can be in the Lakes but should be on more sustainable paths. There are also the various shorter routes to be found on the Gofar site and there are also the LDWA events, though these often have lower amounts of ascent/descent.

Ascent & Descent Training

This is the biggest difference between most runs and the Bob Graham Round - there is over 27,000ft of ascent and descent to contend with and without adequate preparation it is this additional strain on the legs (particularly the quadriceps) that will cause most problems.

An oft-quoted training target is 10,000ft of climbing per week. Some people get by with less than this whereas others do quite a bit more, in some cases a lot more!

One point to note here is that quite a few climbs on the round are big and without having access to similar sized climbs it is quite difficult to train for the constant effort they require. However any hill-training will pay benefits.

Try and find slopes of differing steepness on which to train. While the general effort will translate across different slopes, the techniques for steep ascents and descents are quite different to those for shallower gradients. Rocky or rough inclines are also worth seeking out to get used to the uneven footfall required.

Ultimately though any effort in this area is worth doing - one successful contender did most of his climbing training by going up and down the stairs of a London tower block!