Tuesday 18 December 2018
Some of us only contemplate fitness activities roundabout January 1st each year - when our trousers no longer fit! For other people exercise is a welcome break but one that is difficult to incorporate into a busy routine. Whatever your situation, it is universally recognised that keeping fit has to be fun and rewarding or otherwise we drop it. So read on for a few ideas about how to find enjoyable solutions right here in the Chilterns - whether you're an expert or a beginner.
Let's start with some motivators; events you can build up to:
The Ibstone Circle is a challenging off-road 5km or 10km run around the stunning Wormsley Estate. It takes place on Sunday 14th April 2019 - so there's plenty of time to get ready! If that sounds like your particular version of a nightmare, remember there are rewards including finishers' medals, bacon rolls and even cake! The race is open to anyone over the age of 11; please follow the link for further details on entry fees and timing.
The Downley 5k this year is on Sunday 24th June. The course offers amazing views of Hughenden and 'Blue Bell' wood, before incorporating more challenging hills in the latter stages. All funds raised will go to the Downley School and The Downley Day Committee who offer grants to local organisations.
The Chilterns Chase starts in Ewelme on 9th June. You can choose to run 5k, 10k or 15k. This multi terrain course starts and finishes on the village Common and takes in footpaths, bridleways, woodland and some road sections. There are runs open to anyone from 13 years of age and over depending on the distance, and fees vary per race length and the age of the runner.
If you feel you need longer to prepare - or you want a follow up race later in the year - have a look at the 10k Bradenham Bolt, organised in October by the National Trust. Run the trail through hills, thrills and obstacles in the beautiful Chilterns countryside near West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. You can even bring your dog!
And now for the regular training...
If you'll need to put in some weekly hours in readiness for one of those challenging runs, or you just want regular exercise, think about joining a running club, walking association or walking group. Tring Running Club caters for all levels of ability and fitness and organises the Tring Ridgeway run every October.
For those interested in walking, The Ramblers Association has a number of local walking groups across the Chilterns which cater for different age-groups. Although people of all ages are welcome, Weekend Walkers aims particularly at 40s - 50s and Chiltern Young Walkers at 20s - 30s. There are weekly walks throughout the year and mid-week walks during the summer. Both groups offer social events as well as walks. Annual membership is around £35 but please view the websites for more details. The Ramblers Association also runs a 'Walking for Health' programme which is one of the most successful fully independent WfH groups in the country. Within the Chilterns The Goring Gap Health Walks meet in the Rectory Garden next to Goring Village Hall. Their Timetable covers mid week and weekend walks and welcomes all levels of walkers for free.
The Chiltern Society arranges 3 organised walks per week as well as social activities. For an annual membership of around £20, all events are discounted. In addition the Chiltern Society, ChilternsAONB and Visit Chilterns organise the bi-annual Chilterns Walking Festival which takes place next Spring from 18th May - 2nd June and again in the Autumn.
If you're a complete beginner...
So you're a beginner - no problem. The NHS provides an on-line week by week programme, designed to guide you through a 10 week training course that will take you from 'Couch to 5K'. Of course, the programme is designed to be followed anywhere in the country, but luckily for you Chilterns AONB website has its own interactive map, which means you can find short stile-free walks all round the beautiful Chilterns. For example, there is a fantastic level and scenic walk along the River Thames between the picturesque town of Henley and the village of Lower Shiplake. The Thames Path offers gentle walking for
all abilities, with wonderful views of the river winding its way through green meadows. Download the free guide for this and many other Chilterns walks and you'll not only reach your 5k goal, you'll also benefit from fresh air and wonderful scenery.