Countdown to the Fitbit Fifty

There are fewer than 5 days until our 12 challengers (pictured above) take on the mammoth task of running and cycling in two teams from London to Edinburgh and back in just 50 hours.

Now they’ve had a chance to meet each other and get a few weeks of serious training and expert advice under their belts, how are they feeling about the event? We caught up with them to find out.

How Much Training?!

For most of the challengers, training has involved between ten and 20 hours’ running, cycling and strength work each week. Jeremiah O’Mahoney has also been working on his core strength with a personal trainer, which has really helped on the bike, while Adam Gamble has just completed his first Ironman, in Weymouth, and is hoping all that transferable training will help him feel strong for the Fitbit Fifty.

For Natalie Doble, meanwhile, it’s been a case of little and often. “I try to do something nearly every day, even if it’s a home workout or class at the gym instead of running or cycling,” she says. “I’m trying to do as much training as I can without overdoing it and risking injury.”

Rick Jenner’s training sounds like the most fun, though. He’s been on holiday for a couple of weeks, so has been throwing some windsurfing and sea swimming into the mix.

SPONSORED: The Fitbit Fifty Training Plan

Fitting It in

Most our challengers spend their weekends in the saddle or pounding the pavements anyway, but increasing their training for the Fitbit Fifty combined with diminishing daylight hours can mean it can be a struggle to fit sessions in. How are they coping?

“If you really want something, you’ll always make the time for it,” says Dean Ramsden, whose time-keeping sounds particularly brutal. “I’ve been doing some 3am and 5am rides, although getting out of bed has been tough.”

Ozzie Wolf’s training sounds a bit more civilised. “I try to run and ride to work every day,” he says. “That way I keep my training hours up and it doesn’t feel like I’m doing any extra. I’ve had to prioritise training at the weekends and have missed a few social engagements, though. I’ve been getting abuse from friends for not drinking and ‘being boring’ but I’m terrible on a hangover. If I want a productive session the next day, I have to resist the temptation of a beer or three.”

Quite impressively, Gamble has managed to fit in his stag do and wedding while training – “It’s a good job my new wife is so supportive,” he says – and Holly Seear has been juggling work and training around her son’s first week at big school. Being a cycling coach helps, though, as she’s always kitted up and ready to go when she gets a spare minute.

O’Mahoney has his own way of dealing with time constraints. “I work crazy hours in the City and was struggling to fit long rides in, so I booked a last-minute flight to Lanzarote and am spending five days here swimming, cycling, running and eating an enormous amount. It’s much better than getting dizzy doing laps of Regent’s Park.”

The Side Effects

The amount of training required to run and cycle from London to Edinburgh and back again has its pros and cons, according to Will Lockwood. “The constant tiredness and muscle soreness can get wearing,” he says, “but being able to eat all the time is awesome.”

“Having spent nine months running around the coast of the UK, I’m really enjoying doing something completely different and having the variety of training for two different disciplines,” says Elise Downing. “My thigh muscles seem to be growing at an alarming rate and bursting through all of my shorts. I’m also sleeping amazingly well. My friends and family are bored of me telling them exactly how many hours’ sleep I’ve had according to my Fitbit, but I find it fascinating.”

“I’ve broken most of my PBs on the bike,” says Gamble, “and I broke my local trail-run record by more than two minutes the day before my wedding. However, that could have had more to do with the nerves.”

Nicola Noble, a competitive duathlete, has spent the past couple of months knuckling down to finish a degree in occupational therapy, which meant her usual high volume of training was reduced to just three to five hours a week. Now she’s dialled it up again, her Parkrun times have been dropping and she’s not the only one who’s seeing the changes. “I had a disappointing race at the World Championships and my boyfriend was getting used to me speaking negatively about my ability,” she says. “But he says he’s noticed that I’m happier now and is proud to see how focused and motivated I’ve become. I’m enjoying having a goal and something to train for again.”

Injury Concerns

On the whole, a sensible approach to training has paid dividends when it comes to avoiding injury, although there have been a couple of problems. “I managed to trap a nerve in my neck, which left me walking around like a robot,” says Gamble. “However, with a bit of physio – which basically felt like someone trying to pull my head off – and a lot of lying on the floor, I’m back on it.”

“I got viciously attacked by an enormous bee,” says Seear. “It stung me in the shoulder while running. I pulled the sting out, but I started to swell up and was nearly crying in pain. My first Fitbit Fifty injury!” Fingers crossed it’s the last.

The most worrying injury, however, is to Ozzie Wolf. “Training was going well until two weeks ago, when I ran a local half marathon and tweaked my ankle. I’ve done some light training on it and hopefully it should be OK, but it’s frustrating not being able to get the long runs in. I’m hoping all my small niggles hold out for the challenge.”

Feeling Ready?

So now they know a bit more about what’s in store, do our challengers reckon they’ve got this one in the bag?

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, but I’m not going to underestimate what’s ahead of us,” says Ramsden. “It won’t be easy by any means,” agrees Mike Jones. “It’s going to be a very tough weekend but we’ll support each other through it.”

Doble is still a bit incredulous about the fact that the Fitbit Fifty is actually happening. “When I was training for a 10K obstacle race in February, it seemed like such a hard challenge,” she says. “I never dreamed I’d be doing something as huge as this, let alone feeling like I’d be able to do it!”

Lockwood is also raring to go, with a couple of caveats. “I have a healthy level of respect for how difficult it’s going to be,” he says. “The distances aren’t to be sniffed at and the sleep deprivation is going to be very challenging. But that’s where the joy of the team comes in, and I’m excited to see whether or not the challenge is possible. After all, we’ve only got ourselves to blame for getting into it.”

The Fitbit Fifty begins the morning of Friday 30th September. Follow their progress with the hashtag #FitbitFifty

Charlotte Thomas

Charlotte Thomas is a freelance journalist and health and fitness blogger at Lunges & Lycra.