In recent years there has been a boom in the participation of fitness challenges. Whether this is marathons, triathlons, or obstacle courses, there is now more opportunity than ever for those who want to push themselves to the limit. If you’re new to the world of fitness challenges, however, it can seem a little daunting. Which should I choose? How do I train for a challenge? What sort of time should I expect to achieve? The answers to these questions are unique to each individual but in this, the first of three blog posts, I will give you some ideas, expected completion times, and expected training requirements.

If you are new to the world of fitness challenges, I would recommend starting small. Sure, if you would like to dive in at the deep end and take on something bigger then great! But I would recommend creating a solid foundation on which to build. You have a few options for your first challenge and the one you choose will depend on a combination of your current fitness level, available time, and preferred sports or events. Part of the process of taking on a challenge is to improve enough to complete it, so while your current fitness level will play a role, bear in mind that you will hopefully improve to complete the task. However, the challenge you choose based on interest is key. I have seen people decide to take on a challenge without really wanting to do it. If you have no interest in a particular sport or event then choose something else. This may seem common sense but social expectations, media messages, and peer pressure can sometimes win out. Marathons, for example, maybe an iconic challenge but that doesn’t mean it will be right for you. Below is my list of beginner fitness challenges.



A common starting point in fitness challenges is the 5km run. If you’re someone who has never run or is in the process of losing weight, this challenge could be perfect. Running is a great cardiovascular exercise and will give a superb foundation for any future challenge. If you’re slightly fitter, then the 10km run could be a better starting point.

  • Events: 5km or 10km run
  • Completion times: 5km – 20-30 minutes, 10km – 40-60 minutes
  • Training requirements: 8-12 weeks



If running isn’t your thing, or you have physical barriers to running, cycling may be a great alternative. Cycling places less pressure on the joints and can be done socially while exploring the countryside. Building up to a 30-mile bike ride will be something that stretches you without running the risk of pressure on joints.

  • Events: 30-mile bike
  • Completion times: 90-150 minutes
  • Training requirements: 12-20 weeks



Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise available. It tones muscles, helps strengthen your cardiovascular system, and can help you shift weight. If you have never swum before, or are improving, setting yourself the goal of completing a 1.5km swim or 60 lengths of a 25-meter pool will be a great starting point.

  • Events: 1.5 km swim
  • Completion times: 20-40 minutes
  • Training requirements: 8-12 weeks



A triathlon is a multi-sport event composed of swimming, cycling, and running. There are numerous distances but the best place to start is a Super Sprint triathlon which is a 400m swim, 6 miles bike, and 1.6-mile run.

  • Events: Super Sprint Triathlon
  • Completion times: 50-90 minutes
  • Training requirements: 12-16 weeks


Obstacle Race

Obstacle races have become hugely popular in recent years as a more interesting alternative to the typical running, cycling, or swimming. The Spartan Sprint is a great starting point at only 5km in length with no clock or competition.

  • Events: Spartan Sprint Race
  • Completion times: 40-90 minutes
  • Training requirements: 12-16 weeks



The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge takes place on the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough, usually in this order, and in under 12 hours. These peaks form part of the Pennine range and encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

  • Events: Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge
  • Completion times: 12 hours
  • Training requirements: 8-12 weeks