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Kenny Smith's training tips for Kili

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Kenny Smith, one of our most loyal supporters, is currently busy training and fundraising in preparation for his Kilimanjaro trek in October 2013. Here he shares some of his training tips:

Firstly you do need to have some sort of fitness under your belt. Running and cycling play a big part in my training. Secondly you need the right sort of gear! Get some good quality, well fitted boots and socks. Whether it's running a marathon, trekking across the Sahara or climbing to the summit of the world's tallest free-standing mountain, look after your feet and your feet will look after you. Training is like building a house, start at the foundations (your feet) and build it up from there!

Because fitness levels and stamina vary in people, this is my personal plan and should only be used as a guide. I train as hard as I can, because I feel this will make completing the challenge easier. Now I'm not your average athlete; okay so I've run the London Marathon 8 times and cycled to Paris but I'm 42 years old and cruise around the 13.6 stone mark!

Physical preparation

I think that you really want to be capable of running two to three times a week, around 3 to 4 miles is enough for each run, and at the weekend you should be walking around 7 miles. I don't have that many hills near me so I use a step machine once a week, usually around 45 to 50 minutes at a time. If you have hills then use them. I have booked up to do the Three Peaks Challenge as part of my training.

I train with around a 30lb pack on, which is over the top but I like to think if someone was struggling on the trek then I could carry their pack without any bother to me. Also I recommend a training app for your phone, it helps you with progress and varies your training.

Cycling is an all round fitness activity, I try to cycle to and from work each day (12 miles) and cycle around 40 miles at the weekend. I also do karate mid-week which is helping with my cardio work.

Mental preparation

I find you don't just need to be physically fit but mentally strong too. Your head plays such a big part in big challenges, so it's good to have a clear head and really work on your mental strength. When I'm out for a long run, I don't tell myself "you've got another 15 miles to go!", I break it down into segments as this way you don't get disheartened. For instance when your legs are tired tell yourself "right get to the next mile then have a break or slow things down", and normally by the time you get there you find the strength to carry on, so then you set yourself another goal and before you know it you're back home enjoying a lovely shower!

Another thing to remember is that you are training for a challenge – it's not meant to be easy, if it was easy everyone would be doing it! I personally like pushing myself to the limit but there is nothing more important with any training then resting. Rest days are just as important as your long run or long walk and resting is your bodies way of refuelling. Also listen to your body - if it starts to hurt then stop and get it sorted out!

Diet plays a big part in training too: if you put the right fuel in your car it runs sweet and our bodies are the same. As the saying goes "you are what you eat!"

One tip I have gratefully received is to slow down! To do this I go out walking up hills and breathe only through my nose. It sounds easy, but give it a go – it's very hard but does help you to slow down. This is quite important as this also helps with altitude sickness. And the other tip was just to enjoy every minute of it!

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