6 way to get the most out of a training camp
Spring is here, training is in mid-flow and people are thinking about / will be attending a training camp.
Their goal; to top up their fitness, practice some skills, learn and to have a break from home life – and, probably, the weather!
To help any of you that are planning to attend a training camp, here are our recommendations for getting the best out of your trip.
Enjoy it and relax!
Whilst you may be on a training camp (to train), use the experience of being somewhere different and warm to enjoy the scenery and culture (village coffee stops, etc) to help absorb the benefits of being there!
Don’t get too focused on the training that you miss the chance to have fun and relax – you’ll soon be home and not be able to relax then!
Use the time to catch up on sleep, you can gain a lot simply from doing this, and staying in bed is acceptable!
Don’t do too much unless you’ve prepared
Just because you are away from home and work, with more time at your disposal, it doesn’t mean you should train all the time. More is NOT better if you aren’t ready for it.
If you know you are going away and plan to increase the training volume whilst on camp, build your training volume in the weeks before so your body is ready for it. This can be difficult to do if you have to work extra to warrant time away.
For example, if your train 10 hours a week at home, but then plan to get 20 hours in on a camp, your body will not react well! Within a few weeks of returning home there will be a high chance you will sustain an injury or pick up an illness or, worse still, a virus.
The better option would be to train 14-15 hours, or to build your training volume from 10 hours towards 15 hours in the 3-4 weeks leading up to the camp.
We see it happen, which is why we hold back our camp attendees. They can opt to go for an extra swim, bike or run around the planned schedule, but they are the ones that return home and have issues!
Build you AEROBIC base
The extra time you do have on the training camp should be spent building your aerobic base/fitness. Getting in the aerobic miles, with one key speed/strength session in each discipline over a week, so that you leave with a top up of what you went to achieve – fitness.
Training aerobically (at low intensity) is advisable for anyone going to hot, humid or high (altitude) locations – these climate changes really will impact your ability to train. Since it takes 14-21 days to adapt to these environments (and you’re unlikely to be there that long), make sure you train easy in these environments if you are used to cold, dry and sea level conditions!
Hydration and fuelling practice
Due to the increased hours of training (on the bike especially), it will be a perfect opportunity to perfect your hydration and fuelling strategy. If you are a long-distance triathlete (middle distance upwards), use the longer bike rides to check that your electrolyte tabs, gels, foods, etc work well with you.
Learn from it
Aim to learn something while on your training camp. Whether you go to a coached camp, a group camp (with friends) or you go somewhere on your own, you can learn things.
Listen to, and question, the coaching team so you get answers, tips and tricks on how you might perform better.
Your peers may have useful tips and tricks that they learnt from their coach or from past experiences – so listen and experiment, see if it works for you too.
Training on your own is perfect for triathlon – it’s a solo event! Being in a different place, away from the distractions of home life, in warmer climates and outdoors, can allow you to become more in tune with your body. Listen to it when you train and assess what works and what should be altered to get the best out of yourself.
Go with like-minded people
Heading away with people who want the same result and won’t compete every session will drastically increase the physical and mental benefits of training away from home.
Remember, even if everyone going is doing the same race, it doesn’t mean everyone should do the same training intensity / duration. Age, gender, training hours per week, racing / training history, etc all need to be factored in. Establish your objectives and training goals and stick to them – everyone else should also have their own personal points.
Sessions in confined areas are idea for groups – establish a loop route and everyone repeats the loop for the time and at the intensity they need to. For example, on our camps we have the group perform warm up and cool down routines together and then we prescribe an individual session for each triathlete for the main part of the training. Some may repeat the section 10 times, others 8, others 20, but everyone works to their individual level and everyone gets the same training effect.
Don’t let your ego (or others) take over and ruin your training effect! Whether you are going with friends or joining a camp with strangers, showing off and “beasting” yourself will limit your gains and lead to the post camp injury / illness mentioned earlier.
To summarise, there is a lot you can do and learn from a training camp. Take advantage of your time away from home life, the climate, the chance to learn your body, and hone your race strategies.
DON’T be too ambitious with your time, make sure the training slots in with your current training levels and aim to leave the camp trained but not tired. When you get home, you should be able to carry on where you left off, not need a second holiday to recover or a week later get ill or injured!