Words by Alana Levin of Thomas Endurance Coaching
We often hear of the pros participating in winter and spring training camps with the goal of refining their fitness for the upcoming season. More often than not these camps are in far-flung corners of the world, and are organized by professional team managers and crew. If you’re not one of these pros, and can’t access world-class training facilities year-round, there can still be lots of value in hosting a self-guided training camp. As a multi-sport athlete, the time between the end of race season and the beginning of the build-up to your next priority event is critical. By organizing a training camp you can use this time to improve your limiters and accelerate fitness.
Define Your Goals: It’s All in the Details
The first step in any training camp should be to define what you hope to get out of this focused training time. Through a thorough post-season review you can identify where it is you excelled in training and racing, as well as what you need to work on. Your discoveries during this review are a great place to start to build your training camp. Maybe you need to add more volume early in the year to increase endurance and stamina, or maybe you need more intensity at race-specific durations? Findings like these are what you should use to inform and define your clear objectives.
Next, use your clearly defined goals to decide on the location of your camp. The training grounds you use, and what’s available to you, can have a big impact on the types of training you’re able to accomplish. Think through things such as training at altitude, access to hills, flat roads, tracks, traffic, pool vs. open water, indoor training environment, etc. Ensuring that the location of your camp will be able to facilitate your desired outcome is critical to the success of any camp.
Who will be attending the camp? When we think of camps we more than likely think of a team or group environment, but that can be hard to manage from a logistics perspective. Again, think back on your goals and decide if a group will help you reach them. You can execute a training camp as a solo athlete, or you might reach out to a local triathlon club, coach, or team to inquire about group training opportunities. Along these same lines, it’s important to consider things like lodging. Will you train at home or away? Looking into prices and packages if you’re looking to get away is critical. Also, consider things like is there a kitchen, access to meal prep areas, restaurants, fitness facilities, grocery stores, massage therapists, access to medical care if needed, quiet space to relax/recover, etc. There’s no right or wrong way. It’s all about what works for you.
Training Camp Execution
Now that you’ve defined your goals and the logistics are ironed out it’s time to get to work. One of the best ways to make a camp successful is to plan your workouts ahead of time. Everything from what the focus of each day will be, to the routes you’ll be running and riding. Once you’ve found your ideal bike routes sync them with your ELEMNT to ensure there’s no second-guessing yourself, or stopping to look at maps on your long rides. It’s also a good idea to plan any specific interval workouts ahead of time. You can also load those into your ELEMNT so all you have to do is gear up and ride when the time comes. You should take this same approach to your running and swimming. Looks ahead at open swim times for local pools, or the weather if you’re going to be doing open-water swims. Check with local tracks to see if there’s time for you to get a workout in, or look for running paths that allow for uninterrupted sessions. The more time you put into the planning, the more you’ll get out of your camp.
Want to learn what is entailed in training and preparing for a triathlon?
If you’re in need of a few workouts to get you started here’s a few go-to’s to help you. Remember, what you focus on for each discipline should be based on your individual goals and expectations, but these are good all-around sessions to help improve form, efficiency, and strength.
1000 Easy: Hard Alternating
This is a continuous swim – no rest after lengths from start to finish
10 lengths Easy, 2 lengths Hard
8 lengths Easy, 2 lengths Hard
6 lengths Easy, 2 lengths Hard
4 lengths Easy, 2 lengths Hard
2 lengths Easy, 2 lengths Hard
4×8 Minutes @ SSLT
Warm-Up: 20 minutes @ 50-60% of FTP
Repeat 4 Times:
Hard: 8 Minutes @ 89-92% of FTP
Easy: 3 Minutes # 50-60% of FTP
Cool Down: 15-20 Minutes @ 55-65% of FTP
Warm-Up: 15 Minutes @ 65-70% of Threshold HR
Repeat 2 Times:
Hard: 15 Minutes @ 90-95% of Threshold HR
Easy: 8 Minutes @ 65-70% of Threshold HR
Cool Down: 10-20 Minutes @ 70-75% of Threshold HR
Carving out time for a training camp, whether it’s with group or solo, can be a great way to focus on your limiters, gain fitness, and push yourself during a time when you might not otherwise be as focused. Make sure to define your goals clearly and carve out the time to work through the logistics. These two things will make or break the experience for you. Once it’s time to begin your camp stay focused on your goals, and balance your training with time for rest and recovery. The right amount of all of these elements will make for a successful camp no matter the location.
Alana Levin is a triathlon coach for TEC and has over 20 years of experience as a multi-sport coach and athlete. She’s a USA Triathlon certified coach and race director, along with a National Academy of Sports Medicine trainer. Her breadth of knowledge in the discipline of triathlon has enabled her to help athletes all over the globe reach their goals in everything from sprint to Ironman distance races. TEC provides expert level coaching to athletes of all ability levels and specializes in both a scientific and metrics-based approach to endurance sports. They guide athletes in all disciplines of both running and cycling. For more information on Alana and other coaches’ personal coaching and training plan options visit http://www.thomasendurancecoaching.com/. Check out their podcast “Endurance Minded” everywhere you get your podcasts.