The season’s over, you’ve had some good results and are mulling over future challenges and
how to improve for next year. One way to improve, kick-start the season, or prepare for that big
event might be to try a Triathlon training camp. But what’s it all about? Isn’t it just for the elite?
A training camp is simply a trip away to focus on swimming, cycling, running, and relaxing with
a group of like-minded people. Triathletes can choose from organised camps that can include
coaching and support, or you can plan your own trip by renting suitable accommodation in a
good training location. Whether you’re on your own, in a group of 40, a complete beginner or an
experienced professional, there will be a training camp out there to suit you. A week away from
work focussed on training has numerous benefits.
Training camp – Physiological Benefits
For fitness to improve you need to increase the volume and/or intensity of exercise, and a typical
training camp might double the hours you would put in a regular week. However, as you’re not
fitting training around work it also allows double the recovery time. Getting the balance between
doing enough without going overboard is important to maximise benefits. Good coaches know
how to find the balance and can put together a schedule with the right mix of sessions. The warm
weather also allows you to train at a higher intensity earlier than you would be able to in a UK winter or spring. This might be particularly useful if you’re training for shorter events or a big event early season.
Triathlon training camp – Psychological Benefits
Psychological benefits are often linked to the feeling we get from escaping somewhere warm and
sunny and getting out of that winter kit. Knowing that you have a warm-weather week to look
forward to, can really help you get through the long winter. Training with other people and riding in
groups provides motivation and improves confidence.
Training Camps – Technique and Skills
Good bike skills make you a safer rider and provide performance benefits through increased
efficiency and faster descending speeds. Riding in new areas, over different terrains and in a group,
develop bike handling skills. This is particularly beneficial for anyone new to the sport.
Technique is important in triathlon, yet most of us are guilty of spending too much time clocking up the miles and not enough time refining how we do it. A training camp can provide the opportunity for technical input covering all three disciplines and allow you to put theory into practice. Some camp providers include video analysis, conditioning work, and sessions on running and swimming drills. Theory sessions can also be provided on how to plan training or tips on how to improve race performances.
I won’t be able to keep up! (or My partner won’t let me go!)
The two main reasons people cite for not going away are the fear that: 1. they won’t be able to keep
up with everyone else, or 2. their divorce papers will be waiting for them on their return. Of the
two, I would be more concerned about the latter, but the good news is that neither should stop you.
Hundreds of training camps are run every year and the trick is to make sure you find the right
one. Choosing a group of the right ability is important to maximise enjoyment and benefit. Camp
organisers will be happy to advise you on this. There are a number of beginner camps that cater for
all levels of fitness, so don’t worry, you won’t be left behind!
If you’re more worried about fitting a camp around family commitments then why not bring them
along? A lot of organised camps welcome families and children, who can play in the pool and visit
local attractions – you just need to save some energy to play with the kids when you get back. There are also an increasing number of camps based over a long weekend, making it more practical to fit around work and family commitments. If you would like to go away but don’t have any sporty friends then don’t worry. Many camps are for individuals or small groups and it’s common to not know anyone else before the trip. For many, part of the fun is meeting new like-minded people.
Triathlon training Camps – Where to Go
Mallorca and Lanzarote are the two most popular destinations for triathletes, but there are options
across Europe which offer the same weather conditions, with a wide variety of cycling and running
routes. Mainland Spain is the home of many professional cyclists who base themselves in areas
that offer a mix of terrain, with options for flat, hilly and mountain riding all from the same location.
Popular areas include Girona, the Costa Blanca, and along the south coast.
From April onwards France also becomes a popular destination. Offering miles of quiet country
roads and the added convenience of being able to drive from the UK, there are some excellent
triathlon specialists who know exactly what triathletes are looking for.
There are also an increasing number of camps being offered by coaches in the UK which can provide a valuable boost to training, with added convenience and at a lower cost.
So can you afford not to go?
If you enjoy training, exploring new places and sharing your experiences with others, you will love
going away on a training camp. It’s great fun, doesn’t have to be gruelling, and should be enjoyable
at the same time as hard work. If you are looking for ways to improve next season, put the bike
shop catalogue down for a while and why not start looking into training camps instead.
Article by Tom Cudmore of www.TrainingEscapes.com