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The Anatomy of a Training Camp
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Tuesday 10th May 2011


Tags  John Franklin  |  Training Camp  |  Tri Topia  |  Tri-topia


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Earlier this season we brought you the toughts of top triathlon coach Steve Trew on how to choose a training camp.

Following up on that, here we bring you the thoughts of top Age Group long distance athlete John Franklin on the elements that have made his recent training camp so positive. John has returned recently from two weeks in France at Tri-topia (www.tri-topia.com), the venue we first sent him to in 2009 to review (check that HERE). He enjoyed it so much that first time he has been back several times under his own steam since, and has now clocked up 10 weeks there over the past 18 months or so.

Did it work? Well, he won the Marshman Middle Distance Triathlon on Sunday (!), but the objective here is to outline some of the key elements John has learned from his training camp experiences, whether you are at the front of the field or making your first steps into the sport to make the most of your time away while training hard.


The Anatomy of a Training Camp

I have just returned from another fantastic couple of weeks at Tri-topia (www.tri-topia.com). Unlike last year I was working within a much shorter time frame and needed to get the biggest "bang for my buck" possible in 14 days of training. For those at the pointy end of age group racing, training camps provide a vital opportunity to train like professionals (even if only for a week or two at a time), and log some big mileage with even bigger recovery.

I shared my time there with a whole spectrum of people from complete novices to those looking to improve in their second season of racing and athletes who wanted to rediscover their love for the sport which had, for one reason or another, been lying dormant for some time. At the end of each day it was enlightening to listen to everyone's experiences and not only did we all learn something from each other but it made me realise that the ingredients for a successful camp are broadly the same whether you're hoping to complete your first sprint distance race or aiming for sub-9 at an Ironman (I'll manage it one day!).

Challenge

We all have limiters in our daily lives; time is the most obvious one, be it through work, family or social life we all have commitments which must take precedent over what is basically a hobby. Sometimes motivation is lacking and for the city dwellers amongst us basic geography can limit what is possible. A training camp is a place where all of these limiters ought to be shed allowing you to really push what you thought was possible. This can mean anything from your first open water swim, your longest ever ride or run or backing up your typical weekend workload for days without let up. During my two week stay, without exception, everyone managed something they hadn't done before with the support of the group and the help of Lee, Sam, Oli and Amy.

2010 and 2011 - A portrait of progression: Neil conquers his bonking demons!

Structure

Athlete's complete a hilly brick session, for some the first time they've run off the bike.From beginner to expert everyone at Tri-topia had a plan. I came with one courtesy of Alan "the sadist" Couzens but other guests were provided with one on arrival. For some people it was the first time they'd followed a plan rather than just doing what they felt like (which invariably meant a lot of one sport and not much of the other two). The structure provided people with a focus and targets and meant that after the week there was something to show for their efforts.

Recovery and Nutrition

I love food and Lee's cooking is one of the reasons I keep heading back to France but it's also the key stone when you're putting together the biggest training block of your season. For me this meant 30-hour weeks (which I'm happy to say meant I could stuff myself with French bread and Nutella until I turned into a baguette), but for those who were breaking into double figures for the first time rest and relaxation when not training is just as important. Regardless of experience, we all enjoyed our down time and cooling off in the Endless Pool when the mercury topped 30 degrees.

Enjoyment

The main thing everyone I met had in common is that we were on a training camp by choice, in our precious holiday, for fun... and it showed. Despite everyone enduring tough sessions the passion for the sport (fostered as always by Lee), shone through even the most painful grimace. In the 10 weeks I've spent at TriTopia since my first visit in 2009 I have had the privilege of meeting some amazing people who through their thoughts and actions have motivated me to go out and strive to be the best athlete I can be. Even when my own passion is flagging (as it inevitably does when you're suffering the chaffage of several thousand pedal rotations in a chamois you failed to break in), seeing people who had never complete a triathlon finish a sprint distance training session or watching a first time open water swimmer finish 1km made me suck it up and smile while I pushed my body through another 100 miles on the bike (thanks again Alan!).

Lee, Sam, the TriTopia van and some happy campers pre-final day sprint triathlon.

The race season is nearly here but regardless of how my season pans out, I, like the majority of my fellow guests, will be heading back to TriTopia in 2012 for more.


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