When it’s cold outside and it’s the middle of winter the chance’s are you’re not massively inspired to be training. It’s likely to also be the off season so there’s also little to no racing to motivate you to train.
During this period It’s easy to fall off the training wagon and let your fitness regress. Resting is ok and recovery is important, but there is always the danger your fitness drops too low and may impact your ability to train and race fast in your future season.
The problem with loosing fitness over winter isn’t that you won’t ever get it back, it’s more that your might not have the time to get it back to cope with the level of training you want to do once the season finally begins.
A great solution for this and one I have been using for many years is to attend a pre season training camp (preferably but not essential) in a warm weather location.
Detaching yourself from your daily obligations and spending 1-2 weeks exclusively focusing on your fitness (without having bad weather as an excuse) creates a great platform to kick start your fitness and begin to build a foundation for the coming season.
To make a training camp a success
- Choose an objective
- Pick an objective for the camp as this will dictate the area or country you go to and the facilities you need to have close by.
- e.g If you want to increase your swim volume and train consistency then having a pool near by is more essential than being in a warm climate. However if you also want to build ocean swimming skills and confidence then you want to pick a location that is by the sea and has a warmer climate.
- Book your trip
- Locations with access to good facilities get booked quickly especially during the pre season month’s. So either book way in advance or join onto a training camp that is already established or organised in the area (normally you will pay a premium for this vs one self coached)
- Plan your daily regime
- Ask yourself how many hours are you currently training? and how much can your increase this by over a couple of weeks without burning yourself out. If you’re not training regularly then the focus should be on improving consistency rather than massively increasing the volume. But if you have been training constantly over winter then the focus of the camp could be in increasing your training volume
- How many sessions are you planning to do in a day? When is the optimal time of day to have each training session? and are the training facilities available at these times? if you are doing multiple sessions in a day you should have access near by to food and your bedroom to aid your recovery between sessions.
- Plan your individual sessions
- Every session should have a focus, take advantage of the new environment and do sessions which you may not normally have the time for or normally have access to the facilities.
- Having a purpose and objective for each session should build and contributes to your larger objective for the camp. It also ensures you get the most out of your time while you’re there.
- Track your progress
- Record your fitness levels at the start of the camp and monitor your performance throughout the camp. You will get more tired as the camp goes on so won’t necessarily see uplifts fitness until sometime after the camp has finished. Once the body has fully recovered.
- Maintain the momentum
- It’s great to have the time to focus on your fitness. If you don’t continue to build on this fitness once you return home then you will quickly lose the benefits of training your camp.
Below is an example of a recent pre season training camp at club La Santa in Lanzarote.
Club La Santa facilities include:
- 3x 50m Swimming Pools
- Sheltered sea water lagoon
- Free Bike hire and miles of mountainous roads
- Coastal running path and off-road trails
- Athletic Track
- Outdoor and Indoor Gym
- Shops/ Restaurants/ Accommodation on site
Objective 1: To train swim,bike, run consistently over two weeks and gradually build steady state aerobic fitness. To establish a strong endurance foundation for the start of the 2017 triathlon season.
Objective 2: To swim consistently and build aerobic endurance in the pool focusing on stroke efficiency.
A running injury meant it didn’t go exactly to plan but the lack of running was compensated with some additional swims and more focus on recovery.
Some images from the camp:
Olympic Pool at Club La Santa
Riding the Lava Fields
Defending back into La Santa
Drink Stop at the National Park
Ocean Swimming Training in the Atlantic
End of a swimming training session in the sun
Climbing out of La santa through the town of Soo
Training Camp’s don’t have to be abroad as long as you don’t rely on escaping bad weather like me. But the more detached you can be from your every day life the more focused you can be on the camp.