Triathlon camps are all the rage these days. Triathlon groups around the country are offering specialized camps to get you ready for that big long course event. There are 1 day mini-camps, more common 2-3 day weekend camps and even week long camps. Some are in your back yard and others hosted on the very same trails as some of the popular 70.3 or Ironman events. Each boasts informative seminars along with long professionally lead and supported workouts. So why should you go?
GETTING AWAY: The number one reason to go to a training camp is to get out of the normal routine and really focus on your training for a few days. This is why you should look for a camp that is far enough away that you cannot sleep at home. It’s difficult to simulate what it’s going to feel like on race day when you’re trying to pack in your workouts around your regular schedule. At camp, there is no schedule except the training schedule. There are no pressures around the training schedule. You are not negotiating when’s a good time to get the workout in. You’re not at risk of skipping the workout because something pops up to get in the way. You’re committed. The focus is clear. And with this clarity you can really let yourself work!
WORKOUTS: The number one draw of the camps is going to be the workouts. At no other time will you find the same group of people planning a series of long and/or intense workouts together in a short period of time. Athletes training for Half or Full Ironman events know the value of long brick workouts and of training in a fatigued state. Do you often swim and bike and run all in one day? How about two days in a row? Camps provide each other support and motivation to push through the long workouts.
EDUCATION: Camps always include a few sit-down information sessions. You will hear from experienced athletes, coaches or even pro’s on topics such as: race week prep, race day nutrition, training and periodization, race day logistics, mental training, bike maintenance, transition, power training, training to run, and so many other topics. The education is often built right into the workouts as well. On the long ride, coaches are there to offer tips on pacing, cadence and power. The open water swims are a chance to practice mass starts, sighting, drafting, positioning, all under the watchful guidance of a coach. And if your camp run is at the end of the day, the coach will be there to help you as you get in touch with the difficulty of final leg of a long course triathlon.
SUPPORT: Campers are always supported. Many of us will sign up to do a long bike rally or other event in order to get some “catered workouts” into our schedule. Camps are multi-day catered workouts. A well organized camp will provide not only SAG support, but water and drop bag support as well. In addition to in-workout support, campers are supported with a sensible schedule and planned meal times. There may even be opportunities to get a massage or take care of some testing (lactate, body fat, power) during camp.
RECOVERY: I cannot stress the importance of the recovery during a multi day camp enough. The workouts, educational sessions, and meals will end early enough for you to retreat to your room and get a solid night of rest before diving in again. There are no late night dates, no happy hours, no dishes to do, no kitchen to clean. When the schedule ends, your job is to rest and get ready for tomorrow.
I encourage everyone training for a long course event to put a camp on your schedule. To find training camps, visit trifind.com or active.com, or visit the website of your favorite local training club.
For the FitTrac camp – visit http://www.fittrac.com/camps/ironmancamp/