There is nothing quite like focus to take you to the next level, no matter what sport or fitness endeavours you are embarking on. This is the singular reason I love going on training camps, although there are a few other highly valid reasons for this, especially during northern hemisphere winters!
After the so-called ‘off-season’ – usually characterised by a little too much Christmas indulgence – there’s no better feeling than to kick start your training and turn your back on inclement weather by heading to sunnier climes for some big mileage. Usually in February, I head off to Lanzarote for a training camp – the consistent warm temperatures, quiet roads, and wealth of sports accommodation provides the perfect training environment for some head-down hard work, without the distraction of daily life.
The removal of not only work commitments, but even what I call ‘life admin’ like running errands, maintaining a house (or family for some!), and catching up on social occasions, leaves a lot of space for training. And probably more importantly, recovering in-between training.
This is super important for so many reasons, but primarily because training camps tend to act as an injection of big volume training. We use the opportunity of warm weather and more time to lay the foundations of aerobic fitness in preparation for the race season to come. Getting this all-important base conditioning in is a great way to boost fitness early on in the season, upon which you can then layer higher quality work when time is more limited and life commitments are more demanding.
Time can also be saved by reducing the friction of the ‘commute’ to the swimming pool, especially if you are at a training base where there is a pool and/or gym on-site. You can get more bike miles in without worrying about compromising health by spending prolonged periods of time outside in cold, wet weather, and you can use the downtime in-between sessions to optimise your recovery without having to rush around feeling like you’re squeezing everything in within an inch of its life.
Mentally, being able to focus completely on your training without other stuff taking up your mental energy, also helps to facilitate quality training time. Your energy is concentrated into your training to the extent that all you need to think about is your next training session and what you’re going to eat. It literally is an 'eat, sleep, train, repeat' cycle – and it feels amazing.
What you gain from a training camp in terms of physical adaptation and a confidence boost in terms of your fitness will really set you up for the upcoming season. Although the training volume isn’t usually realistic to maintain once you get back to ‘normal life’, as long as you can keep your training consistent post-camp, you will carry through those gains into race season. If only camp life was forever!
About the author: Amy Kilpin is an elite competitive triathlete and Sundried ambassador.