Coach, if I can’t go to camp or train in a group, am I missing out?
Every off season stories permeate through the Triathlon media about how great camps are, or the need to train in a group to push to even greater heights? Their objective to create buzz and to sell products.
Now I hold camps, last year personally I ran fifteen in total. Of those fifteen, only two were camps where real work was done. These were the camps that were dedicated to hard graft! When were they held? In September, for those getting ready for Kona, or for those with races in early November to also to be ready to go for the last blast of races in their season.
‘But coach what about the winter warm weather camps that we hear so much about?’ Well at Trisutto we don’t do that ridiculousness in the off season. Our camps are educational. We run five comprehensive lectures that are must attend. We do six compulsory sessions, covering each of the three disciplines, so I can view techniques. We have five optional sessions that go with that. Do you have to attend? No definitely not.
‘But coach why would I go?’ We go to get out of the cold. We go to learn what Triathlon really is. We don’t do what most other camps do. ‘What is that?’ Blindly smash themselves every day thinking that it will improve them through sheer weight of tiredness.
I’m sure many of you have been on these camps, but what is not advertised is this. The amount of injuries accumulated by tripling bike mileage in camp, doubling run mileage of back home, and sore shoulder syndrome by Sunday night because whilst I swim two or three times a week at home, in camp we swam seven! Of course all done racing the guy next to me who I’ve never met in my life, don’t know his abilities, his heart rates or fitness levels. But I know one thing, we are on holidays and we are at camp, the sun is shining, so I’m going to war with anybody near me – in everything!
Welcome to the normal Triathlon camp! If you can still eat your third portion of pasta taken from the buffet with a fork then you are soft and haven’t worked hard enough at camp.
‘But Coach, I got Kona in October’ Here is a news flash – so has the Angry Bird, and she isn’t in the kick off camp I’m running at this very moment. Why? Because I hope she is sitting at home doing normal things and resting, as this year we really going after Kona! I can’t re-iterate enough, that starting too early makes sure the last races of the season are not what you were after.
This was rammed home to me by a couple of newbies in pro camp this week. ‘Coach, you didn’t name a time and meeting point for tomorrows morning run?’ That’s right was the answer, we are all adults, we do our own thing, were you given instructions? ‘Yes coach.’ Well go and do it at your own pace!
And there in lies what I keep trying to communicate. Ironman is not short distance. Where once I trained sprint athletes they did certain sessions as a group, we still did less than most groups together but we did fast work together pushing hard. We swim together now only as a meeting point. Within that group there may be three to five different swim sessions at the same time.
I’ll point out once again, that Nicola Spirig and Daniela Ryf might have ridden together two times in any sessions requiring hard effort, or ran twice together in any session done with some zip in the past two years. Not two days. Not two weeks. Not two months, but two years. However, yes I do train both of them.
I put this caveat for people who have never been to my squad training. It’s dangerous to your health and thus performance, in reading articles about ‘what Brett Sutton’s group do’. They really have no idea, but perception replaces reality. Ask an athlete that has attended any of my own camps. Ask if everybody trains together pushing harder. Ask is Brett Sutton on the pool deck screaming for athletes to go harder? Is he with stop watches calling out times on any interval? Ask someone that has been there!
Our success is about knowing when to push and when not to. It is about knowing Ironman is a personal sport. Where training outside of your numbers may make you feel good, remember pride comes before the fall, and fall you will, if you head to a camp and think drilling oneself is good for performance in 3 months time.
After the Super League Nicola was rested. She swam every second day with us working on another new swim stroke. Two full months later she left the pool and I said ‘Write that down as your second swim workout of this preparation as I was pleased with the stroke.’
What were all the other swims? Stroke work and preparation for when she is ready to start. That happened last Friday. Daniela kicks off on the 1st of February.
Are Camps a good idea? Camps are a splendid idea if you get in the sun and start an easy build up to your season. Smash fests for one week only to go back home to the cold and do one third of the work in the camp may be good for your ego, but does nothing for your season.
Just the way I see it.