Age group athletes attending our camps often find it astonishing that our professionals don't do a greater amount of work. 'OK, but what do they normally do?' being a common first up inquiry.
Our camps are different to what most have experienced in the past, in that apart from taking time to look at all the participants strokes, positions and run techniques we also follow the same training patterns of the pros for the week.
Yes, of course sometimes there is less work (and speed), but it's not uncommon to see our whole group do a 2km swim session and get out. Or a day where the entire training consisted of a long run in the morning with the second session being a spa. The subsequent confusion reinforces to me a key reason why we opened our training methodologies to the public in the first place. It has always astonished me how much overtraining there is within the sport of Ironman. It's endemic. Not just among pros, but just as much so among age group athletes. Every day I try to stress to those joining the camps that 'rhythm' and 'balance' should be the catch cry of all coaches – and not just in the swim, bike, run. In our training schedules we work to have a good balance of hard work and easy work. A lot of athletes comes here expecting the full on 'hell week', but that's not what we're about. When we work hard, we work very, very hard. But the point I'd make is that after very little is spoken about how much easy and active rest we do. It would seem that sometimes campers, when they take a week off work, just want to blast themselves into submission by piling on as much work as their body can take. Family and work are not around so they are free to let rip. The truth is their body can't take it. No-one's can. We try and educate here not by talking, but by demonstrating. Seeing is believing. Campers have seen the Angry Bird in the middle of her Ironman prep come onto the track and blast out 6 x 400s and just run off with barely 10 words to coach. Not too long after the Olympic champ turns up, smokes 4 x 400s then without a word looks at coach, nods, then leaves the scene. 'Where are the 40 x 400s we hear about?' Don't worry we do them too, but like all things there is a time and place. The day after was followed with 20 x 200s in the pool and a 2hr run soon after at 1800m. But it too was followed up with an active recovery. The point I want to reiterate is that there are times it's just as important to go slow and short, just as there's a time to go short and fast. If there's a message I can send to our campers this week it's that 'training camps' don't have to be epic in work to help you be a better triathlete in the long run. Indeed, it's the epic physical efforts that do more to shorten ones career. Rhythm and balance is your the ticket to the big show more than anything else.