Now that I've finished and survived 10 days of intense training under the New Mexico sun I thought it would be good to have a final analysis since many of you may be contemplating your own training camps. So here are some words of advice from a first timer:
Is it worth it?
Absolutely. Not only did I gain fitness, but confidence and friends. It was a great time. But don't go into a training camp thinking it's going to be a social hour. Everyone is there to train and consistent 3-6 hour training days will wreck you. Staying focused is essential. Here is how your day will be
-As you can see, eating is a central component here. If you don't eat enough you won't get the full benefit of the camp. You have to keep your energy high and can't go into any workouts carbohydrate depleted. I can't even tell you how many loaves of bread I ate this week. Or how many Cliff bars, or Gus. I can tell you that I ate 2 jars of peanut butter, a box of captain crunch, a box of Kashi Crunch, and a ton of pasta. I got sick of eating, but knew that I had to keep at it. Eating while training is also key (of course). Take this from the queen of bonking. If you want to make it through a 75 mile bike ride and be able to run you have to eat. Everyone is different, but I can handle about 250 calories per hour and feel good at the end. There are people who can handle much more, and some that can only take 150-200. Camp is a great opportunity to test your limits so that doesn't have to come on race day.
-Sleeping: also an essential part. But most likely there will be at least one night where you get almost none. It's a lot of new stress on the body and you might find yourself physically exhausted but mentally wound up. I laid awake for the entirety of the 3rd night. But don't stress about it- you'll make it up. Naps are wonderful.
-Some days will feel flat. For me, I had a few terrible days in the pool. But you just have to suck it up and put in the time. As long as you fuel properly and sleep you'll bounce back.
-Don't compare yourself to others. If you go to a large camp there will be plenty of people that are much better than you. We had several pros here and some seriously kick ass age groupers. I tried to learn as much as possible from them- mental toughness, race strategy, nutrition pointers. But the one thing you can't do is try to keep up with them. You will make the best gains mentally and physically if you push within your own limits. Your new friends might bike faster than you. If this puts you out of your zones, let them go. Cycling by yourself builds your mental game. The other athletes might run faster than you. Let them go. Watch their form, learn from them, but run within your own limits. Same thing in the pool. If you go harder than you are supposed to, you will set yourself up for some bad days. I'm not saying don't push yourself- camp is all about pushing your own limits. But don't get down on yourself for a second. I saw a lot of people mentally trashed because they couldn't keep up with someone or had a bad day. At hour 30, you have to realize how far you've come already to get there.
-You are capable of doing way more than you think you can. When I'm at home my long runs trash me. I get back and just lay in bed wondering what the hell I'm doing this for. At camp, a 2 hour run was just one of the 3 workouts of the day. And I was tired, but not trashed. It's all about focus. At camp, training is your only priority. No work, family, bills, just training. If I can do 39 hours in 10 days, anyone can.
-If you go into a training camp with a solid base, it won't make you sore. Just tired. I was kind of surprised that my legs weren't achy from the biking, or shoulders really fatigued from the swimming. At the end of the day I was really, really tired, but my body felt really good. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that we had 3 workouts almost every day. There was no time to let the muscles get stiff. Constant movement works wonders.
-Another pointer- sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. I feel like a friggin snake right now shedding my skin. It's gross.
And now a bonus pic:
A little slice of heaven
And bonus VIDEOS!
Advice from Will
Khai's nutrition strategy
A Few Good Swims
2 hours ago