Last winter (the bleak winter of 2018) is etched in my memory as GRIM, with a capital G. It was snowing, a lot of the time. Was cold, a lot of the time. Was grey and damp, a lot of the time and I remember thinking, why am I not training somewhere warm and sunny?
So right now I am in sunny Spain. Blue skies, great views, lovely trails. This is not Grim!
I had decided, for winter 2019, I was not going to spend 6 months in thermals, freezing my ass off again. In the diary went 3 x 10 day training camps. I had decided, well, the plan sort of fell into place, rather than myself strategically planning it. (A summary of my life, it kind of just happens, a self confessed terrible strategic planner.)
Camp 1: 10 days, January 24th- Feb 3rd, Lanzarote
Organised by my Leeds buddy Ele Haresign and partner Dave. a mis-match of Ele's friends, in one huge Airbnb in Costa Teguise.
Knowing we were heading to the sun for 10 days kept me going through the early part of winter. As I had finished my season late, after the European 70.3 Championships in Ibiza in October (I wrote about that here). I started training again in Mid November, so I only had 8 weeks of cold, dark, winter training to endure before Lanzarote.
There were between 6-8 of us in Lanza, with people coming and going at different points. They included:
Cozza Clarke- Has anyone crashed more times on a bike than Cozza? She has war stories! 1st female AG'er overall at IM Wales in Sept 2018, she is off to Kona, Ironman World Champs in Oct 2019. This girl is a great laugh and top sports masseuse, I tested her skills, converting the dinning room table into a massage couch. Check her out, if your in the Cotswold's.
Ele Haresign- Me mate Ele, no need for a map with Ele Nav around. On the come back trail after hip surgery. Great to see her back and keeping me on the straight and narrow.
Dave Williams- has the best coach ever! Seriously, Dave is a pleasure to coach and hustles movies off the black market for our film nights.
Trevor aka T-Dog: Cozza's partner and on a road bike, leaves the rest of us and our Time trial bikes looking a little slow!
Graham- Former GB Junior MTB'er, displaying his skills on the TT bike, unfortunately had to head home early to fix a burst pipe at his business.
Ele's brother and mate Steve joined us for a long weekend, providing more reasons for pizza and beers.
We had shared our training plans before hand, got them into sync and off we went. It worked well. On bike interval days, we warmed up together, set off, did our own efforts and re-grouped and rode home or to the cafe (mostly finishing at the cafe with cake(s) and coffee(s).
Group photo at the top of Femes.
Swimming was in the Occidental pool, I can't recommend this pool highly enough. It was a 7 minute ride from the Airbnb in Costa Teguise and we always had our own lane. What a dream.
The beautiful Occidental pool.
It all went so smoothly, some days more so than others. On the first Sunday, I planned to do my run on the track, the session was 47x 1min hard running with 30sec jogging in between. I cycled to the track, track was closed, bugger. I cycled home and on route spotted a decent road to to do the session on. It was pretty remote, so I thought I could hide my bike behind a house, within some tree's and change into run kit, do the session and head home.
What I didn't account for was how mentally tough running 20km up and down a 1km stretch of road would be. Especially in the heat. I had to stop twice on the 30km cycle home, to refill my water bottles, buy chocolate bars and re-charge just to make it back.
The road of death! Slight exaggeration, but 20km, from where the photo was taken to the tree (just beyond the car) back and forth, was a real test of mental stamina.
For me; the week basically replicated the training I would do at home, with a bit more pizza and beer than normal, and a few longer rides, due to the nicer weather.
Thurs 24th Jan: Arrive in Lanza- easy run (50mins)
Fri 25th: am easy run (50mins), Bike with short efforts (2hrs), pm: Run with short efforts (70mins)
Sat 26th: Swim (1hr), Longer ride (4hrs)
Sun 27th: Swim (70mins), Longer run session (2hrs total including 47 x 1min effort/30sec jog)
Mon 28th: Swim (75mins), Bike with efforts (3hrs)
Tues 29th: Run, swim, run day (hills reps in the 2nd run)
Wed 30th: Swim (1hr) longer ride (4.5hrs)
Thurs 31st: Easier day- easy run (45mins) technique swim (1hr)
Fri 1st Feb: morning easy run, lunch ride (2hrs), run with intervals (70mins)
Sat 2nd Feb: Swim (1hr) Ride (3.5hr)
Sun 3rd Feb: Long easy run on trails (1hr 50min) fly home
The plan was to enjoy the local pizzeria, the cheap beer, and keep good consistency across swim, bike, run and to enjoy the sun in a different environment.
Cheers guys, it was a pleasure.
It was followed with 2 weeks back in Leeds. The training ticked over. I spent my time packaging and posting mudflaps for topflaps.co.uk to cycle clubs around the country. Wearing lots of thermal layers out riding and running, sleeping (a lot) and counting down the days till the next warm weather training camp.
It wasn't long, 14 days after finishing the Lanza Camp, I was in Aguilas for the first of two, 10 days camps with Coach Mark Pearce and the Intelli Tri group.
Camp 2- Intelli Tri Camp #1 in Aguilas, Spain Feb 16th-26th
If you are interested into what life is like on Camp for a squad including 4 pro middle/long distance triathletes. Then head to the Intelli Tri Facebook page, where Mark has shared videos, photos and explanations of our training.
On Camp were:
Coach Mark Pearce: Pearcy, he has calves bigger than my quads. He can drop a watt bomb, faster than I can down a shot. He drives the support van while taking photos and getting annoyed when I take a wrong turning, the man can multi-task! Needs to work on his cafe rides though, can't see many in my programme.
Alice Hector- Is she an Ultra runner? is she a triathlete? is she an artist? (check her art out here) she is all of them, my friends. Laugh a minute with Hector in the house, just get drinking the wine, when she is cooking.
Louise Croxson - Alice and myself enjoyed "lessons from Lou"all week long. Lou, teaches us to use the oven, Lou teaches us to cook, Lou teaches us yoga, Lou teaches us how to stay alive...you get the gist! Our Lou, loves her yoga, coffee, g&t and Ronnie. Lou is a yoga teacher, more here
Sam Proctor- Up and at it, early doors Proctor. Swim's like a shark, pretends to listen to my chat on long rides, then once he has had enough, rides off, fair enough!
Kim Morrison- The bike queen, we all pray that Kim brings her heavy winter wheels to camp. I feel my prays do not get answered!
Dionne Allen- Dee, crushes track sessions, as casually as others dip biscuits in their tea. Is Dee the most laid back triathlete out there? Cool as a cucumber Dee.
Carly Bland- Support lady extraordinaire, fills up the water bottles, hands out bananas, all from the 'safety of the van?!' and then crushes us all in the pool, because she is rapido in the water.
Myself- Keeping the camp spirits high, until I got tired and irritable in the pool and Lou touched by toes! Sorry Lou.
Carly, Sam, Lou (with Ronnie), Dee, Kim, Me (on tip toes next to the tall ones!) Alice. Post track.
Again, everything went silky smooth. On Saturday, as I flew from Leeds to Alicante, I struggled to bend down to tie my shoe laces, something had happened to my lower back, it was agony. Thanks Mark and Lou for carrying my bike box up to the apartment on the 4th floor. Sunday, I managed a 5 minute run, before calling it a day. Monday I got a physio appointment at the local physio's. With lots of charades and miming actions, to make up for my poor Spanish, we got through an hour on the physio table, and the next day, I was back running, A BIG Thank You to Fisioaguilas, who treated me during my stay and got me back on track.
For those interested in the nitty gritty of the training:
Sat 16th Feb- Arrive in Aguilas. Easy 75min ride
Sun 17th:- Aborted run after 5mins due to back pain, 2hr30min ride, 20min sea swim
Mon 18th: Shorten ride (70mins) to get to Physio Apt, Swim (70mins)
Tues 19th: Swim (75mins) , Bike (90mins) Run- back on track, literally (Track session 27x200m effort/200m float)
Wed 20th: long hilly ride (5hrs), pm swim (60mins)- Video of the ride here
Thurs 21st: swim (70mins) Ride (2hrs) Run (1hr)
Fri 22nd: swim (60mins) Easy ride (1hr), Tempo run (60min tempo in 90min run)- video of the squad running here
Sat 23rd: 5.5hr hilly ride in the mountains