Camp Week 1 – Return To Fitness


It was great to have two excellent companions for the first week of my four weeks in Lanzarote. I find I get more out of my training where there’s not a feeling of outright competition. Don’t get me wrong, competition helps but it needs to be light and in context. Having training partners that are keen to get the work done and willing to play a little whilst realising it really doesn’t matter what any results are as long as we all get the motivation we need. Roger (@hawc) and Marc (@marcoatkinson) fit the bill perfectly.

I entered the camp with three rides since Kona – back to back 100 milers in mid november and then a 60 miler on New Years Eve. I was a little concerned as I knew Roger was looking for some solid riding and I was really worried I just wouldn’t be able to keep up.

We were fortunate to arrive at lunch time on the first day and got out for a solid ride on the bike. I know I suffered from first day enthusiasm (it always happens on camps in my experience) and hammered every hill. Not sure if the others felt the same or were just swept along. We went about 45 minutes before our coffee stop but from there we somehow ended up tacking on down to Playa Blanca and up Femes into a very stiff headwind. I could only just turn the pedals on my compact which explains the near death appearance of Roger at the top, he was on standard gearing. Normalised power of 248 watts tells the story as does my near complete falling apart about 10 minutes from home (I think I managed to hide it). Did run off the bike setting the right precedent for the week.

Next morning we got up before breakfast for a swim which we planned to do every day. It was very rough and we encountered lots of jellyfish. They’re pretty much a permanent fixture at the moment as is the swell. It makes it fun but it’s more like a fight than swimming and each of our swims was really just a minimum to get wet and occasionally, get stung.

Day 2 was much easier on the biking which was wise before Day 3 where we headed to Tabeyesco to get some benchmark times up the climb. I always start very hard on this climb to set me up at the right tempo. It was pretty favourable conditions with a monster tailwind for much of it. I was chuffed to bits with 32:30 with power of 304 watts. To give an idea, at last years camp I averaged 340 watts for just a minute quicker. Coffee at the top before looping round of Mirador Del Rio and then the boys showed they were made of the right stuff when they agreed to another ascent up Tabeyesco. The run off the bike saw me fall apart at halfway. It took me 5 minutes to collect myself and then I ran fast home… weird.

On Saturday we rode out to Orzola and up Mirador Del Rio from there. That must rank as the toughest climb on the island with each switch back kicking up in gradient whilst the whole thing is a continuous climb. It’s got me thinking about how to include it in the EverydayTraining Camp. It’s a nice way to go as the views back after Del Rio are excellent. Marc agreed to descend from Haria to give Tabeyesco another good go. I was very pleased to only drop off a minute on my time the previous time but Marc was a legend – it would have been enough to see the state he was in at the top (he gave it his all) but he knocked about 30s off his time from earlier in the camp. Back to back riding can get you fit !

The final day we skipped the swim and I’d told myself that I didn’t need to run if I completely pummelled myself. The plan was a version of the Ironman course. Since between us we don’t like the start of the course or El Golfo we decided to head up the Donkey Track, through the vineyards and over Fire Mountain following the Ironman route with a detour down to Orzola. I hammered every climb and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was one of those days where I just seemed to be able to keep pushing. We stopped for food in Orzola before having fun belting along the LZ1 with a tailwind. Marc gave some great pulls along the first section before I pulled a fast one on a small rise and dropped him. All in good humour ! I finished along the Ironman route with the road from Nazaret confirmed as terrible. I finished with nearly 6 hours at 247 watts normalised power. Very pleased.

It got me thinking about the speed of my return to fitness on the bike. Some observations

  1. It’s not quite there. Last summer I could sustain 350 watts for long periods and recover whereas at the moment that’s clearly not the case. It’s more like 300 watts is the equivalent now.
  2. Though i didn’t ride much I was doing a lot of very hard work in the pool. I was also ticking over my running. I would guess that my aerobic fitness is no where near as bad as I thought.
  3. I always come back to miles in the legs. Over the past 8 years I’ve done about 115,000 miles of riding. I’m guessing my muscles etc… have a lot of experience of adapting to biking stress.
  4. I have confidence in riding day after day and getting fitter. I’ve seen it on my own camps and on Epic Camp. The feelings I had in my legs in the first few days would have prompted a lot of people to take a rest whereas I pushed on knowing that historically I have got stronger by doing this.
  5. Jo wondered whether there’s also my history before Triathlon of doing lots of very long fell running – holiday of running 5+ hours daily. There’s no way of knowing but I am certain it’s crazy to just look at someones training in the year leading up to a performance to decide what created the performance. The whole athletic history has some contribution.

At the end of the week I had a Training Stress of over 2,000. Roger topped me with a score over 2,100. Marc managed his most every weekly mileage just beating last years EverydayTraining Camp which gives him a target for this years.

I’ve been thinking today about the key features of a DIY training camp. I’ve been doing them ever since starting Triathlon. Initially on my own based from a pub in Scotland but luckily I’ve found like minded people over the years which has meant I’ve had company. Here are some points

CONVENIENCE – for me this is absolutely KEY. Make it easy. Make it so you only have to think about training. This means a few things

-> Don’t do any cooking. Hotels with buffet breakfast / dinner work great. I’ve also used pubs where I can eat in

-> Good running and riding straight from the door. Having to hop in car somewhere just wastes time

-> If you want to include swimming make sure it’s close by. In Lanzarote we place ourselves minutes from the sea – we can walk down in our wetsuits and be swimming within 5 minutes of leaving our room.

HAVE A GOAL – nothing complicated. I’ve used the following two either

-> swim, bike, run everyday; OR

-> run, bike, run everyday

The latter being used where there’s no swimming.

FRIENDS – bring along some like minded friends always helps. Be sure that you all know this is a training camp and be aware of each others goals. It’s nice to do stuff together but there should be no hard feelings if people want to do there own thing sometimes

REMOVE YOURSELF – I find camps work better when you’re not able to be online all the time. So far this has just happened but I think in future I’d look for it. Having access to the internet is useful but it seems to work better if it’s not in your room so you just decide when to download emails. Similarly I’ve found a lack of TV helps enormously in getting to bed early and getting proper sleep.

SLEEP – key. As touched on above. I have had 78 hours sleep in 8 days since being here. When you’re training this hard you need sleep. By not having TV or internet I find that getting to bed early is not a chore.

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