I spent the first week of May with my team at a training camp in St. George, Utah. After not being able to make my club’s annual training camp for the past two years thanks to conflicts with school, I was pretty excited to attend this one.
Why should one attend a training camp?
First, it is a great way to recharge your battery in preparation for race season. Winter training can be tough - especially when it decides it wants to stay an extra month. Us Calgarians were hit with an extremely ugly winter - blistering cold temperatures and heavy snowfall after snowfall. It was rough. Being forced to spend hours inside on the trainer went from being manageable to being a huge drag. For the first time in four years I even had to run on the treadmill. The worst part of training inside? The mental toll it takes. A change of scenery not only refreshes you mentally but gets you excited about training again.
It also gives you the opportunity to only focus on training. At home one has to fit in workouts around work and/or school. This means getting up ridiculously early to fit in morning swims and getting home late due to evening bikes and runs. You are constantly multitasking and making up calendars to make sure you are able to squeeze in every workout and still have somewhat of a life outside of sport. This all changes when you are at camp. Training camps are a magical place where you are given ridiculous amounts of food and told to spend all of your free time relaxing and recovering. You are able to purely focus on training and get in long, high quality workouts.
Having a training camp away from home enables you to train on different terrain. Training in the same pool, the same roads, and same pathways can become a bit tedious. Going to a new city allows you to train in unfamiliar locations. This adds an extra physical challenge as you are constantly being surprised with what the next section of road or pathway will be and how best to tackle it.
This also holds true for the weather. When training in Calgary one of the biggest factors to take into consideration is the wind. There have been days where I have literally almost been blown off the side of the highway on my bike. St. George has barely any wind but is ridiculously hot - so hot at some points during the camp it felt like my skin was going to melt off. Personally, I find training in heat super beneficial as it will better prepare me for races later in the season that are known for being super hot (plus you get a wicked tan in the process).
Lastly, training camps are fun. You get to spend everyday with people who are just like you - obsessed with training. You push each other and suffer together. On days that you are feeling good you are able to push the group. On days when you are a bit of a hot mess, the group is able to motivate you to keep going and find new gears. You get to explore new places and see different parts of the world. The red rock and vegetation in St. George are a huge contrast to the mountains and forests in Kananaskis. Most importantly, you are able to get in a huge amount of fitness and go into race season feeling strong and ready to crush some goals.