by Coach Ben Greenfield
Are you signed up for a triathlon camp? Perhaps you're mulling over the concept of getting away for a few days to train. Whether you're a first-timer or a triathlon camp veteran, these five quick tips will help you be more mentally prepared and physically capable to handle everything that gets thrown at you during a typical triathlon camp.
#1: No 10% Rule: When you show up at triathlon camp, take a deep breath, then step forward and prepare to completely break the triathlon training rule about gradually increasing weekly volume by no more than 10%. In most triathlon camps, you'll experience up to 2-3x greater volume than you may have performed in your training. Yes, that means that you 8-hour-per-week athletes may find yourself engaging in some form of exercise for 24 hours during a week long triathlon camp. Amazingly, this is one of the reasons that camps actually *work* to make you better. Not only does this huge volume mentally prepare you for the psychological rigors of a long race day, but if you recover and repair properly after camp, you'll find a magically enormous boost in fitness as your body bounces back.
Quick Tip: schedule an easy week in after triathlon camp, where all you do are some aerobic swims, aerobic bikes, and couple easy, soft-surface runs.
#2: Foreign Foods: You don't need to expect Sushi or Greek rolls on the long bike day, but you do need to prepared to be out of your element from a nutritional standpoint, especially if your triathlon camp provides food. This means that many of your stand-by staples may not be readily available, especially if you're traveling out of the region for your triathlon camp camp. With a few ziplock bags and plastic containers, you can easily pack your protein powders, recovery supplements or vitamins, but be mentally prepared for apples instead of mangoes, peanut butter instead of almond butter, brown rice instead of white noodles, and a host of other nutritional change-ups that take you out of your element.
Quick Tip: Before you go, Google maps the nearest grocery store to your place of lodging.
#3: Psyche-Out Tactics: Your fellow campers will be sure to tell you about their nightly ice baths, their secret mushroom recovery extracts from the mountains of Fuji, their 6 hour indoor trainer rides while sitting on a bed of nails and their special running shoes made from endangered baboon wool. When it comes to the "sage advice" from fellow campers, don't make it a habit to question your own training, your own gear and your techniques - instead listen to everyone, and make a mental note that when it comes to finishing a triathlon, there is more than one way to skin a cat. What works for one person may not work for you. Be diligent, train smart, and don't let the gear geeks fool you into thinking that you need to drop everything and go shopping for new shoes that night.
Quick Tip: Ultimately, in the words of Lance, "It's Not About The Bike".
#4: Quiet Time: Many first time triathlon campers show up ready to party and engage in robust social life after the day's activities have ended. Truthfully, at most triathlon camps, you'll gather with great camaraderie for a breakfast with your campmates, chat it up all during your training sessions, have a quick lunch on the go and meet again for a fun, social dinner. But after that point, expect to experience a great deal of quiet time as everyone retires to their respective rooms, calls their family or significant others, checks e-mail, curls up with a good book, or goes lights out early to be prepared for another productive training day at camp. Triathlon camp may not be your best choice if you're planning to party, although most camps will always have at least one opportunity "go out on the town" or engage in celebratory activities.
Quick Tip: Go lights out early at camp - your delicate, hormonal testosterone:cortisol ratio will thank you the next day.
#5: Change: This is perhaps the most important element that you need to be ready for at a triathlon camp. Aren't you attending to get better, faster, stronger, and more knowledgeable? To reap the dividends you expect, you must show up at triathlon camp as an open and coachable person. Even if the tips you hear from the triathlon camp instructors are different from what your Master's swim or run coach or cycling instructor might tell you, have an open mind and experiment with every change of form or technique that is suggested to you. By constantly tweaking your triathlon skills during triathlon camp, you'll leave knowing more about your body, your mind, and what type of changes actually result in better speed and comfort.
Quick Tip: Go into triathlon camp with the mantra that "Everything Is An Experiment".
A great opportunity for you to go to a tri camp will be May 13-15, 2011, in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho, where Ben Greenfield and the team at Pacific Elite Fitness will be teaching a 3 day Ironman Coeur D' Alene triathlon camp full of tips, tricks, pacing and nutrition tactics for race day. Whether Coeur D' Alene is your next Ironman or you just want to get away for a few solid days of training and learning, you can find more at http://www.pacificfit.net/calendar.php. Deadline is April 15 and camp is limited to 20 participants, so sign-up ASAP!
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