Sunday, 17 April 2011

The CLUB LA SANTA Training Report

By Mike Jubb
First off.....why go on a training camp? Well, the British winter can start to get a bit monotonous after a while...wrapping up warm, getting wet, etc..... so the opportunity to go to a training camp in Lanzarote, with pretty much guaranteed warm weather (average temperature of 20 degrees C at this time of year) is an opportunity not to be missed. The feeling of going out running/cycling in shorts is wonderful after hiding away under layers of thermals and lycra all winter.  In addition, I'm signed up to race Ironman Lanzarote ( www.ironmanlanzarote.com ) in May, so this would give me an opportunity to ride the course and get used to Lanzarote's famous windy conditions. In addition to Striders, there were a couple of guys on the camp who were also training for the Ironman. Club La Santa is based on the North Side of Lanzarote, with everything an athlete could possibly want, from a 400m running track, to a 50m Olympic standard pool, as well as spa facility for relaxing those tired muscles. One of the big mistakes that a lot of training camp novices make is to do too much on the first couple of days, so I deliberately wrote myself a training schedule for the week and vowed to do no more than what I had planned.
So, here is my training diary from the week:
Day 0
Flew out from Luton just after lunch and didn't arrive until the evening, so a planned rest day before the week ahead.

Day 1
An organised 1 hour pack run with all the club members to show them the route to get away from the site and onto some off-road trails. It was during this run that I realised that many people never run off-road, and hence have developed a 'shuffly' running action where they don't pick their feet up adequately. Several of the club, despite being experienced runners, tripped on the underfoot conditions, and a couple actually fell over. I hope that they may have learned from this experience and factored an off-road run into their weekly schedule going forward, as it will certainly improve their running speed, not to mention avoid future skinned knees......you know who you are!
An easy 2hr30 bike ride out into the lava fields - including an impromptu 'race' with a German guy who was riding with his wife until we overtook him, and he promptly latched onto our back wheel and gave us a good stuffing over the top of the long climb we were on. Not too sure what his wife thought of this, as she was left trailing some 10 minutes behind......suspect there may have been some cold shoulder served up with the sauerkraut that evening in their household! To finish off the day, we did a low key,45 minute swim session in the pool. Now I know what you are thinking at this point......I thought that you wanted to take it easy and not do to much on Day 1, Mike?  Well, you're right, and ordinarily, doing 3 training sessions in a day would constitute a hard days work, but when you are on a 'training camp' it somehow seems easy. There is no daily commute, no stress from work (the blackberry was turned off) - so the three sessions were exactly as planned.

Day 2
Started off the morning with an open-water swim in the lagoon (before the windsurfers get out there). Joined by 4 other people in wetsuits (and Luke who decided that it would be good to just swim in his Speedos - the air may be warm, but it's still the Atlantic Ocean in February!) we did a couple of laps of the lagoon - much nicer than swimming in a pool any day.
After breakfast, Phil, Paul and I met up for a 4 hour ride around the north end of the island, following the route of the Ironman course and taking in the Tabayesco climb (10km of climbing from the coast up to the highest point on the island). This day became the first that we really experienced the strength of the wind.....it just feels like you're pedalling with your brakes on all the time! As it was the first long ride of the week, we allowed ourselves to stop for lunch and we enjoyed a nice paella sat overlooking a small village harbour. For the record, the Tabayesco climb was completed in 34 mins.

Day 3
Another short morning pool swim - nothing too hard, just 30 mins of steady swimming in the Olympic pool. At Club La Santa they organise events pretty much every hour of every day - sort of like a Butlins for athletes, with members of the Green Team (think yellow coats in trainers) coordinating events.  One such event is the 'advanced' bike ride.  I'd done this before, and knew that anything with an 'advanced' tag on it was not going to be a walk in the park.  Sure enough a group of around 20 cyclists set off, with the warning that...."this is the advanced ride, if you fall off the back and can't keep up, then you must make your own way back".  The two green team riders who escorted us on this ride were both professional cyclists.  One of them was a junior who rode for a team in Glasgow and the other was a Danish triathlete, with thighs the size of my waist!  Phil, Paul and I all performed well and did not disgrace themselves, keeping up with the lead bunch. I even managed to wind up the pace a bit on the way back.
Upon returning after 2hrs30, as Paul and I are both training for the Ironman, we had already committed to doing a 1hour run 'off the bike'.  This is known as a 'brick' run....not too sure why, other than your legs feel like bricks...or maybe because you feel like you're hitting the wall? I'm not going to lie, it was not pretty - we jogged along at a pretty slow pace, thinking about a pint of cold coke in the bar upon our return!

Day 4
Race day - one of the big attractions in attending Club La Santa is that they organise weekly races - these are low key events, but due to the attendance at the resort by high quality athletes they can often be quite competitive affairs.  On this day they held a mini-duathlon in the morning (2.5km run - 15km bike - 2.5km run) and an aquathlon (200m swim - 3km run) in the afternoon.  In my plan, I'd already decided to not do anything long on this day, but to get some quality in, by taking part in the races instead.  Despite being the wrong side of 40, I gave a good showing in the duathlon, finishing 2nd, to a much younger Paul Adams and in the aquathlon decided to do it as a relay with Lucy, so I did the swim, and she did the run. Great fun and good from a training point of view to mix up the endurance sessions with some flat out efforts.
I also decided to do a bit of extra swimming after the aquathlon, so stayed in the water and did another 45 mins of swimming.

Day 5
Ironman bike course day - we had been promising ourselves that we would do the full Ironman course one-day - unfortunately 20km of the course (the start and finish sections) is down into one of the major towns, so we decided to miss out that bit, but still took on a 170km loop.  As if this was not going to be hard enough, we seemed to choose the day with the hardest wind blowing too.  So what were the highlights of the loop.....grinding uphill for 20km into the headwind at around 10mph???, the descent off top with the wind behind and hitting 48mph??? or maybe seeing Phil eat three (yes I said three!)  Magnum ice creams at around the 100km point to get some energy into his body for the remainder of the ride???
No matter, it was good to do the whole loop...almost 6hrs of it  - with locals heard saying that they could not remember the wind being so bad for a few years - I hope they are right, coz if it's like that on race day, it'll be a battle to finish the bike...never mind getting off and running a marathon!

Day 6
After doing the long ride the day before, it would have been sensible to take it easy today....but no.  Today was the mini-triathlon race. Yet again low-key, the mini-triathlon (400m swim - 15km bike - 5km run) turned out to be a very competitive affair for me with several of the Striders from the running club teaming up to make relay teams. Yet again, I finished second (to one of the teams made up of Sally, Phil and John), but was extremely pleased with both my bike and run performances (I'm never pleased with my swim performances, as I resemble a lump of concrete in the water).
After the early morning race, I took a group of less experienced riders upto the Tabayesco climb that they had heard us cyclists talking about, and after lunch at the top, myself and John headed out to do a loop round the top end of the island again - without realising, today turned into a 5hour ride - a sign that we were getting used to all the long days inn the saddle maybe?

Day 7
With a flight booked for the evening, we crammed an extra couple of sessions in, a 45 minute morning run with Sally and Paul before checking out, and then a 2hr30 ride taking in another notorious climb on the island at Femes.  We had gone down this road on the advanced ride (with our brakes fully on!) - it was steep!  Fortunately, it was not very long but after leaving the roundabout at the bottom, I was in my bottom gear and struggling immediately.  But if this week had done anything for me, it had definitely made me strong willed and the three of us ground our way to the top. A great way to finish the week.
On the way back to the resort, my legs felt very tired and the weeks training started to catch up with me. I think that I hit the training load about right, and just need to make sure that I recover now that I am back. The stats for the week show over 30hrs of training, with over 650km of biking.....it was hard (especially due to the wind) but I hope that once I've recovered I'll be much stronger for it.

In a conversation with Leda Cox, who used to undertake hard training camps regularly, she said she would do 4 days of no training at all, followed by 4 days of very light training, before returning to her normal training regime. Two weeks later - she would be flying! Bearing in mind that she would regularly train for 35hrs per week, it shows how important the recovery is. If you ever get a chance to attend a winter training camp then I would highly recommend it....especially if you are training for a specific race. Here are my tips for getting the most out of it:
  1. Go with a group that you can mix and match your training partners with
  1. Set yourself a training plan before you go
  1. Don't do too much on the first two days
  1. Wear loads of sunscreen when you go out training - it may not seem hot (especially if there is a wind blowing) but your skin will not be used to the sun and will fry
  1. Take a good chamois creme or similar if you are going to be doing a lot of cycling - especially if you are doing more than you are used to
  1. Take your watch off before you apply your sunscreen or you get a nasty sunburn around the edge of your watchstrap (as I found out!)
  1. Stay out of the sun between sessions and stay hydrated - the purpose of the holiday is to train hard, not get suntan lines
  1. Eat healthy and plentifully - you are likely to be burning many more calories than normal and you'll need to replace them
  1. Plan a recovery week for when you return - including a massage session or two.

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