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Is An Early Season Training Camp Right For You?

  • By Jacqueline Sweet
  • Published January 11, 2013

The idea of jetting off to a warm locale for early-season training sounds like the perfect triathlete getaway: an incentive to build power on the bike and get back in the open water, with expert coaches and fellow athletes to push you to a higher fitness level.

If you choose your camp wisely, you can get a valuable head start on your race season.

San Diego-based coach Jim Vance runs camps in locations as far-flung as the Canary Islands and Costa Rica. “One of the top reasons to go is to re-motivate yourself and reenergize,” he says. “If you know you’re going to camp in a few weeks, you’re going to step up your training. It’s like a carrot in front of you.”

Although Vance’s camps typically attract more advanced athletes who have the motivation to dedicate their time and financial resources (shorter camps typically start around $1,000, and longer camps can cost several thousand dollars) beginners can also benefit from a devoted training weekend with fellow athletes of varying abilities.

New York-based coach Robert McKeown hosts a four-day training camp in Florida, where several attendees with less than a year’s background train alongside iron-distance racers.

“From a coach’s perspective, we are able to monitor our athletes and truly see how they perform and react to various workouts in all three disciplines,” McKeown says.

For athletes with more advanced goals, Vance advises finding a training camp specific to your “A” race. It can be an ideal way to scout out the race course and get a head start training in a particular climate. Vance runs a four-night, five-day camp in Utah targeted to Ironman St. George.

“The more invested an athlete is in a race, the more they know what their goals are and will base their training, including camp, around that banner event,” he says. A typical camp day for Vance’s athletes starts with a morning swim workout in open water, then a bike ride with drills targeting specific skills leading into a long run, and continues in the afternoon in the classroom, going over techniques and more skills.

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