When I first started triathlon, I was living in College Station, Texas. We typically experienced a handful of days each winter that really embodied that season; and even then, those days rarely occurred in succession. In reality, the winter months were the best months of the year to train in that part of the country. Our challenges came in the summer months (which is about eight months of the year in that part of Texas), but even that was a little more manageable than long periods of cold, dark, snowy days.
Until 2007 I never spent a winter in a cold climate. However, when I made the move to Boulder full time, I had to learn to adapt to this new season. All of a sudden, it was snowing, the sun was setting before 4:30 p.m. and it seemed as though I spent more time putting on clothes than I actually spent training. In fact, I was finding little reason to get out the door on some days. What appeared to keep me honest was scheduling a winter getaway in the desert in the middle of winter. I knew my training was somewhat subpar, but I kept at it, doing my best to ensure I wouldn’t show up to this camp completely out of shape.
Even though I had scheduled this training camp, I didn’t think it would be very effective at getting me fit. I hardly saw how one week would have much of an impact on my overall fitness, particularly since I wasn’t in very good shape to begin with.
What I actually experienced was totally different. I found it amazing to learn what I could actually accomplish, in one week’s time, when I actually surrounded myself with other motivated athletes in a warm, sunny locale. I had gone there for the weather, but what I actually learned was the effectiveness that a training camp environment provided. The weather certainly allowed us the opportunity to train big, but it was the effect of the group dynamic that led to the real gains.
Since then, I’ve really come to appreciate what a training camp can provide for an athlete. Since joining Endurance Corner in 2008, I’ve directed, attended, and coached at more than 10 different training camps. The more I take part in these events, the more I believe in the positive impact they have on the athletes that attend them.