Empowered Athlete Training Camp

For the last eight days I took part in a Denver-based training camp held by Melissa Mantak (Coach and Owner/Operator of Empowered Athlete). The camp consisted of daily swim, bike and run sessions as well as evening presentations and discussions on various topics related to sport, performance, nutrition, altitude, etc. The camp included nine triathletes (self included) with a mix of ability and experience. Most of the athletes have turned professional, but a couple are on the verge of earning their pro cards and moving on to the next level. We also varied in distance-discipline; most were focused on Olympic to HIM racing, but a few of us were long course athletes. Regardless of race duration, the training load of the camp would have progressed any athlete and I'm sure everyone walked away with better fitness (and new friends).

In almost every camp I've ever been to, someone falls ill. Unfortunately, this time, it was me. I came across some sort of stomach bug; I have no idea if it was from something I ate or something I caught, but it hampered the second half of the camp for me. Below, you'll see the layout of the camp with my missed sessions in ().

Day One: 30 minute easy run, 4 hour moderate ride with two tempo climbs of ~20-25 minutes of duration up Lookout Mountain. ~5K swim, short course yards, with a mixture of intensities.

Day Two: 13 mile run with the final 4K uphill (steep) towards the top of Red Rocks. 5K swim, Long Course, with some pulling. One hour recovery spin on the trainer.

Day Three: 5K swim, Long Course, challenging main set. 30 minute skills session with dynamic warm up and run drills followed by a 10K run on trails. Afternoon ride of nearly 2 hours at moderate, aerobic effort.

Day Four: 5K swim, Long Course, pulling and fast 50s. 10K run with a main set of 3x: 10 x 30on/30off. Afternoon trainer ride with threshold and vo2 main set (2 hours) with 7K tempo run off the bike (my choice, others ran broken tempo or aerobic).

Day Five: 5K swim, Short Course Yards, technique focused (skipped). 2 hour ride, aerobic (skipped). 45 minute aerobic run (skipped).

Day Six: 5K swim, Long Course, Aerobic/strength with fast 50s. Afternoon brick workout: bike/run/bike/run/bike/run. Lasted nearly 4 hours with a lot of intensity (skipped).

Day Seven: Morning run, aerobic/longer, 90 minutes (about 12 miles). 4K swim, Short Course meters, aerobic with skills.

Day Eight: 3.5 hour ride with 50-60 minute tempo climb (my choice, others rode moderate). 7K easy run in the afternoon.


I find training camps with this structure to be highly effective. The camp is bookended with aerobic overdistance sessions, while the middle of the camp sees the highest intensity. When a camp follows this layout, I believe its easier for athletes to come in and out of them with little disruption to their personal training schedule they execute at home. Training camps need to push, not break, athletes and this camp will most likely do just that for everyone.

As with most camps, I walked away learning a lot. Each athlete and coach has their own story, own style and own way of doing things. Listening and absorbing all their perspectives goes a long way in helping progress all of us as athletes. Each evening we formalized various topic discussions, but we also exchanged lots of ideas and stories during the downtime between sessions. Sometimes, its those moments that really generate some of the most valuable insight for all of us.

One the athletes, Jackie Arendt, blogged about each day's training. If you want to read more details about the sessions, you can find them here.

I'll be spending the next couple weeks here in Boulder before heading to a two week training camp in Tucson with my coach, Cliff English. That will be followed by Endurance Corner's first camp of 2012 in Tucson beginning on February 26th.