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How to Pull Together Your Very Own Training Camp

Fiona Moriarty is a Neo-Pro Triathlete living in Portland, Oregon, and races for the Castelli Multisport team. For the pros, a solid block of training and time off before the start of a season is often key to success. For those who can't quite make triathlon their full-time job, it is even more crucial for success.

Coming back from a recent self-organized training camp in Arizona, she shares her top tips on creating your own training camp. Whilst some of the pointers revolve around heading somewhere new, we appreciate at this unprecedented time that this may be difficult to do.

However, many of the points made within the below guide (written weeks ago) do still apply to those of you who are able to train/exercise around your own homes. We hope you're able to get outdoors, but please ensure that whenever you do so that you do it responsibly, stay safe and be mindful of others.

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I log hours of training for three sports every week. They stack like legos, building fitness and readiness to race. Piling on training too fast is like making a giant vertical tower. An epic crash is guaranteed. 

That being said, blocking off time to train with focus is crucial. There’s a reason why most pros flood the ‘gram with photos of themselves working hard in beautiful places before the season starts. Reliable weather + increased hours of dedicated training = payoff (barring injury or other disasters).

You can always go the route of attending a camp planned by a trustworthy coaching service. Other than paying more dollars upfront, you show up with your gear, enthusiasm, and willingness to work without having to handle the planning and logistics. 

I have absolutely nothing against this route and have attended more than a few great camps. But as a new pro, I’m keen to keep expenses low and get a few solid blocks of work in before my first race. So, here my biggest learning moments and takeaways from my first self-led training camp.

 

1. Find some buddies!

I’m lucky to have a built-in training partner (my boyfriend) who swims, bikes, and runs with me under most circumstances. Nevertheless, I also reached out to friends who I have either raced against or trained with to see if they’d like to join.

 

2. Lock in commitments and deposits early.

As wonderful as those training buddies are, people inevitably commit and back out. Learn from my experience by finalizing plans early and asking for deposits shortly after someone says yes. We started planning in January for a March camp and enthusiasm was HIGH. So we booked a house for 12 people - that only my boyfriend and I stayed in. (facepalm)

 

3. Pick your location wisely.

We picked Tucson for several reasons. It’s dry. It’s affordable. It didn’t take us long to fly there. It’s got a bangin’ bike path system. All of that to say, find a place where training is accessible, the weather is predictable, and you can focus on training. The last thing you want is to sit in your Airbnb for hours because it’s dumping rain outside.

 

4. Increase your volume appropriately.

I’ll let the expert, my coach Elliot Bassett, tell you how to do this the right way.

“Focus on training that’s hard to do in your normal environment with workouts that are slightly different from what your regular routine. Don’t be afraid to have fun and definitely come home in one piece. If it takes more than three days to recover, you’ve traded one week of training for one week of rest. That’s not a great trade.”

In my case, Elliott upped the bike mileage because it’s been impossible to ride long outside in Portland without getting soaked. He increased swim volume slightly and kicked up the intensity, but running didn’t budge. My mileage stayed consistent which kept me healthy and injury-free.

 

5. Don’t be afraid to Strava snoop. 

Creating routes in a new place can be hard. You don’t know what roads have bike paths, where things dead end, or what elevation gain you’re looking at. We used Strava’s heat map function and the routes of Tucson locals to plan our routes. Once those puppies were uploaded on our Wahoos, we took 0% wrong turns. And that is a win. 

I left Tucson with a boatload of fitness, a mild sunburn (not recommended), and optimism about toeing the line as prepared as I possibly could be. Races are on hold for the foreseeable future, but thanks to my camp experience I’ve got a super solid foundation to build upon. I’ll be ready for that starting line whenever it comes my way.