Day 3 of a 3-day training camp is always the hardest. Physically, the body is not as sharp as it was on day one and two and mentally, it is challenging to convince yourself that you still have more energy in your sore/tired body to train hard for one more day.
When we write training camps into our training plans (for half and full Ironman distances), the workouts are designed to overload the body respective to the upcoming race distance but to also strengthen the mind to boost confidence. Additionally, there is a heavy emphasis on using the camp to work on race day pacing as well as to practice nutrition. Regardless if it is an Ironman-focused training plan or a Half Ironman training plan, a training camp is designed to prepare you for race day, both mentally and physically.
Although there are many benefits of attending a training camp, our favorite part of a training camp is having our campers motivate each other. It's really special to see campers support each other to the point that if one camper is tired or having an off day, everyone is there to lift-up one another.
Under normal circumstances, when an athlete is sore and tired from multiple days of training, it is so easy to skip a workout. But having a group to meet your tired body to train can make a huge difference to you actually showing up! Also, motivation is increased to push harder when you see someone else having a great workout. Considering the residual fatigue in a training camp, the camaraderie of campers in day 3 of a training camp can really boost performance because the chances of you pushing hard and not cutting the workout short are much greater when you have 6, 15 or 20 other athletes there to keep you going.
Karel and I like to challenge our campers on day 3 of our training camps because we know our campers can get so much more out of the workout in a group environment, than alone.
We also like to give our campers a better understanding of how we train and how we train our athletes in that we go through all the motions of setting ourselves up for a great workout and this means helping our campers understand how to train smart when the body is tired and the mind is not 100% committed to the workout. I am very strict on fueling because it can be a major setback (and letdown) when an athlete goes into a workout underfueled or neglects fueling during a training camp. Lastly, we like to push our campers. We want them to know they can still train smart and stay within their own fitness capabilities but push hard to reach new limits.
On Day 3 of our training camp we woke up to wet roads but thankfully, no falling rain. We dodged a possible ice storm and despite the temperature in the low 30's, it was an absolutely perfect morning to run.
We wanted our campers to sleep in so we set our start time at the host hotel for 9am. Our planned workout was a long run with intervals on a rolling course and a special surprise at the end of our run. We wanted to give our athletes a scenic run so after our hip/glute warm-up at the hotel, we all ran easy through downtown Greenville and Falls Park and then through Cleveland Park to the Caine Halter YMCA.
One of the biggest reminders for our athletes during our long run was to be ok with running slow - with good form. Although each camper has his/her own running fitness ability, everyone grouped up to run easy w/ walk breaks every 10-15 minutes to stretch out (we are also big proponents of walking while running - even in races). Running slow can be as slow as you want but because this can be hard to learn how to do for some runners, we aim for at least 90-120 seconds slower than a 10K or half marathon effort. Not only is this easier on the body to resist fatigue by running slower than normal with good form but this allows the body to be more fresh for a higher intensity effort near the end of the workout (and prevents the body from quickly tapping into glycogen stores early in the workout). It's also much easier to fuel/hydrate during the slower effort during the beginning part of the workout.
After ~4.5 miles of our "warm-up", we stopped at the field of the YMCA and did a true dynamic warm-up where Karel led the exercises.
Then we gave our campers the main set.
2 x 3 loops strong effort (good pacing) w/ 3-5 minutes rest in between
(We switched up the direction of the loop on the 2nd round)
What we didn't tell our athletes was how long each loop was OR the total of each interval.
Each loop was actually 0.63 miles so each interval was 1.89 miles!
Our biggest focus was making sure our athletes didn't check-out mentally before the workout began so we asked our athletes to not worry about their pace. It's so easy to compare to a past you or to feel you should be going faster but we reminded our athletes that today is a new day - new course, new weather, new training environment, new training camp - all new so no expectations are needed!
We absolutely LOVE main sets that are grouped in three (mentally, it's easy to break them down) so we wanted to have a main set that was mentally "easy" to handle, even if the effort was not "easy." It was important for our athletes to learn how to pace themselves within each loop because the course was rolling with one section of each loop with a steady climb and another section with a steep downhill. We addressed good running form up hills and down hills and the appropriate opportunities to pick up the pace and to recover/fuel.
I ran with three of the female campers and we all pushed each other. It's so great to push one another in a group environment and we all needed the extra motivation on day 3 of our training camp.
After our main set was complete, we all re-grouped and ran back to the hotel through the park for a total of 11.5 miles for our last day of training camp.
Oh - I almost forgot! We didn't let our campers mentally check-out after the main set. We told them that we had one more set for them around 1.5 miles from their hotel.
We did 1 last hill sprint (1 minute long) by Falls Park just to show our athletes that they do have that final push in the body, they just need to make sure they keep the easy parts easy (it's all about pacing) in workouts so that they can train the body to push hard when it needs to go hard (like in the last few miles of a race).
After our athletes checked out of the hotel and had a filling breakfast, we all met at Run In (our fav run store) for a little retail therapy after 3 days of training. All of our campers received a free coupon to Planet Smoothie (next door) so that none of our campers would have to travel home hungry.
After we sad good bye to most of our campers, our athlete Izzy came over to our place for a RETUL fit by Karel to get a bit more dialed in on his bike.
What a great 2.5 days of training by our campers. We are so proud of our campers for staying strong throughout our entire camp and we can't wait until our Clermont, FL camp in 2 weeks! 4 days of camp with the last day being an Olympic Distance Triathlon race (USAT sanctioned)!