For many years I’ve travelled to altitude to reap the benefits of training and preparing for major competitions. During the winter months it’s not always possible to travel to areas high above sea level as it is the ski season in many resorts. The beautiful forest trails are under a few feet of snow and are transformed into fabulous tracks for cross-country skiing – which is a sport that I love.
When winter approaches in our neck of the wood we see many of the power athletes (sprints and field events) travel to sunnier climates, so this year I decided to give it a go. In January I travelled to Murcia in Spain with a few other local athletes and we joined a group from New Balance Manchester and Welsh Athletics.
We headed out there at just the right time. We travelled on a Monday and by the Tuesday afternoon there was a good few inches of snow back home and things came to a standstill for a good week. It was unusually warm that week, according to the locals, and temperatures hit 25C and running conditions were fabulous.
At present (end of March) I am in the south of Portugal with Athletics Ireland. Our apartments overlook the track, the nearest off-road trail is only 800m away, the beach is also a stone’s throw away and the atmosphere in the camp is buzzing with many other athletes all striving to build on their underlying conditioning for the up and coming track season.
Our Irish juniors are a great bunch. Their enthusiasm and dedication to the sport is amazing and I’m definitely being motivated by them on this camp. Their energy and love for the sport is making me feel 10 years younger, lol.
So what benefits can you gain in warmer climes when it is still winter at home?
The relaxation of training away from home with no other distractions; recovery comes easier too;
The better climate, away from the wind, rain and snow allowed for a more comfortable and productive training atmosphere and the feeling of the sun on my back is a great feeling;
Discovering new trails and benefiting from being somewhere new is also real fuel for motivation;
Training with others can be a great benefit – I don’t usually get to train in groups at home with work commitments and also not living very close to others;
Quality time to relax too between training, aiding recovery; plus having access to a physiotherapist is all part of the ‘training camp package’;
A better quality of training; I find my times are better, my heart rates are lower and my recovery is quicker.
At home with all the distractions life throws up, I might feel tired, drained and sometimes motivation is difficult to find, especially in the weather that has been thrown at us this year – over five months of cold, wind, rain and snow and counting.
I would definitely recommend trying warm weather training if you can, even if it’s just for a week. Popular destinations that are easily accessible to us from Ireland and the UK include Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Morocco, Murcia, Majorca & Portugal.
It’s worth checking out other athletes’ blogs for information on camp destinations, Sonia Samuels has a great blog on training in Murcia which includes trail routes and training venues. It was a great help to me and the group in January when we tried this destination for the first time.