Journey, Training

Training Update #4 – Training camp in Mallorca

Mallorca – An athlete’s paradise
It doesn’t come as a big surprise that this island is a cycling Mecca and great training ground.Especially at this time of the year where the weather is perfect and the mass tourism hasn’t quite set in yet!
Mallorca offers an amazing and very diverse scenery. From beautiful beaches and bays to high mountains with steep cliffs and winding narrow roads that take your breath away.  The roads are well maintained, they provide you with very challenging cycling routes which you can tell by the amount of cyclists on the road. I’d say there were more cyclists than cars on the road.

I had the pleasure to spend 3 full weeks on the island and dedicate all my time and attention to my training. Some might say I have the luxury of living a life like a professional triathlete. I take that 🙂 Although it sounds like a perfect set-up there were certain challenges I had to tackle to make the most out of my time there. My goal was to truly focus on my training and be fully committed to get me closer to my goal.

Training structure
The 3 weeks were divided into a 2 week building block of very intense training and 1 week with reduced load for recuperation to allow the body to absorb the work and recover. One mistake I didn’t want to do was to over commit and add additional training stress to my plan to risk an injury or too much fatigue and over-training. It was important to focus on the recovery between the training, limit my stress (sleep and nutrition are key here), so that I can hit every single training session with 100%.
The theme of these 3 weeks was – sustainable power and speed!
Oh boy there were some serious sessions that took me way out of my comfort zone and raised the bar of my pain level. I had to dig deep, be fully present during the training. I had some great break through sessions which lifted my fitness level again.
My coach put together a well balanced training plan. To give you an idea what a week typically looked like:

Swim: 3-4 sessions, 2 key sessions and 2 supporting sessions
Bike: 3 sessions, 2 key and 1 supporting session
Run: 3-5 sessions, 2 key, 1 brick and 2 supporting sessions
Strength training: 2 sessions

The idea behind this is to have 2 key sessions per sport. The key sessions are very specific to the training phase you are currently in (sustainable power). They are usually more challenging and ask you to dig deep and work your butt off.
The supporting sessions are less stressful and give your body some chance to recover. All all in all I did between 12- 14 sessions per week. Yes that is a lot of work for an amateur athlete (but well I am supposed to train like a pro right)

The amount of accumulated hours or distance was not a main indicator at the end of the week of how well or successful you have trained.
Factors like form over speed, efficiency on the bike and run, sustainability of power over a given time, switching between training zones, knowing when to work hard and when to go easy. One of the key things that I have learned is that more speed and power do not necessarily translate to better training success.

A typical training day
Just to give you an idea what a typical day looked like:

  • Wake up with sunrise
  • Breakfast #1
  • First Training session
  • Breakfast #2
  • Active recovery
  • Spare time
  • Lunch
  • Spare time
  • Second training session
  • Dinner
  • Sleep

Focus on recovery and reducing stress
I think the biggest advantage you have when you can only focus on training is to reduce your other stress factors in your life (unproductive stress) as much as possible and make recovery a priority. I usually had 8-9 hours of sleep each day and that is truly a big benefit when it comes to training. Sleep is your best recovery tool you have, it’s free so make use of it.

The second best thing in my opinion for reducing stress is nutrition! This is a challenge when you are not at home and travel. Eating only plant based doesn’t make things any easier. Well that’s what I first thought but I think I managed it very well and it’s doable to eat well and healthy while travelling.

I will explain how I managed to do it in a separate article. This could be interesting for a lot of people who travel and struggle with eating healthy while being away.

Wrap up
Apart from all the crazy training I did, I had also plenty of time to do other things. I explored a lot of different places on the island, I met some wonderful new people, I was running the household at my host (including feeding and looking after his cat, cleaning the house and playing with his son). Getting to know a shop owner, helping out my host with his new restaurant and have more time for reading, yoga and meditation was nice too.

The last week I spent with my sister and her husband. After not seeing them for so long, it was nice spending some time together and forget about training for a while.

All in all I think the 3 weeks of training helped me a lot. I have made some big fitness improvements, got more confidence in my approach of how I am doing things and got a clearer picture of where I am heading.

I am now 8 weeks away from the big race. The clock is ticking and the excitement is slowly building up.

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