The two best uses of training camps are to generate super-fitness before a peak race or for an early season fitness boost during base training. These are different uses of training camps and fit into your training calendar in different places.
The same camp can be used by athletes in both the groups mentioned above. The peaking athletes will be riding a lot faster at these camps than the training athletes. It is essential to know which group you fall into before you get to camp in order to keep everything in perspective. If your peak race is 6 months away, don’t expect to perform as well at camp as those athletes peaking 2 weeks post camp. Camp is for training, not setting performance benchmarks.
Athletes using training camps to peak for an *A* Race
TIMING: Place your training camp 2-3 weeks before your peak race. Go into the training camp rested and take a rest week post camp.
CAMP GOALS: A training camp should be training, not racing! 2-3 weeks before a peak race you will be riding strongly (a.k.a. feel like a rock star). A risk in this situation is to spend your peak form at camp and end up flat at your *A* race. You must enter training camp with specific training goals. Use a heart rate monitor and power meter with specific power level governors in place to keep your intensity levels in check. When you are near peak form and feel like a rock star it is all too easy to get in a drag race at camp and start spending fitness instead of building your final peak form.
Athletes using training camps as early season fitness boost
TIMING: Schedule your training camp any time during your base training period. The best timing for a training camp is at the end of a training block immediately prior to a rest week. Schedule a rest week post camp.
CAMP GOALS: Enter camp rested. Ride conservatively for the first half of the camp. Gradually build up effort level and fatigue during camp. Finish camp on empty. Go home tired. Enjoy the time on your bike, meeting like-minded athletes, and hopefully catch some sunshine.
After a winter of solo indoor training, a destination training camp to somewhere warm and sunny with the camaraderie and motivation of other campers can make for a season highlight. Training camps done right will boost fitness, confidence and motivation for the season.
Training camps are the perfect venue to get to know other athletes and solidify friendships while away from the race venue. I run a every January, scheduled 3 weeks before 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. The timing of this camp is perfect for athletes aiming to peak at Old Pueblo and also for those in their early season base training period. My favorite post camp quote from one of my campers sums up the training camp experience
“I met a lot of really cool people this weekend! It was a great opportunity for me to ride with experts and pros in a non-competitive atmosphere; it was totally inspiring, thanks again!”
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