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The heat is on – warm weather escape
In November it seemed that every sports person that I follow on Twitter was tweeting that they were escaping the cold weather to do some warm weather training overseas. Looking at the British weather forecast I decided that if I can’t beat them (literally) then I could at least join them and so headed off to the La Santa sports training complex in Lanzarote for a week.
Club La Santa is a wonderful resort specifically designed for sportspeople and offers a range of facilities including a running track, 50m outdoor swimming pool, bike hire centre, gym, tennis, badminton and squash courts, spa and a wide range of aerobics classes. All that plus an average December temperature of 18 degrees means that it is a haven for both professional athletes and weekend warriors.
Whilst there I spotted a number of elite athletes including world triathlon champions Alistair Brownlee and Helen Jenkins, who were there with the British Triathlon Federation squad. Other teams training in the resort included the Rabobank pro-cycling team, the Czech athletics team and members of the British Cycling team including world champion Sarah Storey.
As an age group triathlete most of my training was centred around swimming, running and cycling. Lanzarote is quite small and the roads are in wonderful condition so as long as they can battle against the wind and hills, cyclists can see a lot of the island. I also tried a number of other activities on offer at the resort including an off road mountain bike tour, kayaking, yoga and bodypump.
La Santa is the kind of place that you can travel to alone but you will quickly find people to train with. They offer an excellent apartment share option where single travellers can sign up to share an apartment and pay 50% of the cost of an apartment. This removes the problem of prohibitive single supplements.
The resort also offers regular sports specific training weeks where you can meet people to train and socialise with. There was a complementary running week taking place the week that I was there so I was able to do some social running sessions. Also the famous ‘Green Team’ representatives run group sessions including group bike rides, runs, water sports sessions, and aerobics classes.
I had a wonderful week and it was a shock to have snow on my first day back in the UK. I learnt that warm weather training is not just for professional athletes and I am already planning my next warm weather training holiday.
Whilst in La Santa I caught up with world champion triathlete Helen Jenkins (pictured below) to find out about her experience of warm weather training.
What was a typical day like for you in Club La Santa?
A typical day would start with a swim in the 50m pool, usually swimming between 4.5km to 5km. Then I would go off on the bike for a ride. I would finish the day with a run. I usually squeeze in some gym work too. Our training varies a lot through the week so the length of sessions changes as does the intensity.
Did you do follow your own training program or train with the British Triathlon Federation squad?
It’s fun to be on a camp with the whole British squad. It makes a change for me, as I do most of my training in a small group, so it’s nice to have different people to train with. I don’t do every session with the squad as I have some specific sessions I need to do, as does everyone else. So we train together when it suits.
What do you do to relax in La Santa?
When we aren’t training there are a lot of other activities to take part in Club La Santa. Often I am too tired to do anything else other than chill out and read and watch DVDs. I went to the Wellness Spa Centre this visit and found it relaxing and good for recovery.
Apart from the sun, what is the best thing about warm weather training?
It’s a nice change to be out of the bad winter weather and so nice to go out training in shorts and a t-shirt. Not having to put on lots of layers before heading out the door is good!
Will you be doing warm weather training anywhere else this winter?
I’m heading back to Club La Santa at the end of January for a few more weeks then I will head to Australia a month before the Sydney World Cup Series triathlon race, which will be my first race.
What top tip would you give to people considering doing some warm weather training?
You can really get stuck into the training as you are away from home with nothing else to do but train. I would recommend writing a training plan so you don’t do too much the first few days and get too tired – pace yourself! Also don’t forget to account for the fact that it will be warmer and it is important to stay hydrated.
Top tips for warm weather training
– Don’t do too much. It is tempting to do a lot of extra training but this can lead to fatigue or worse injury. Ease yourself into the training and make sure you have plenty of recovery time. It is probably a good idea to go with an idea of how many hours of training you want to do and stick with it to avoid overtraining.
– On a training week volume is better than intensity. The aim of winter training is to get a good training block so aim for a week of base training rather than intense speed work.
– Stay hydrated. It is so easy to get dehydrated whilst training in the heat. Make sure you take some powdered carbohydrate and electrolyte drinks that you can make.
– If you hire a bike make sure you take your bike measurements with you. You will be in pain if you cycle for a week in the wrong position. If you wear cleats remember to take your bike pedals with you.
Helen Russell, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine