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Travel – F12 triathlon training camp
I’ve always considered warm weather training to be one of the perks of being a top athlete, but after discovering F12’s triathlon training camp at La Manga Club in Spain I’ve realised it’s not just for the professionals.
My main goal for this camp was to kick start my training after a few quiet months. I’m planning to take part in a couple of triathlons this summer, perhaps even increasing the distance from the sprint ones I did last year, but after a winter of next to no training I was looking for something to give me the boost I needed to get my triathlon dreams back on track.
From the moment I arrived at the F12 camp I knew it was going to work for me.
Performance director Steve Halsall has created a regime that will push, develop and hone your triathlon fitness, but it’s about much more than just shaving seconds off your time.
His refreshingly holistic approach to training means there is a real emphasis on recovery (stretching and relaxation classes finish off each day) and healthy nutrition.
Steve feels passionately that, alongside honing your skills for the three tri disciplines, the camp should also teach you good habits for your general wellbeing to take home with you.
And it is this total body approach that I believe makes the F12 camps something quite special.
Once you book an F12 retreat Steve and his team will talk through your fitness levels and goals prior to arrival so that the camp can be tailored to suit the group. Depending on the level of package you book, you can opt to have everything taken care of for you from the minute you arrive, so all you need think about is getting fit and having fun.
I stayed in the Las Lomas apartments and this was where we enjoyed the nutritionally balanced lunches that were freshly prepared by the camp’s private chef.
Perched on top of a hill – great for views, a killer for getting up at the end of a bike or run session – they are also conveniently located close to the spa, pool and gym complex – all of which you can enjoy in between sessions.
Our first session was in the pool, and GB age group triathlete and top triathlon coach Ralph Hydes was in charge. F12 have a team of excellent trainers so you can be sure of first class advice and training tips throughout your stay.
Disappointingly it was too early in the year for us to take advantage of the Mar Menor, a local lagoon perfect for practising open water swimming, but the indoor six lane, 25m lap pool was a good second choice.
Ralph worked on our technique through a series of drills and taught us how to incorporate these in to our regular swim sessions once we are back home again.
I found this particularly useful as I can be guilty of just ploughing up and down the pool, clocking up lengths, but without any real focus. He also worked on specific open water techniques including deep water starts and drafting.
The session lasted about an hour and a half – much longer than I’d usually do in the pool – but it felt really manageable as it was broken down into short sections.
Each workout was followed by a short recovery time usually accompanied by a healthy snack. I can assure you that dried fruits and nuts, and a cup of green tea, were a welcome sight after 90 minutes of pool time!
From the swim to the bike – you can either take your own bike over or if you prefer hire one at the resort. I went for the latter and was treated to a Dolan with full carbon frame – a step above the bike I ride at home!
Depending on the level of your group, local rides can cover anything from a flat 25km to a more challenging 112km.
I’ve only being riding road bikes since last summer and so would consider myself firmly in the novice category, so my time on the bike was spent learning basic skills to improve my bike performance.
There are some amazing rides in the area surrounding La Manga Club, with Murcia considered by many a bit of a hidden gem for cyclists.
With beautiful rural scenery, quiet roads and enough climb to keep even the most hardened mountain goat happy it’s no wonder that F12 also host cycle only breaks here too.
Cycling is probably the weakest of the three disciplines for me and these rides really helped to boost my confidence.
Riding in my first ‘chain gang’ through the old mining villages of Murcia, overlooking the mediterranean, is an experience I will never forget.
So with cycling under my belt, that just left the run. As with the cycling the joy of training somewhere like La Manga Club is the stunning surroundings on your door step. With some great road and trail runs right from the resort there was no shortage of good routes.
I’m certainly not used to doing more than one training session a day but I was surprised by how well my body coped with the multiple sessions on the camp. Having an organised, but flexible regime to follow certainly made me push myself harder than I would when left to my own devices.
And thanks to all the amazing facilities, your timetable is wonderfully varied throughout your stay. As we were encouraged to make use of the fantastic hydrotherapy pools in the spa, and enjoy Steve’s incredible stretching and relaxation sessions, my body stood up to the work surprisingly well.
I came home feeling energised and with my confidence for completing this year’s triathlons boosted – mission accomplished!
Choose from an F12 Tri weekend or design your own bespoke retreat with a group of friends. Enjoy a sprint distance triathlon at the end of the camp to put into practise your new skills.
Beginner’s weekends start from just £495 including accommodation, transfers, breakfast, sports nutrition and all coaching throughout the weekend.
Monarch operates year round flights to Alicante from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £38.99 one way (£69.50 return).
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine