Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lessons from the EC Tucson Camp

by Justin Daerr

A month ago, we wrapped up our eighth annual Endurance Corner Tucson Camp. Since EC’s founding, in 2007, we have hosted more than 20 training camps in a variety of locations, with the Tucson and Boulder camps being our primary staples. Each year we get the opportunity to meet and train with some great men and women from across the country (and even the world at some camps). Following each camp I try to reflect on what I personally learned from working with all these athletes. While there are usually similar trends in some aspects, there is always something new and interesting that I pick up.

These are just a few lessons I took away from the 2015 camp:

  1. Hearth health and overall wellness should be a priority for long distance triathletes. Larry Creswell, M.D. (@athletesheart), is a cardiologist and heart surgeon from Jackson, Miss., and he is also an avid triathlete, cyclist and long distance open water swimmer. He was gracious enough to do a presentation at our camp about several case studies involving athletes and heart disease, ranging from the tragic to the somewhat miraculous. The topic is an interesting one because it helps to show that exceptional fitness does not exempt all us from health risks. It’s important to get checked out and have peace of mind as you pursue your athletic goals. Dr. Creswell spent some time talking with the campers throughout the camp; you can read his responses to the most common questions he received in his most recent article.

  2. Stay engaged in group atmospheres. For the past few years, we have formalized our swim sessions to replicate the feeling of a squad while at the camp. This year we had 25 athletes which amounted to around five athletes per lane during a session. After the first day, I went around asking everyone what times they were holding based on the main set they were given. Unless the athlete was leading the lane, they tended to not know what times they were holding, or even what send off they were using. I find this to be typical when bringing together a number of athletes who are accustomed to training on their own, and are now surrounded by numerous athletes. However, I encouraged everyone to begin to engage themselves with the session; whether they were leading the lane, or swimming fourth or fifth, they should know what’s going on. This carries over very well when it comes to race day as you will know where you are amongst many, many others.

  3. Sometimes it’s better to not try so hard. This might come across the wrong way when taken out of context, but the notion of “stop trying so hard” came from me watching a number of athletes running 100m strides that were meant to be done quickly. I found several athletes were essentially getting in their own way by trying to run too quickly. Instead, I encouraged them to relax, focus and let the speed happen on its own. I know I personally tend to hit better numbers when I learn to relax into the session, despite it being a very challenging workout. I realize it seems like a paradox, but the next time you find yourself struggling, try to come back at the session in a more focused and relaxed manner. You might surprise yourself when you stop forcing a session to happen.

You can join the EC Team this summer at the eighth annual Boulder Camp, July 5-11. More information can be found on our Camps page.

Justin Daerr is a professional triathlete and co-owner of Endurance Corner. You can follow him on Twitter @justindaerr.
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