The At Home Training Camp with some Olympic inspiration

"You can't leave footprints in the sands of time if you're sitting on your butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?" – Bob Moawad

One of the questions I get a lot is “What is a typical week for you of training?” That is a tough question because training is a very fluid endeavor, so week to week my body might need a different stimulus to get the same response. I change my training according to how I feel. However, there is one thing I have been doing for a number of years that has been working very well and it is the winter training camp series with Pacificsport. My coach, Houshang Amiri, the head coach at the National Cycling Center has been running week long winter training camps here in Victoria that I have participated in that I find really help to boost my cycling fitness in the off season. In this article I am going to catalog a “week in the life” of Melanie so that there are no secrets in the kind of work I do in the off season to try to become a stronger and faster cyclist…

This training camp was six days long. However, my week starts on Monday with a “rest day” from the previous week. This time around I had a 24 hour week to recover from before starting the camp, so Monday started with some organizing time on the computer for an upcoming trip, one hour of yoga with the Triathlon Center, a massage, a trip to visit Doctor Day the chiropractor and a little easy swim. I felt like crap after the massage and adjustment so my swim was about 1000m because my body felt run over by a truck. I get deep massages on Monday which I can’t do anything but drink water and rest after, so the swim suffered. Today was highlighted by watching the Canadian women’s hockey team kick booty and take home a gold medal.

Day two of Melanie’s camp is the sole running day for this week since I can’t add running to the volume of cycling planned. The day starts with a 4.5km swim where we were working on strength and speed, a hard set where the focus was on efficiency. I was okay for efficiency but I don’t have a lot of specific fitness for swimming yet. The next workout was on the treadmill with the idea to run a steady tempo but nothing too hard that I can’t recover by tomorrow and the first day of the cycling load. I did a 20 min warmup,20 minutes at 4:00/km with a 5 minute break and then 2x5minutes at 3:50/km with 2 minute break. The whole run was about 75minutes. Felt good to do it, as it got my legs turning over a little faster. After, I did an hour spin with 30 minutes on rollers doing the spin up workout I talked about in a previous article and 30 minutes on Powercranks alternating core exercises. Then I watched Chandra Crawford of Canada win the cross country sprint gold medal. Dark horse out of the blue wins Olympic gold – spectacular!

Day three starts the cycling load. I did a 3.5h ride which was fairly flat just to put in some endurance miles to start. In the afternoon I did a second ride on the rollers and Powercranks for 45 minutes with some core work to get the volume up and watched a bit of Olympics. Highlights were a string of fourth place finishes by Canadians (look out 2010!) and lowlights were the Austrian cross country ski team rooms being raided.

Thursday morning was off to a good start when I watched Cindy Klassen and Kristina Groves win gold and silver in the 1,500m speed skating event. This is the first day of the whole Pacificsport group training together and there were probably about 25 elite level cyclists (from senior elite to espoir to junior) all training together. Of that 25, about 8 lasted until the final day of the camp due to the volume of training and the number of outside commitments for each individual. We started with a time trialing day, where we do a 5km uphill time trial which we compare to previous efforts and then a 17 km flat time trial we usually only do one lap of but this time we were doing two laps. It was a wet and nasty start to the day so my legs took some time to get going. My uphill time trial was well off my best by about 45 seconds and I didn’t have a time for the second time trial but I am sure it wasn’t very fast either. Headwinds are hell. After finishing the 4.5h ride I went to the pool to get a 3.5km swim in, ended up jumping in with Neil’s (my swim coach) 10-12 year olds and raced a bunch of IM stuff (which most triathletes totally suck at, myself included). It was fun to get in with a bunch of 2012 Olympians who have boundless energy and enthusiasm.

Friday morning was our first hard climbing day. We rode 80 km around the Peninsula to a road called Willis Point. This is an out and back climbing road that has steep sections and long gradual climbing sections. This is Houshang’s favorite road, and we were going to ride it four times. Erinne Willock and I are great training partners, and she is a great climber, so her and I pushed each other according to where we were strong on the road and ended up riding very well. At the peak of the road on our fourth repeat we were both cross eyed and Houshang said that was enough – thankfully! 150km and five hours in the can with a new watts record and I sat on the couch in a coma for the rest of the afternoon. Olympic lowlight – every paper had the Canadian men’s hockey team on the front cover for the disgrace of being eliminated. I could have called that before they left North America. They flew over so late that they played all their preliminary games blinded by jetlag, skating lethargic, complaining about not being able to get going. Come on guys! It’s the Olympics! Get your asses to Italy IN ADVANCE! Take this stuff seriously! As was the case, in general, at least our Canadian women were good.

Saturday was the second seriously brutal day. We rode from Sooke to Port Renfrew, about 150km of rolling climbs. Most were less than 5 minutes, the one out of Port Renfrew was a bit longer but the hard part is the climbing never stops. We rode out with a bit of a tailwind and back with a headwind and Max and Derek turned up the volume making the pulls 35-39 km/h. Erinne and I were hanging on for dear life, dropping our pull time to one minute at the speed required but still were at the front. It was AWESOME! Broke yesterday's new average watts record. We started the ride about three degrees and snowing so we were lucky it got slightly better instead of a lot worse. The Olympic highlight for Saturday was seeing former cyclist and fellow national team member Clara Hughes win a gold medal in the 5,000m speed skating event and watch her team mate Cindy Klassen win her FIFTH medal in the same event to become the most decorated athlete in Canadian history at one Olympics. Pretty incredible!

Sunday was our second to last day. The weather was crap, spitting rain and cold. The day’s workout was four laps of our favorite time trial loop as a team time trial effort. We rode in a group of six taking 30-40 second pulls at the front for about an hour. Boring yes, but the time actually went by pretty fast. From all the climbing we have done over the last few days you would think that a flat day would be nice but no, it was not that nice at all. It hurt. The ride was just over 4:15 and the afternoon was a session on rollers working on cadence bringing the day up to five hours. No swimming today because with the cold and the amount of fatigue I am building up, I am afraid of public spaces. My swimming is going to suffer but I refuse to end up sick and on antibiotics again. Olympic highlight – newly crowned Olympic champion Clara Hughes donates $10,000 to Right To Play. She is so gracious and classy and now she can add philanthropist to her amazing list of great qualities. So proud of her!

The last day started with a quick viewing of the closing ceremonies which included a prelude to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics which will be so great to have so close to us here. Lots of coverage in the paper of Brad Gushue, from Newfoundland, who won the curling event which I know most of our American audience will be like, what is curling? Well, curling is a pastime which I believe is enjoyed in very cold regions of northern countries where it becomes warmer to hang out at an ice rink than outside. It is an event like lawn bowls, which is also an Olympic event, so it is only fair to include curling if that is the case. That being said, this great team managed to inspire an entire province, which declared the Sunday they were playing for the gold medal at the Olympics a day off to watch it, for everyone! The entire province shut down to watch the Olympics. If that isn’t good for kids I don’t know what is, even if it is curling they are watching so good for Brad for getting ‘er done! Our ride was supposed to be short and sweet, and it was short, but it was not easy. The windiest day of the camp we were riding next to the ocean where it was the windiest all the way out to East Sooke where we enjoyed more hills like our Port Renfrew ride, adding climbs like Mt. Matheson road and all the joys of East Sooke and Gillespie. Erinne and I toughed it out to hammer the last few nails in our coffins with 4 more hours of fun and then called it a wrap.

I skipped my swim that night. See the note on trying not to get sick.

So that was the “at home” training camp. My next report will be from the “away” camp as I join the Triathlon Canada camp in Tucson on Friday to do a more “triathlon” focused camp. No Olympics to entertain me while I lie on the couch recovering, but lots of funny people to substitute for television. I really need to get in the pool this week to get ready for that camp!

One last note, Canadian CHICKS won 67% of our medals… how cool is that?

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