I’ve just returned from a training camp in Lanzarote. Organised by Ian Corless of RunWildRunFree and Martin Yelling of Yelling Performance, it was a friendly, small-scale camp for runners and triathletes of all levels, based at the famous Club La Santa.
One thing that made it particularly good this year (apart from the hotter weather which meant lounging round the pool was an option to even out the silly tan lines) was that loads of people that were there last year returned this year which gave it an even more holiday-like feel. And I persuaded my good friends Wendy, Eleanor and Lisa to come, too, which made it perfect.
Actually, lots of things made it good. Turns out I am probably fitter (or at least stronger) on the bike than I was last year. I was in the medium bike group which meant mainly biking with a load of blokes (but also the amazing Ellie Barnes sometimes – watch out for her at the European Triathlon Champs in April). Which meant I got dropped a lot. On the long hills at least. But with support from the other lovely riders in the group, I did manage to work hard and stay with the pack on some awesome efforts including a leg-melting, lung-bursting through and off session through the volcanoes.
I’m under no illusion that they often went a bit slower to accommodate me but they did show me that I can work harder for longer than I thought I could. That lesson alone got me a huge pb at the Salisbury 10 mile race three days after I got back. Happy days. Martin Yelling led that bike group and he and lovely Scottish Chris looked after me and towed me back to the group on more than one occasion. Martin – last year I thought of Nick Ripley’s bum while I was racing hard at Ironman Regensburg. This year at the Outlaw it’ll be yours!
Managing to sort out – almost – my wierd flicky hands in my swim stroke was worth all the two hour swim sessions that started in the dark at 7am. Many, many thanks to coaches extraordinaires, Dave Fletcher of Loughborough University and the legendary Dave Granger for all the help and time. I have already practiced the dragging finger tip drill since getting back. It was a key drill for me. Let’s hope it gets me a PB in the swim at Outlaw.
Running, again, wasn’t a priority for me at La Santa. Biking is my limiter so I was there to bike my legs off. And why wouldn’t I swap a crowded 25m pool in Basingstoke for a glorious open air 50m pool with top level coaching in the sun? But I can run anywhere. In fact I prefer running when it’s cold and it just takes too much out of my legs. So when my legs are battered from cycling alone, I didn’t want to increase the chances of them giving out on me on the bike by running too much. (That meant I didn’t get to be coached by Liz Yelling – again – but I know I was right.)
However, on the last day, it was just tooooo windy to bike enjoyably or safely for much more than about 5 mins. I’m sad about that because I know Martin had something wicked up his sleeve (definitely not a tissue ;-)) for our last day and I know that, even if I burst a blood vessel doing it, I’d have benefitted.
So on that windy day I went out for an easy long run along the wild, empty, sand duney, rocky coastal trail to Famara. No pressure. Just me and my ipod. It was really hard going out against the wind and I used a run 9 mins walk 1 min which is what I tend to do in an ironman marathon. But on the way back, with the wind behind me and Mumford and Sons in my ears I morphed into Lou Walker, running goddess and flew back without stopping, feeling strong all the way. It was one of those special runs and I’ll treasure it.
And then, I went and ran again, the next day before jumping on the plane. It was lovely to run with Eleanor along trails I’d not been on before. Ironically there was no wind at all. And we got rid of our hangovers.