Behind The Scenes in Mallorca with Challenge Tri Camp

If you have ever been on a training camp you might have seen it all running smoothly with the coaching team seamlessly taking you from one activity to the next and just joining in with you. As some guests like to joke with us, “it’s a big holiday for you”! Well we are now three weeks into our sell out Spring training camps and fully back in the swing of it! After a long break due to the pandemic we are loving being back doing what we love and it is great fun welcoming returning guests and meeting new ones, but we had forgotten how demanding it can be and thought we would share what we get up to on the other side of the stop watch!! 

So our training day normally starts the night before with a coaching meeting post evening meal to go over the next day’s bike ride. This involves us discussing the groups and abilities of riders we have and how we will divide the ride up. Along with the best meeting points to bring everyone back together, which coaches will take which guests and what we think the average speeds are going to be, where we might split up more and how we can coordinate all coming to the café stop at approximately the same time! We also finalise the session plans for the other sessions which will happen around the ride and check weather forecasts. We do this in our office or sometimes in a quiet corner of our favourite bar ‘Bike Point’ over the road from the hotel.

It’s then bed time around 10:30pm (we stay in the hotel with the guests) but before we hit the sack we are at the washing machines taking our kit out of the dryers and hoping its not still damp for tomorrow!! Over the years we have become experts in kit prep and washing and drying our kit every day is all part of it – some of us even wash it in the shower post ride to save washing machine time!!

The alarm goes off normally around 7:00am, but we are normally up before that, checking the go pro camera is charged, or over the road on the beach looking at the sea conditions or even back in the washing room doing a final kit drying session! It’s then onto pool side to check in with the hotel lifeguard, make sure our lanes are clear of any other swimmers and getting the set written up on the whiteboard. Swims usually start at 8:00am and its now 7:45 and athletes start to arrive. Lots of “mornings” and “how you feeling” before sending a few back to their rooms to collect forgotten swim toys or drinks and then start the land based warm up. 

Now the fun part, getting them in the water, we have moved lanes this morning, so what was lane 6 is now lane 4 and some confusion as to being in the correct lane but once all in and Garmin’s on swim mode and the daily question of “which button do I press” we are ready to push off.  A 60-90 min session of timing, counting strokes, analysing technique, talking to the athletes individually about some teaching points and running the overall session make this wizz by, before saying a quick “hola” to Mario Mola and Javier Gomez as they arrive poolside to start their swim session as we are getting out. It is amazing sharing a hotel with such great athletes and as these are both Olympians and World Champions a lot of our guests recognise them so a few quick photos are taken.

We then hit the restaurant around 9:30am and normally get in 10 minutes or so before the athletes who are back to their rooms drying off – we use this 10 mins to check the tables are all ok for when they arrive and then start eating breakfast while quickly discussing the day as a team. Once athletes start arriving we split up and spread ourselves around the tables and get into chatting about all sorts of things from questions about the day and the favourite one “where are we going, is it hilly and how far is it” to who is eating the most breakfast, to what athletes families are doing back home and of course some World news! By now we have normally been up and down to the buffet a few times and after a range of smoothies and breakfasts from eggs to croissants to muesli we ensure all the athletes know what activity is next and what time to meet and then we head back to the office.

So its bike ride time soon and its around 10:00am. We are setting off at 10:30am so a last discussion in the office to finalise route details and discuss anything that’s come up with athletes over breakfast, then we head off back to our rooms to quickly clean our teeth and get changed into our cycling kit. Its then straight down to the bike garage to collect our bikes and meet the guests at our bike set off point. Normally there is a last minute bit of panic, someone has a puncture, has forgotten their helmet, can’t find their bike key to unlock their bike etc but we keep everyone calm and get the issues sorted before we split into our ride groups. Once in our groups we do a daily safety chat and discuss the route with the athletes and talk about the café and how far it is until we will be eating again!!

We are off, well nearly! One of us has forgotten our first aid kit (it’s not just athletes who forget things!) so it’s a quick dash back to the office and an apology to the athletes and then we hit the road. So our plans of which group was starting first has gone out the window with that delay, but all groups are off and heading for today’s ride which is the mountains.

Although we are clipped in and pedalling, it is not a bike ride for us. Our guests are the athletes and it is their holiday and they should be the ones enjoying it – head wind and all!! Our job is to facilitate the ride and provide a great experience for them. We ensure they do a scenic route, can work together as a group, don’t get lost or anyone left behind and ensure they all stay safe and challenged at the same time. We make decisions on route changes if we have to, when to be riding in singles or doubles, when to warn the group about upcoming obstacles, where to stop when someone needs a toilet break, how fast or slow we need to keep the group going, what to do if we approach another cyclist, when to change the group around so everyone gets a turn on the front and so on. The ride goes so quickly for us as we are always thinking about the group and of course talking to the guests as we ride along.

Two ish hours later we hit the café at the top of the climb and it’s straight in to speak with the owner, making sure the tables are set up or finding a space for us all so we can sit together. Then with a bit of Spanglish (we now know the word for Vegan meal) we make sure everyone has ordered. We then enjoy some more chatter with the athletes, have our favourite lunch a local pa amb oli, (if you have never had one of these you must try it) and then once we have checked everyone has paid what they ordered, we discuss the next part of the route. It is now a downhill section, so we go over what this looks like, some safety advice and descending skills. 

With all athletes fully fuelled and a quick coaching discussion on the meeting point at the bottom, we are off again. With coaches at the front leading the faster ones, some in the middle checking the group, while the others at the back making sure the more nervous descenders are comfortable and reassured. Our job is to know the roads and aid the athletes in getting down safely and to all re group at the bottom. A mountain day is always different to a flat ride with a group as it brings out different aspects of riding skills, but we enjoy working on these with the athletes. It’s also always nice to have an athlete do something new and normally one or two have never climbed a Mallorcan mountain, so it’s nice to be a part of that experience with them. 

We are back from the ride and its around 3:30pm and a few athletes are looking tired, one of them has never ridden so far, but we have another session to do. They know it’s a run but we have not told them how far but we have made it laps near the hotel, so we can control how much they do. We send them down to the bike garage to put bikes away and trainers on, while we wait at the start of the run lap for them to come bolting out ready to run.  It’s more of a steady flow but once all out and running it’s a fun atmosphere as we encourage them to buddy up and run steady with each other. We might join in with one or two laps, but we try to stay away from too much running as we have a lot of weeks still to do! So counting laps, offering encouragement, looking at run technique of the athletes and seeing if we can get anyone who has finished to buy us an ice cream is more of our job during this session!

Still in bike kit, we cannot wait to get out of it so do a quick change, shower if time, then head to stretching which we do in the hotel conference room or on the grass outside. If it is a video swim analysis session (we shower for that one!) we set ourselves up in the office and do 15 minute one to one swim analysis feedback for around 90 mins to 2 hours.  Lots of discussing arm entry, body position and stroke rates, we have done this we think over 5000 times as a team so know what to look for and pick out only one or two pointers for the athlete to work on through the week with us.

So it’s now 7:15pm and most of the guests have headed in for dinner, we are a bit late as just finishing off the swim analyses and then go to the restaurant to join them. More fun chat with the athletes discussing the climb, their swim videos and random other things.  Two or three plates of food later (luckily the hotel has a different theme of food each evening so we don’t get bored of it)  its 8:15pm and we have a athlete briefing at 8:30pm to discuss a mini tri event we are doing tomorrow. Once a week we do an individual effort across the three sports so need to brief the athletes on what this involves.  We don’t tell them at the meeting how much they are doing so as soon as the meeting is over and the athletes are heading back to their rooms to get some well-deserved sleep we sit as a team and plan their timings and distances for the next day.  We base this on a range of things from the distances they normally race, their experience, how they have done on the week, what injuries they have etc, so it’s not quick decision for each person but once it’s done we get it into excel and up to reception to get it printed out so all the coaching team have a copy – just a bit of bed time reading! 

10:30pm…Time to hit the sack, oh wait we need to sort the washing out!!!

So we hope that gives you a little insight into what we do on camp. It is hard work and lots of hours but we love it. We enjoy the physical side of it but also like to find out what each athlete is doing with races and their training but we often get asked questions ourselves.  The main one people ask us is if we train ourselves or what our races this year are. We of course have raced in the past but as you can probably see above we don’t have time for our own training and feel it would not be right to be trying to do it anyway.  Our job is to provide a service to our guests and when we are on camp it is not about us, we don’t want to be tiring ourselves out doing our own training and prefer to save our energy for the athletes.

Challenge Family and Challenge Tri Camp will be hosting more camps towards the end of 2022 and Spring 2023…for more information contact us at helen@challengetricamp.co.uk or visit the website www.challengetricamp.co.uk

Want to chat to us or find out more about our campscoaching and race team, get in touch we are always happy to talk triathlon!!

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