The training sessions
Over the three days, we tackled run, bike and swim sessions. On a four-day camp you will do up to four sessions a day, but you can choose how much you push yourself. Because we were given just a flavour of what a full camp offers, we got off relatively lightly.
We had a three-hour session in the pool with Ralph. Once he had assessed our ability, he took us through a range of drills to improve our stroke, body positioning and kicking (including the zipper and scissor-kick drills).
My front crawl is weak, so I focused on mastering beginner-level skills. Ralph was the perfect instructor – he eased my ‘bottom-of-the-class’ fears and provided lots of useful training suggestions. The rest of the group focused on deep-water starts, drafting and dealing with the general chaos that often marks the start of a triathlon. On full camps you’ll hone your open-water swimming in the La Manga lagoon. This warm, flat and shallow body of water is the perfect place to develop confidence before your next race.
We had two cycling sessions on the camp, for which we split into two groups, based on ability. The focus in my (novice) group was on bike-handling skills, riding in a pack and tackling steep hills and descents – and our improvement over two days was astounding. The two more proficient cyclists were far more competitive, and tackled longer, hillier rides in the stunning La Manga region. The sessions were an excellent way to test and build fitness.
One of the advantages of the F12 camp is that if you don’t want to lug your bike there, or if you want a taste of what it’s like to cycle a top-notch bike, you can hire one for the duration. Rental is usually €70 per retreat, though this will depend on bike specifications.
Given the time constraints we managed just one run during the camp; the route took in sweeping, near-deserted roads that wound through a dry, hilly landscape: it reminded me of nothing so much as a slick car advert. Once again we were split up based on our abilities. After a long day of training, my legs were a little the worse for wear, but Felicity kept pace with me and provided encouragement, mixing friendly banter with handy tips on how to improve my technique and mental approach. Thanks to her company and encouragement, it was another satisfying session.
Stretching and recovery: We finished each day with a stretching and deep-breathing session to aid recovery. The stretches, led by Steve, targeted our hip flexors, lower back, glutes and hamstrings. They were the perfect way to end a day’s hard training, and they worked: we felt far fewer aches and niggling pains the following day than we had expected.
On the next page: Discover all the extras on offer at La Manga Club.