I prefer the ocean above any lake, river, dam or in fact, above any water that has a slight colour of murk. I have claustrophobia and small enclosed spaces freak me out completely. So being in a wetsuit that presses around my chest AND putting me in water where I cannot see anything is a disaster waiting to happen.
I have had horrendous swims due to this and as a coach, I feel that it is very important for my athletes to get some ocean swimming experience before they do their first coastal race. The Infinitude “Vaalies” should not face the ocean the first time on race morning (or the day before for that matter). So during this camp, we always try to ease them into the swim by starting of in the lagoon in Kenton on Sea on Day 2 before heading to Port Elizabeth to do a proper open water swim on Day 3.
Both days started out with good swimming conditions, sunny, clear skies and barely any wind. But, the ocean should never be underestimated. The water temperature on both days were quite cold and a shock to bodies that have been training in 37 degree heat for two days. To add fuel to the fire (or ice to the gin) the lagoon and the ocean in Port Elizabeth had a very strong current they had to fight against on the return leg of the swim. Since we trained on the IRONMAN Africa Championship course, it was an important wake up call to those who thought they knew the course and to those who did their first ocean swim.
What do you do when the wind is blowing at 50km/h? You put them on the trainers of course…
A nasty wind ruined the trail run we had planned for the afternoon. Conditions were dusty with gusts making it risky and actually just plain unpleasant. So we gave them a little down time with the instructions to have their bikes set up on the trainers… Instead of the spinning class they expected, they got a massive threshold workout all to be done in the biggest gear possible. And just when they thought it was interval based, they had to get off the bike and do a few rounds of squats and squat holds before jumping back on the bike and get back at Threshold pace and hold it there for 5 min. Apparently the aircon was on in the room we used…it made no difference at all.
Big gear sets like this is aimed at building cycling specific leg strength. The athletes had to focus on holding good form, keep hips stable and control their knee alignment through the entire pedal stroke. ESPECIALLY when fatigued, because that is when the wheels come off. Just like we need to train our bodies and build muscle, we also need to train our minds to keep focus when our bodies are tired.
This set translated nicely into a solid bike session in Port Elizabeth when the group went out on the IRONMAN route and The Windy City, did not hold back on us. A solid head wind of about 32km/h was in our faces going out. It took no prisoners and blew us all over the road. It took a lot of control and concentration to keep the pace smooth and steady and not push too hard, too soon. Being on course this time and not in a follow vehicle, gave me a chance to take out my new TT bike and test it properly on windy flats and gradual inclines (check out the review that will be posted soon) and boy, it did not disappoint.
Can’t let out all the secrets, you have to attend a Training Camp…But let’s just say that you might have to look twice when entering your room, check your bed for things that go bump in the night and take a good look at your food before eating it….