Helen Russell´s blog update preparing for Spain
Why warm weather training?
British age group triathlete Helen Russell is a Ciclo Costa Blanca Ambassador and will be having an extended stay with us this winter. Below she outlines some of the benefits of training in warm weather.
Each year when the days get shorter and the temperatures start to plummet I try to get away to do at least one week of warm weather training, usually in Spain. This year however I am lucky enough to be able to spend five weeks in Benidorm training with Ciclo Costa Blanca. From my Twitter and Facebook timeline it seems that most of the pro cycle teams are at a training camp but it’s not just the pros that benefit from warm weather training, as a stay in the sun is also beneficial for amateur and recreational athletes.
Obviously the main benefit of warm weather training is the sun. It is much easier to get up and train when the sun is shining. But not only is the sun a great motivator, it can also have wider training benefits.
Firstly, the warm weather means that muscles are more pliable and therefore the risk of strains and muscle tears is reduced. The cold weather can tighten muscles resulting in injury if athletes don’t do a proper warm up. Of course training in the warm does not mean that you can skip the warm up as it is still necessary but the length of it can be reduced.
The sun is a natural way of getting a daily dose of vitamin D. Some research has suggested that a lack of vitamin D can result in sports related muscle injuries. Other research has suggested that the vitamin actually improves reaction time, muscle strength, speed and endurance. Apparently in the 1950s and 80s German and Russian athletes used sunlamps to stimulate vitamin D production to increase performance and reduce injuries!
With many competitions taking place overseas in warm climates, British athletes often train overseas to get used to exercising in the heat. It is better to have experienced conditions as close as possible to those on race day before the actual race and to have experimented with hydration and cooling strategies before racing.
As mentioned before many of the benefits are psychological. It is often said that a change is as good as a break and a warm weather training break can be a great motivator, help renew athletes focus and gives athletes the chance to train and recover without other daily distractions. This is especially good for amateur athletes who can escape work and train and recover like the professionals for a week or two.
Obviously there are some negatives. Heat stroke and sunburn can ruin a training holiday but that can easily be avoided by keeping hydrated and using sun cream. It is also tempting for amateurs to rush into doing too much training thus risking injury. Again, that can be avoided by easing yourself into the training or following a well -structured training plan that gradually increases volume.
Unfortunately the main negative, which isn’t so easily avoided, is the prohibitive cost of many overseas training camps or warm destinations. However, Ciclo Costa Blanca offers a range of guided or self-guided packages and accommodation offers to suit every budget- so you really can live the lifestyle of a pro for a while!
In short, warm weather training, if done properly is definitely worth doing to improve performance and help to gain that extra edge come race season. I can’t wait to get mine started!