Work Hard, Rest Hard
Why training camps? Each spring (or whichever season describes the early part of your competitive year), athletes of all stripes head to different locales to train in groups, in better weather, or to spend some valuable time with his or her coach. But how much really changes? My old training partner, Olympic-probable Eric Lagerstrom, often points out that when other athletes talk about camp, they’re really just describing their normal training in a new setting. This is quite true. I’m in Carlsbad, California right now, with Amy and my training partner Heather Jackson, posted up in a beautiful house in the San Diego County hills. We’ll be here for twenty days, and training doesn’t look too different from normal: big days Wednesday and Saturday on the bike. Big runs Sunday. Long hard swims Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Short but hard runs sprinkled throughout. Easier rides wherever they fit. So why pull up stakes, go somewhere else for three weeks, spend a bunch of money on renting a house, driving the entire length of I-5, find coverage for our jobs and businesses? That might seem like a stupid question. Sure, the weather is nicer in Southern California than it is in Portland right now, but training effectively in Portland isn’t hard at all. It’s wet, yes, but the temperature is fine, the running is always top-drawer, and you can swim anywhere, really. The real value of a camp is not in the amount of training you can get in, or the convenience of nice weather, or the company of strong athletes—the value of a camp is the efficiency it provides: you can do more than you normally can, not by freeing up more time to train (there’s always more time to train, it just depends on how you feel about running/riding/swimming before light or after dark, or when you’re exhausted from work), but by freeing up more time to recover and rest.CB When Amy and I are back in Portland, chaos basically reigns. We both run our own small businesses: my coaching company has five coaches and 55 athletes, and Amy counsels high school through the byzantine, competitive world of college admissions. Like most long course triathletes, we fit out training in and around our work commitments. Training camp gives me, for a wonderful three weeks, the chance to fit my work around my training, and fit my training around my rest. I think most small business owners will sympathize that you can always work—if you’re not careful you find yourself logging 80-100 hour weeks. Long course triathlon also requires a bunch of hours (Heather and I are putting in 25-30 hour weeks; Amy is in the 21-25 range), but all that training requires a ton of recovery. Stepping away from Portland and getting out of my business bubble allows me to really focus on the work hard/rest hard equation. Here’s what a week looks like, coupled with appropriate recovery blocks.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Swim: 4500y with 15-20x100 hard Bike: 4 hr aerobic ride with a bunch of climbing Swim: 4500y race rehearsal Swim: Technique 4000m Swim: 5000m with hard 200s Bike: 4 hr tempo ride Run: 2 hours with lots of time at race effort
Strength/Core session CHILL, check in on athletes Bike: 4 hr mostly aerobic with short VO2 Max intervals Run: 75 minutes race pace intervals Strength/Core session Run: 30’ race rehearsal run off bike Bike: 2 hr recovery ride
PM: LEGS OFF, sit on sofa Run: 90’ track session CHILL CHILL PM: LEGS OFF, sit on sofat PM: CHILL, legs off PM: CHILL, legs off
Talk to athletes, write training plans, manage coaches 2500m recovery swim Run: 30 minutes, right before dinner Bike: 90’ easy recovery Talk to athletes, write training plans, manage coaches Early dinner, go to bed as soon as it gets dark Early dinner, go to bed as soon as it gets dark
  Chris Bagg           And that’s basically it! Wash, rinse, repeat for however long you’re at camp, and then schedule some time to really rest the week after camp. We’ll be here for three total weeks, putting ourselves in a pretty deep hole by the end of March. That kind of heavy training requires heavy resting afterward, cutting training volume by 50-70%, depending on how exhausted you feel. Many athletes train hard enough, but don’t rest hard enough, and they find themselves getting tired and slow by mid-summer. Camps are great for training stimulus, but you don’t get faster until you let that stimulus soak into your body. As my first cycling mentor, Captain Dondo, once said: “Riding your bike isn’t training. Lying on the couch afterward—that’s where everything actually starts to change.” -Chris Bagg Fuse Athlete   Chris Bagg is a professional triathlete who lives in Portland, Oregon, and runs Chris Bagg Coaching Group. He runs a camp that YOU can attend in Bend, Oregon every May, where you can experience the work-hard/rest-hard equation. He’s been a Fuse Lenses athlete since 2014, searching for sun whenever he can get away from Portland. Photography: Wattie Ink