Reflections On A Winter Running Camp

Some features of a good Winter Running Camp in this picture...a blackened toenail from running in new shoes...relaxing and recovering outside in the sun...water bottle in the background for keeping hydrated...

Definition of a Winter Running Camp
A Winter Running Camp refers to a block of training done away from your home base. What competes with Winter Running Camp time is not your work schedule, rather it’s your vacation activities (and associated fun!) instead.

Travel To & From Camp
For this Winter Running Camp, I traveled by car to my destination, which took 3.5 days of solid driving. As anticipated, travel presented a couple of unique challenges. Namely, I had to minimize hydration during the day to maximize miles driven. Also, sitting in the car for most of the day resulted in tight muscles. My fitness routine on these travelling days consisted of 40 minutes of elliptical machine and core work in the hotel fitness room each morning. Then, after reaching my destination for the day, I’d head out on a brisk walk for about an hour to loosen up the hips and do some stretching that evening. I’d also try to catch up on my hydration at this time.

For this part of my training block, I planned on these travel days being rest and recovery days.

Hydration / Nutrition / Recovery
With this Winter Running Camp being in a much warmer location than home, staying hydrated during the day was not an issue like it was for traveling to and from the camp. With nutrition, when preparing meals, recipes were kept relatively simple. Also, where I was, Mexican food was in abundance. Quick and easy recipes like veggie and meat tacos, burritos, and spaghetti for dinners and oatmeal and eggs for breakfast were the norm for meal prep. Just to add to recovery at camp, if the opportunity during the day presented itself for a nap, by all means it was taken!

Strengthening / Stretching

Strengthening & Stretching Equipment...exercise & yoga mats, leg weights, stretching rope, resistance band, and empty wine bottle. Yes, an empty wine bottle can serve as a replacement for the foam roller at Winter Running Camp!

The picture above shows the strengthening and stretching equipment I took to this Winter Running Camp. Of this equipment, if I had to do it all over again, I would really minimize what I brought - just a yoga mat, rope for stretching, and resistance bands. Then, if I found something else at the camp (like a free outdoor gym) it would be a bonus.

Stretching and strengthening sessions went differently than expected. Due to time crunch, I went to an abbreviated stretching routine one day followed by an abbreviated strengthening routine the next day, each lasting for about 10 minutes. I also did some hip mobility work after each run lasting for about 5 minutes.

Of the 30 days at Winter Running Camp, I got in 23 runs of varying distances and paces. Being unfamiliar with the location and terrain of this camp, I had to first find a route(s) to run. After a few days, I settled on a 10K loop with soft surfaces and away from cars. Then, I did extensions of this loop if my training plan dictated a longer and/or hillier run for that day. In an earlier post, I discussed my training plan for 2020 which you can find HERE and continued to follow it at this camp.

I found that scheduling my runs for the first thing in the morning worked best and highly recommend it for a Winter Running Camp. There is less scheduling conflict between running and vacation activity with the run taking place first thing in the morning. Also many afternoons at the camp had temperatures in the 25 - 30 degree C range.

Cross-Training Activities
With the scheduled run in the books by morning, it was easy for me to fit in other physical activities at some time during the day (for a cross-training session). Of the 30 days at Winter Running Camp, I went on 15 hikes and 5 bike rides (brought bike to this camp). These activities were sprinkled in among different sightseeing activities and visiting guests at the camp.

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Experiment of One Coaching covers topics ranging from running, strength training, health & wellness, sports nutrition to travel.