Monday, January 14, 2013

Para-camp #1

The 2013 cycling calendar year has officially begun. The para-cycling national team just finished its first camp of the year at the Olympic training center in Chula Vista, CA. Located closer to Mexico than San Diego, our camps in Chula Vista are always full of great riding, good weather, camaraderie and regular buzzes from border patrol vans. For many of us, this camp was the first serious block of training following the Games.

Camp began with routine blood tests and CompuTrainer testing for everyone to measure base fitness. Following our pre-breakfast blood tests, a simple ramp test was on the docket for the day. As someone who likes to train outside whenever possible, riding the trainer on a sunny, southern California day, was especially difficult. The mental fortitude of people who train indoors regularly is quite admirable, but I digress. After the first day of testing in the lab, we took to the road to validate our numbers from the previous day. One day consisted of a flat to rolling time trial out the one and only Otay Lakes Rd. The next day, we raced a hill climb up Honey Springs Rd. (For you yahoos that care about Strava, you can look those roads up.) Both courses are ones that we “race” on at every camp. After several camps, we have enough data to track our progress, compare strength to weight ratios and, of course, see who is the fastest at each camp.

Staying at the OTC is like staying in a bubble- the only thing that matters is your sport and your training. For camps, it’s great. Each day began with simple yet hearty breakfast. Every meal is prepared by the dining staff- nutritionists, dieticians and chefs- to provide a nutritionally balanced meal for all of the athletes at the training center. After several hours on the road we’d return to the training center, get cleaned up, eat lunch then begin the recovery process. Between using our personal recovery modalities- massage sticks, lacrosse balls to work out knots, and stretching- and those available in the sports medicine building- contrast baths, space legs, massages and chiropractic care- we were well taken care of. Our afternoon recovery sessions were followed by evening recovery rides. These are super easy rides to help flush any remaining gunk- it’s a technical term- out of our legs. Recovery is just as important as, if not more than, daily training. Without recovering, you can’t train to your full potential the next day or next session. That’s not to say you shouldn’t train if you’re fatigued, but it’s important to reduce the amount of fatigue you feel.

In addition to our on the bike training, we spent time in the gym throughout the week doing stretches, bodyweight exercises that we can do while traveling, and core work. We had group and individual sessions with our team’s sports psychologist to develop- or continue working on- visualization strategies, create game plans for meeting our goals and having an overall better mental state. We had team meetings to go over the race schedule for the year- which, in a post Games year, is sparse- and the expectations for all riders on the national team. Every rider is expected to meet standards upheld by the program. It’s an honor and responsibility to represent our country.

It was a full week of training, learning and growth on and off the bike. This was only a kickoff to what I know will be a great season for everyone. Stay tuned throughout the year for more training camp recaps and race reports as the season begins to kick up. Thanks for reading!

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