As I fly back from Guatemala I reflect on a very hectic weekend training camp. It doesn’t matter where you go, it’s always a privilege meeting grass-roots triathlon people. The motivation of age-group athletes in pursuing their swim, bike, run hobby with such discipline while fitting in work and family life never ceases to amaze me.
I’m similarly awestruck by the enthusiasm for our sport in places where the infrastructure is not necessarily suited to triathlon. Too often we take for granted having a 50 metre pool in every second suburb in Australia or the thousands of kilometres of safe riding roads across Europe or the US.
That said, Coach Luis’ set-up is absolutely top class (with 60 athletes it has to be!) and it was clear from the get-go that training facilities here would be no barrier to good performance.
As for the camp itself, I was shocked to turn up to the first swim session and see that nearly every age group athlete had been taught to swim using the Sutto Total Body Force swimming technique.
Not just some of the ‘weaker’ swimmers, but three lanes of athletes all using the same method and getting that rhythm and balance that is so important in the water. I was absolutely chuffed as Coach Luis reported that since changing to the new principles many had cut their swim times down by as much as 10 minutes. So on stroke technique I honestly had very little work to do. Instead we used the time to have a talk about paddles, pull-buoys and the importance of picking the right training gear to suit your body.
The running was a similar story as all had already made great gains with Coach Luis’ approach to efficient running speeds in the appropriate heart rate zones. With no speed work at higher than 15 beats below maximum, his squad has seen massive improvements across the board.
The camp was also a great opportunity to scout a couple of locations where in the future we may consider putting a high-altitude pro camp on for the early season build up. Guatemala is on the same time-zone with Rio.
We finished with a brilliant dinner at an Italian restaurant where we talked about champions, both new and old, and I was able to point out that many hold the same frailties and insecurities as the people sitting in front of me.
Overall it was a wonderful three days. Thank you to Luis and his better half, Guisella, who had me staying in a beautiful hotel and taxied me around to all the training. I hope to be able to go back to Guatemala in the future with my family to discover a country full not only of hardships, but of long-lasting culture and pride in their ancestral past. Truly a magical place.