Romeu Training Camp

Report: Dave Turnbull -

Font Romeu Training Camp

The Lloyds TSB squad have built on the training they did in the last week at Font Romeu with solid sessions by the entire group before their return to the UK.

The mileage has been kept around 90 miles a week with conditioning and spinning bike sessions on top of that.

We were joined by the UKA hierarchy Charles Van Commenee and Ian Stewart who were looking for places to buy for athletes to stay in when at training camps and is part of the new thinking for UKA endurance.

One lady who doesn’t need any convincing that living and training at altitude has been a determining factor in her successes over the years is Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe. Paula has been living and training in Font for well over 10 years with husband and Coach Gary Lough and the benefits have been plane to see.

Steve Vernon who was instrumental in setting up the training camp had contacted Paula before our arrival at Font for any advice she could offer the group about training at altitude.

Paula and husband and coach Gary met with the group one evening at a local restaurant to give advice on training at altitude and the benefits that it can give athletes.

Important factors to take into consideration

  • Be fit before you go to altitude, you will acclimatise and get into your running sessions quicker, training hard at altitude is very hard on the body!
  • Sleep well, Paula Radcliffe said she sleeps 10-12 hours a day
  • Listen to your body and use a heart rate monitor the first four days are best kept to around 145bpm maximum.
  • If you feel you haven’t recovered from a session take it easy.
  • At high altitude training you need to eat more, on average between 400kc/600kc on top of your normal calorie intake at sea level because your metabolic rate is also higher.
  • Also, iron levels need to be maintained as they can drop due to the increased demand for red blood cell production so it is important to keep levels within the specified range this can be monitored at Font Romeu. (Athletes were blood tested with the results given on the day)
  • Hydration is also more important, we were consuming between 4 to 6 litres of water, also high concentration fruit juice and sports drink making up to a litre and a half to keep sodium and potassium levels topped up.
  • Vitamin E in the form of nuts to reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infection as this can be more of a problem at altitude.

On return

  • Build on the training you have done at altitude, but more importantly don’t kill yourself in training when you get back.
  • Use the next two to three weeks to race and see the effects on performance.
  • Lastly, our experience of training at altitude has been a new one for this group, trying it for the first time will have benefits apart from just the altitude and the red blood cell count. Training and living as a group of athletes is just as important as the altitude. Having more time between the bouts of hard training and being able to do the important relaxing stretching and recovery that you might get distracted from at home is a big plus and one that we will take on board.

We found the areas to train in good, with miles and miles of off road trails and traffic free roads, hills so many to choose from, a track that 6 inches of snow fell on at 7.30am one morning but the local council had it cleared within the hour to train on.

Medical back up is good sports doctors and physios in the village.

Gymnasium we found more than adequate, with a one off payment of 90 euros for 6 people and as much use as you wanted.

Train, eat, sleep – here is a typical day

8.15am – Caffeine intake, loosening stretch and hydrate as well as eating a small amount of carbohydrate

9.00am – Travel to training venue 15 minutes

9.15am – Active warm up and drills

9.45am – 11.30 am – Session, warm down, stretch, hydrate and eat carbohydrates within 30minute optimum window

11.45am – Travel back to apartment

Midday – Eat more carbohydrates and hydrate even more

1pm – Mobility and rest

3pm – Caffeine intake and light snack

4-6pm – Mobility followed by running session & mini-strength and stretching

6pm – Massage

8pm – Meal

10.30pm – Bed

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