The Ultimate Training Systems squad, usually based in Loughborough, have just returned from a very successful warm weather training camp across the pond in Long Beach, California.
Lead coach, Great Britain and Jersey international Zane Duquemin, spoke to Becki Hall about what he feels are the advantages and disadvantages to warm weather training, and gives his top tips about how to plan a successful camp!
Becki: What are the facilities like at the Long Beach camp?
Zane: The facilities are great. We’re fortunate that two colleges have agreed to let us use their throwing facilities for our camp.
For our lifting, we’re using a local public gym close to our Air BnB. With the global rise in popularity of CrossFit and weightlifting, most public gyms now have lifting platforms. That means it’s much easier for athletes to find well-equipped gyms these days when travelling for training camps.
Matt Beatty making the most of Long Beach’s array of lifting platforms
B: Why did you specifically choose to head out to Long Beach for your training?
Z: The good weather! I had also personally been to the area on camps before, so I knew the throwing facilities were good and I had made some contacts which always comes in handy. It was also an ideal location for travelling to competitions in the area that we had identified that we wanted to participate in. Our meticulous planning obviously worked well as we had some awesome performances in the competitions we participated in; George Armstrong’s 61.21m discus PB, Amelia Strickler throwing a 17.51m PB in the shot and Kirsty Law throwing 57.66m in the discus, which was her best throw since 2012, were just some of the comp highlights.
Kirsty Law getting some technical training in over in California
B: Was this your first warm weather training camp as a coach?
Z: No I’ve been on a few camps in recent years as a coach but this is by far the biggest group I’ve had to look after – or even babysit….! There were 9 athletes this time round.
B: Did you do any of your own training out there or did you just coach and babysit?!
Z: I’m still trying to get back to fitness myself after suffering with some shoulder problems for a couple of seasons so I squeezed in some of my own training where I could. However, finding the balance between coaching and training on camps like this can be tough. Being an athlete is physically and mentally draining in itself so add coaching in to the mix and it becomes a real challenge! Athletes are an interesting bunch, so coaching a group of 9 throwers alongside doing my own training will always be a tough task but it’s one that I thoroughly enjoy.
B: Did you meet up with any other training groups or squads when you were out there?
Z: We bumped into quite a few groups and different squads at the competitions we took part in, but we didn’t meet up to train with any. I was however fortunate to be invited down to watch the US throwers train at the Olympic Training Centre in San Diego which was a great learning experience!
B: What in your opinion – from your experiences both as an athlete and a coach – are the main benefits of warm weather training?
Z: There are many benefits. For starters, athletics can be a brutally tough sport mentally and simply getting away can be the break or change in environment necessary to spike a ‘buzz’ in an athlete and increase their motivation. There are also many benefits of training in a warm environment – with lots of Vitamin D! – where we know the body is in a much happier place which leads to improved training performances!
B: Are there any negatives to warm weather training?
Z: There certainly can be. Many athletes over-train on training camps because they’re away from the normal stressors of their everyday life and believe this opens the door for a much higher training volume to what they’re used to. This is obviously an injury risk and if you get injured on a camp in April that can massively disrupt the season.
B: Do you find it difficult to acclimatise back to training in the UK and the colder temperatures when you get back from warm weather training?
Z: Ideally we try to time it so that the weather in the UK is getting better once we get back. This allows for some continuity and the athlete can kick on from the camp but this is not always the case and sometimes you just have to put a few layers on!
B: What is the best warm weather camp you’ve ever done, either as a coach or an athlete?
Z: For me personally it was Leiria in 2017. My training was going really well and I made some breakthroughs which lead to a big training PB and set me up well for the season until I unfortunately developed an issue with my shoulder. I enjoyed how consistent I could be with my training on that camp as this is something that I know my body thrives off. We had quite a large group of British throwers training there as well as some Danish guys which meant we didn’t get fed up of being around the same people and the training environment was really positive.
B: What advice would you give to a training group wanting to plan a warm weather training camp?
Z: My top tips would be:
- Ensure you can access the facilities when you want to. I have been on camps where the facility is great but you can’t access it at the times that you’d like.
- Check if the facility has equipment or if you need to take your own.
- Shop around for accommodation. For big groups Air BnBs often work out cheaper.
- Look at the surrounding area….if you need some stimulation to break up the monotony of training then don’t go to a track in the middle of nowhere.
- Ensure you stay within budget by planning what you’ll do regarding food and transport once you’re on your camp. If you don’t have somewhere to cook then eating out can become expensive!
- Be smart when you choose who you’ll be staying with. A clash of personalities or staying with someone who’s a bad influence can ruin a training camp.
The whole Ultimate Training Systems squad – including coach Zane Duquemin (far left) – enjoying some down-time in California
All images are provided by coach Zane Duquemin and have been used in accordance with the under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license