Training Camp, Acoteias, Portugal, 2021
Finally we get the chance to go on a training camp to a sunny place again. The pandemic forced us to cancel our two planned training camps at Gloria Sports Arena in Belek, Turkey in both April and May of 2020. It happened again in January of 2021 where our training camp at Playitas was cancelled. So the fact that we finally got to this time was just amazing and it was such a nice feeling to be back in warm weather to put in some hard work.
However, because of the weird situation that's still ongoing in most of the world's airports, flights are hard to come by. Example: This training camp started at 02:00 in the morning where my phone started yelling at me, telling me it was time to go. I got a solid three hours of sleep. My teammates, Martin and Benjamin, came to pick me up in the fastest, greenest Kia Picanto in the world. Martin joined us on the trip as our official team therapist, so he had obviously brought his treatment table. I shared a backseat with that as well as 4 suitcases. Not a lot of room. However, I was able to sleep for the entire three hour drive to the airport in Hamburg. Lucky me. We joined the rest of the team at the airport in Hamburg, ready to go. We were a team of 11 people in Portugal; one coach, one therapist, and nine of Denmark's fastest sprinters. In other words - squad goals.
The trip was actually very relaxing. The total travel time was about 12 hours but because the airports and flights were kind of deserted, the entire trip was very easy-going with little to no stress. We got to the hotel, AP Victoria Sports & Beach, in Acoteias in the afternoon where our coach led a 45 minute shakeout session to get the travel out of the legs. Nothing too crazy at all; it consisted of some easy jogging, stretching, and running drills. After the shakeout, almost the entire team went down to the beach to watch the sunset and see the beautiful cliffs of the Portuguese Algarve coast. Good times and ready for a great training camp.
The First Five Days
We were in Portugal for a total of 10 days. Just enough time to transition from one training period to the next and get comfortable with the added intensity and volume as we train for the 2021 season. One of our early discussions at the camp centered around the fact that people usually just see the 'relaxing' part of training camps on social media - chilling at the pool, sunbathing, and relaxing in between sessions. That this is all we do couldn't be further from the truth - especially during this camp. I had decided I wanted to show as much of our training and as much variety as possible on social media. I wanted to show completely raw training camp footage on my social media, and I think I managed to do just that - without it interfering with our training and without coach getting annoyed at me for filming. However, I do enjoy media and creating content. It's been a big interest of mine since I started getting into it all the way back in 2010.
Alright, back to the training part. This training camp is usually the toughest of all our training camps. The volume is very high and the intensity also gets a big boost during this time. 3 hour training sessions under a scorching hot sun during this time is not uncommon. The first five days at the camp were the last five days of our very short general/specific preparation period. Most of us have to race at the World Relay Championships in Poland at the very beginning of May, so we need to maintain some of the speed from the indoor season. We have to do this whilst also adding more speed, more fitness, and more strength. A difficult task for our coach, but he's one of the world's best coaches, so I think he'll manage. The first five days in Portugal consisted of seven workouts - One shakeout, one acceleration/core session, two weight sessions, one specific strength and relay session, one aerobic session on the bike, and one top speed/anaerobic interval session. The top speed/anaerobic session was on Monday. Our first and only rest day of the camp was on Tuesday, so we knew it would be a killer session. 2,5 hours of top speed sprinting finished with 250-200-150-150-120 at 90-95% speed. Done! Thank god for Martin's magic hands and his comfortable treatment table. I felt like I had earned it after an amazing sessions and a great first five days.
The Last Five Days
My coach had planned it perfectly. He usually doesn't like when we move around too much on our rest days. Two volleyball accidents as well as a waterslide accident within the groups in the past couple of years kinda justifies that. Hint: I was the victim of the waterslide accident back in 2016. This rest day had the worst weather of the trip. So we all kind of just stayed at the hotel. Some played cards whilst others started on a Harry Potter marathon. However, most of us decided to head to the beach during the afternoon anyways. I went as well, but the waves were too big and the weather was too windy for my liking. Besides, if I started swimming I think my hamstrings would have cramped instantly. The tough session from yesterday was definitely still in the legs. Others were also complaining about their hamstrings being tight. But the rest day was great and it prepared us for the next week-ish of hard workouts. The last five days consisted of one rest day (the one on Tuesday) and five workouts. The workouts were: two sprint/block sessions, two weight sessions, and one long interval day. It was clear that we had transitioned into a new training period at this time. The volume was slightly less, but the intensity rose just a bit.
During our entire time in Portugal, we had warmed up with some relay exercises and done some tempo runs over 100-150m with baton passes. The team is coming together and I'm very optimistic about not only World Relays but the rest of the year for the relay team. Around the 7th and 8th day I really started feeling the fatigue setting in. It had already done so the day before the rest day, but at this point, my muscles also felt sore and achy. But if you want to progress and push yourself, you find a way to get the work done to the best of your ability regardless. Take the first block session we had down here for instance. It would have been stupid of me to expect that I would start like I did during the last part of the indoor season during this training period - let alone with heavy/sore legs. So I didn't. Instead, I decided to try and get through it to the best of my ability and just focus on hitting the right positions. I still got annoyed when my legs were heavy as lead and I couldn't start like I did during indoors, but I accepted it much faster that I would have done if I hadn't mentally prepared myself for a sub-par performance. It actually ended up being a good session anyways with some great relay exchanges as well. I can't stress how important it is to mentally prepare for training sessions like this. It prepares the mind for what's to come. We warm up our bodies before every training session - we also have to warm up our minds.
The last days of the camp went very well. I was still very tired but I rebounded well after a very bad day during the long intervals. The last two days consisted of power profile testing with shot put throws, relay drills and exchanges, a power weight session and the most specific session of the trip which was the last day just before we hopped on the plane back to Denmark. I did some starts on the bend with a baton to prepare for World Relays and then we did 150-150-120-120 at 90-95% speed off 6-8 minutes rest. I ran faster during this session than any other time during the camp - even with tired legs. The 120's were actually close to my PB without even running 100% effort.
The trip back home to Denmark was extremely relaxing once more because of the inactivity at the airports. And we arrived back in Hamburg all feeling very good. It seemed like all of us had had a great training camp - obviously with ups and downs. You can't avoid those, but all in all we were all very optimistic as we landed back home in Northern Europe.