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A triathlon camp is a fantastic idea if you’re able to get away for three days to a week. There, you’ll not only sharpen your knowledge about proper nutrition, training techniques, and race strategies, but also enjoy the fun of bonding with a small group of people by suffering through excessive amounts of pain together. Although a local triathlon club is an excellent resource for finding a reputable triathlon camp nearby, if you’re looking to experience a destination camp with top-notch coaches in an inspiring setting for swimming, running, and biking, I recommend these three.
GPP Endurance training camp; Arkansas
If you need a quick tune-up just prior to the start of the season, a prime choice in the East is the GPP Endurance training camp, held in late April in the Ozarks in Rogers, Arkansas. The spring weather is exceptional there for training, and the roads in the surrounding state parks and preserves are hilly, winding, and relatively quiet. The camp, an intense three-day program, open to all ages and abilities, is organized by GPP Fitness, an Arkansas-based training outfit run by Ironman veterans who are also USA Triathlon–certified coaches. Each training day consists of group runs, rides, and swims—all catered to your performance goals—along with massage-therapy sessions and evening seminars. Bike-fit and underwater-swim diagnostics are available. Minus such add-ons, the basic cost is $325.
X3 Endurance training camp; Tennessee
Its surrounding rivers, country roads, and sprawling, mountain-fringed nature preserves are what entice many hardcore athletes to make their home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Those assets are also what make the city an attractive location for the Ironman that’s held each year at the end of September. Nashville-based training group X3 Endurance organizes three three-day training camps in preparation for the big race—one in March, and the others in June and July. Sessions, which run $250 to $300, focus not only on training strategies and mental preparation for doing an Ironman, but also on how to specifically plan for, and tackle, the Chattanooga course itself.
CTS Triathlon School; Arizona
On the corporate—but completely efficient and impeccably organized side—you’ll find the CTS Triathlon School, in Tucson. Its initials stand for Carmichael Training Systems, the fitness outfit operated by Chris Carmichael, who lists multiple professional Ironman champions, as well as Lance Armstrong, on his coaching resume. At this camp for all skill levels and distances, held in the winter and early spring to kick off the start of training, you can sign up for as few as three, and as many as ten, days. Campers participate in two to three daily workouts with the coaches, running on trails in the beautiful Catalina Foothills community just north of town, swimming in a saltwater pool, and riding on quiet mountain roads in the desert. You’ll also have access to CTS’s world-class athlete labs, where (at extra charge) you can get properly bike-fitted or have your VO2 max and lactate threshold tested to improve training and performance (camp prices start at $275 a day).
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