MARCH 2017: Gosh, that went quick!
Another week in the Algarve. Over in a flash and I’m already looking forward to the next one.
It was three years ago that I first had the idea to set up a RunBrighton warm-weather training camp.
Nick Anderson of RunningWithUs told me about a training camp already set up, run by 2:09 Events, at which RunningWithUs organised the coaching.
I met 2:09 Events’ main man… London Marathon 1983 winner, Mike Gratton.
It transpired that his Algarve camp incorporated all the facilities I was looking for, and more… running track, gym, outdoor pool, indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna, plunge pool, cross-country course, beach running, cliff-top running, a local 5k race, massage, yoga, Pilates, strength & conditioning sessions, nearby bike hire, seminars on nutrition & various other topics – and lovely food and good weather!
There was no need for me to look any further.
image: 2:09 Events
image: 2:09 Events
In 2015 we took our first group out there and, a couple of weeks ago, 13 of us participated in RunBrighton’s third annual camp.
Actually, perhaps I should refer to it as a running holiday rather than a training camp. A training camp sounds a tad elitist. I’d not personally thought of it like that, but, apparently, some of our runners decided against coming along, thinking it all sounded a bit too serious.
Even some of our runners who came out this year said afterwards that they had originally been a little nervous about what they had signed up for.
But, having now experienced our ‘running holiday’ first hand, here are a few of their comments…
“I signed up for the Algarve running camp feeling like an imposter to be honest, especially given the patchy marathon training I have managed over the last few months.
However, it really was the best experience!
Firstly, it was great to go with a whole range of abilities from RunBrighton; we spanned all the way through from the 3hr group to the 5hr+ group so it was a lovely way to mix with lots of RunBrightoners, and we had lots of fun!
The camp was run by expert coaches and athletes, all of whom were on hand to give advice about anything over the course of the week, with some interesting seminars and one-to-one chats which were immensely helpful and motivating – access to expert help whenever you needed it!
There was no pressure to take part in everything; in fact we were encouraged to ‘cherry pick’ to suit our training, and to make sure we didn’t overdo things. Every morning started with the opportunity to go on a 3-5 mile run, with the choice of coming back along the beautiful beach, and, in the afternoon, we either had core, yoga or Pilates, followed by a track or cross country session.
We did our long run on the Sunday as we would normally (just more sunny than the usual RunBrighton experience)!
It was lovely to meet lots of other runners, swap tips, stories and occasionally talk about something that wasn’t running;-)
I really would recommend this trip to anyone, and apparently we see the benefit of all that training in a couple of weeks’ time, ideal timing for the marathon!
For someone who has struggled with fitting in the training, I am pretty sure that this has saved my marathon, and given me much more confidence in myself.”
“With this being my first time on the Spring Training Camp, I was a little apprehensive about what would be expected. These fears were put to bed upon taking on the first run on the day we arrived, when it was clear that there were people of all abilities taking part and everyone was welcomed and got involved.
The RunBrighton group spirit only got stronger as the week went on, especially with the people who ran together at a similar pace. This was transferred to the social part of the holiday, which was just as enjoyable an experience as the running. After all, we were on holiday and made the most of any downtime to relax and socialise. Meeting other people from the group and becoming friends was a big bonus for me personally.
The location offered spectacular scenery to run through.
The cross-country and track sessions offered a taste of something different and provided a challenge where new techniques and threshold running could be explored.
The Falesia 5km race was a personal highlight and offered the a competitive environment in which to test yourself against other runners.
image: 2:09 Events
The coaches were very helpful and knowledgeable, whether that was through introducing the sessions, one-to-one conversations or the numerous evening seminars.
The buzz around the camp was infectious throughout the whole week. People’s achievements, improvements and all-round good feeling culminated in a brilliant final evening of food and drink with the whole group.
I feel I am a stronger and more refined runner after the week in the Algarve, which I will carry through to the Brighton Marathon on 9th April. I can recommend going on this trip, whatever your ability, as there is so much you can take from a week of running fun in the sun.”
“As a first-time marathoner, the Spring Algarve running camp came at the perfect time in my winter training. It was a truly inspirational week, enabling me to break through the significant mental hurdle of running for over 3 hours, and really believing that I will actually be able to run a marathon!
This was largely due to the support, encouragement, camaraderie and vast amount of experience of others on the camp.
image: 2:09 Events
It was a privilege to run with past masters, elites and all my new running buddies. A week of immersion into all things running was decadence in the extreme but, even for a novice, never overwhelming or vastly beyond my capability.
And to be part of the Run Brighton team was the icing on the cake. Such a fantastic bunch of talented individuals in all aspects of life. The bond that we formed that week will see us through our respective marathons & personal goals and inspire us all to even greater things.”
“The whole trip was fantastic. A great mix of runners from elites to enthusiasts, but everyone all wanted to be there to run.
The coaches were excellent at involving everyone whatever level they were at. Being able to chat with the coaches there is a really big positive and they were more than pleased to speak to everyone.
The runs were varied and I managed to fit in some hard rep sessions, a long run, a tempo run and lots of steady runs. The sunshine just made it so much better.
The strength and conditioning session from Jenny Spink (2hr30 marathon runner) taught me loads of new exercises, and the talks in the evenings provided loads of great new tips.
On top of this, it was great to go out with the rest of the RunBrighton crew. I don’t think I knew any of them before I went out there, due to running in a different group, but, by the end, I left having made friends with a great bunch of people.
All in all, it is a great camp, nicely timed to get one last heavy week in before the Brighton Marathon and I look forward to returning next year.”
“This was a great trip for many reasons!
I went for the running, but came back with so much more!
My confidence has definitely been boosted. I did a great parkrun today, near to my best ever and minutes better than recent runs.
The information in the talks and accessibility of the coaches was great. Lots of tips!
Recovery yoga and Pilates with fabulous teachers.
Lovely weather, beach and food too!
Best of all I have come back with lovely new friends and running buddies.”
“This was my third year and it is becoming an interconnected and integrated part of my overall program…. sign up to Brighton Marathon in the summer, find I have put on 10kg – 15kg by November, join RunBrighton winter season, sign up for Algarve, train Jan/Feb…. Algarve in March, and then ready for marathon.
Have met many wonderful people and lasting friends in the last 3 years.
image: 2:09 Events
It is great fun – away from everything.
Train as much (or as little) as you want, great help always around, and a few nights out… Guinness as well!
“I was very apprehensive about what I had signed up for; I wasn’t sure if I would manage the training schedule.
I needn’t have worried – the whole week was about tailor-making your own training. For someone like me who was new to running, there was a lot to learn. However, due to the support and encouragement provided, I wasn’t overwhelmed by this. Instead each day was a milestone in improving my running.
I also met the most amazing people, all ready to provide guidance to help me improve and happy to ask my never-ending stream of questions.
The camp atmosphere was relaxed and very friendly. No matter how hard everyone had run, there was always time for banter and laughter. A lasting memory for me will be the cool-down in the pool at the end of a run, everyone packed in tight, sharing their experiences, and full of laughter and smiles.
I have had a chance to get to know my fellow RunBrighton friends better and make a whole bunch of new ones too.
It was a worthwhile experience which I would gladly do again. I have already been able to put what I’ve learnt into practice. I had a great, long run, running a greater portion of it than I’ve ever done, the overall affect has been to improve my confidence about being a runner and help me focus on my goals… I’m now starting look forward to the Brighton Marathon, 9th April.”
“As a very recent convert to running, and still a very slow one (who only manages 3 runs a week) I was very unsure if going to the training camp was a good plan. It was!
The value of a week away from ‘real life’ and the demands of work and home responsibilities is huge – catching up on sleep, the sunshine, lovely relaxed meals with new friends, strolling on the beach – oh, and the running.
There are several sessions on offer each day: short recovery runs before breakfast (barefoot on the beach), long runs, talks, core strengthening sessions, sports massage and so on. I opted out of the 5k race and never found the gym, but found time for lots of walking and even had time to swim & enjoy the jacuzzi. Having time to reflect on sessions, and to chat about concerns and ideas, gives a great opportunity to work out ways to progress in the way you want.
Having felt something of an imposter at the start of the week, I left on a high, after a great session with Tom, one of the coaches, who seems to think that I not only have another marathon in me but an ultra too! I finally accept that I am ‘a runner’!”
If you’d be interested in joining our 2018 ‘running holiday’, please drop me a line at email@example.com
By Mike Bannister