Posted by: Dennis Green | April 15, 2013

This One Time, At Tri Camp….

By Dennis Green

Heart of America Triathlon News

Most of us train and prepare for races using a combination of tips from friends, research from books and online articles, and a lot of trial and error. But while there are no shortcuts to success, one way to eliminate some of the trial and error part is to seek professional help.

For two Eastern Iowa triathletes, triathlon camp has become an important part of their training toolbox.

Jenny Lorenz, 52, from Marion, and Barry Breffle, 42photo, from Cedar Rapids, are well-known on the Heart of America circuit. Both regularly place at the top of their age groups and sometimes sneak into the overall awards. They’ve also each qualified and raced at Kona.

The idea to trek to Colorado for a week of intensive training came from Barry.

For years, he had followed the career of Gordo Byrn, a professional triathlete and coach whose career highlights include an Ultraman World Championship.

“I’d read him since the early, early days of the Internet,” says Barry, “on a listserve called Dead Runners Society. He made his career in finance, then got hooked on triathlon and has performed at the elite level for years.”

Barry attended several of Byrn’s coaching clincs, offered through USA Triathlon, and when Byrn’s company, Endurance Corner started offering training camps, he looked into it.

Endurance Corner offers two camps, a spring camp in Tuscon, and a summer camp in Boulder. Barry and Jenny agree that for a Midwestern triathlete, the summer camp generally fits in better with the average  midwest training schedule, where you have to lay off at least some training over the winter.

photo_1Jenny says getting to totally focus on training is a real treat. “You’re in an environment where that’s all you’re doing for the whole week. Eating, sleeping, breathing triathlon. You don’t have work, you don’t have any outside distractions. You’re learning from some of the sport’s best minds.”

Training averages four to six hours a day. The rest of the time is filled with clinics, and capped off most nights by dinner, usually featuring a guest speaker.

The Boulder area is home to many professional triathletes. Barry says they are able to tap into that community for speakers and clinicians.

“Christy Wellington came to speak to us, Craig Alexander, the Bennetts (former Olympians Greg and Laura) did a transition clinic that was super, super fun. Joe Friel, who’s like the original triathlon coach; Bobby McGee, Olympic running coach.”

Jenny says she profited from the ability to really drill down and focus on things she needed to improve on.

“Over the years, I’ve been chronically injured in my running. Part of the problem is I over stride. And when they brought Bobby McGee in to do the running clinics with us, he can look at your run gait and tell you, ‘Ok, here’s how you can become more efficient, here’s how you can use less energy so you can run longer.’ And just little things. He did drill work with us, dynamic warmup exercises to help us learn how to recruit certain muscles. And I’ve worked ever since going to camp to try to change my running style, so I can be more efficient.”

Of course, for us flatlanders, training at altitude adds yet another dimension to the process.

Barry says the effects kind of sneak up on you. “Right when you come to altitude, you’re OK. It’s the second or third day when it hits you. You notice it swimming the most, that it’s hard to get enough oxygen.”

“And I notice it at night,” adds Jenny, “when I’m laying in bed, that my heart rate will run higher.”

Both agree that while you have to get acclimated, altitude shouldn’t be a reason not to do the camp.

Most of camp focuses on the bike and the run, but swimming is not left out.

IMG-20120621-00277“We usually do two open water swims,” Jenny explains, “but it’s really cool. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Boulder Masters group does swims in the Boulder Reservoir. They bring out buoys, and mark off a 1000-meter course. There are kayakers so you can go out and do a race simulation.”

Barry says it’s one of the prettiest swims you can imagine. “You have the mountains on one side, hot air balloons on the other, you’re swimming next to the Bennetts. I’m pinching myself.”

The week culminates in an actual Olympic distance race. “Which is interesting,” says Jenny, “to go into a race after you’ve been smashed all week. You’re trying to go hard, at altitude.”

Interesting is one way to describe Barry’s 2012 camp experience. He broke his collarbone in a bike accident, but hung around till the end of camp, so that Jenny didn’t have to quit early.

Injuries and altitude aside, Barry and Jenny agree that it’s a tiring, but fun experience, and recommend it to any serious triathlete looking to amp up their game.

Registration is open for the 2013 camp. Barry and Jenny are both signed up to return. If you’re interested in joining them visit http://www.endurancecorner.com.

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