Last weekend I took a trip over to Lisbon in Portugal, to recce the area and facilities of the company who approached us to run training camps. Lisbon South is the brain child of Antonio Barbosa, a bike shop owner and keen cyclist, who didn’t see why athletes weren’t coming to Portugal as much as they do to mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands or the Canary Islands for warm weather training. What he has done is put together a package that hopefully will suit athletes of all levels from novice to elite, individuals, groups and families.
Lisbon South is situated in Alcochete, a little village on the south of the River Tejo. When I arrived at the airport in Lisbon, rather than taking the 20 minute drive over the river to the hotel initially, we went and explored west of Lisbon, toward the beautiful Cascais, Guincho beach and Sintra. It is this side of town that Antonio has his bike shop with his business partner Joao, and as a Trek bike dealer gives him the opportunity to rent out top level Trek Madones – as well as offering lots of other support (spares, mechanic, sports nutrition, GPS etc). Unfortunately you can’t ride over from the base to this area – bikes aren’t allowed to be ridden across the Vasco de Gama bridge, but it can be arranged to transport bikes over to Sintra to ride around the region. What really struck me was that even in the car, at rush hour, once we were out of the city itself, the roads were almost empty bar cyclists!
While I was in Portugal I had the opportunity to swim, ride and run. One of the services that the Lisbon South package offers is guides for bike routes – and at speeds to suit! If you are an experienced, high end athlete, Joao will lead you a merry dance across the varied countryside – he has raced at Portuguese elite national championships on the road and mountain bike. Don’t let this put you off however; if you are just starting out or feeling more circumspect on a bike, Antonio knows the area well – and his good humour and knowledge will keep you interested on whatever rides you feel up to. If neither of these options are up your street, and you just want to explore, Antonio can furnish you with a GPS unit to help point you in the right direction and route maps for if you find yourself lost! Being out on the road was a pleasure having had some interesting experiences at home – the roads were 95% smooth, and where there were potholes there wasn’t the need to swing right in to the road to avoid them. Even the biggest roads were quiet by British standards and there was a real variety of terrain and views.
East of Alcochete is prime breeding ground both for bulls and horses.
Running around Alcochete was good fun – predominantly flat with a few gradual climbs – but plenty to do both on road and off. Running along the river was lovely, especially early in the morning when no-one was around! Because this part of the river is the estuary, you can swim in the river here, it’s great for open water swimming. Alternatively there is a great 25m pool facility a short travel from the hotel for the more tri minded athletes. Finally for the athletes looking for a full training programme will be pleased to know that a 2 minute walk from the hotel is a gym with a full complement of equipment – machines, free weights, TRX/stability equipment – and a sauna/steam room! The gym also does sports massage for those coming out and doing hard training weeks and in need of a little assistance with recovery! Outside the gym is a 60m sprint track as well for athletes wanting to do some power work.
Alcochete is a picturesque little village with plenty of places to eat, drink or just chill out. Because it is quiet, its great for downtime between training sessions, though on the edge of town there are places to go out dancing if your training week is more about balance than all out work!
Alcochete is like a view out of a postcard
Having been out to Lisbon South, I’d happily go again as an athlete – no questions asked. The flight is short, the weather is fairly guaranteed, the area is lovely. Its a minor downside that not all the facilities are right on base – but given that its all pretty much within walking distance for gym or pool swim from the Hotel Alfoz, its certainly a competitive option to elsewhere on the continent.
The intention for us is that we can run camps for Lisbon South – for varying levels of cyclist or triathlete – and also run camps/training weeks under our own banner, hopefully encouraging some fun in our usual way with training but also giving the option to go and see the sights, get some culture!
It was great to sit down and chat with Jon and Holly, owners of our partners at the Triathlon Shop in Bristol to nail down a very important agreement for us.
In May, the Triathlon Shop will be officially moving to the Harbourside in Bristol from its current Temple Quay/Station location. As a part of that expansion, they will have the only Elite Endless Pool (capable of pumping water at 50s/100yard pace!) in the south west of the UK. In addition it will be the only one available to private hire!
As of the 1st week in June, we at Tri-Coaching will be the sole coach using the Triathlon Shop’s pool facilities with a range of different value packages; hopefully something to suit everyone’s pocket and requirements. We cannot wait to grow our partnership – but also make the most of an amazing facility; video swim analysis is something that many athletes have already been asking us about and been after for quite a long time. We should have bookings available very soon.
In addition to our services, the Triathlon Shop will also have a competition of some kind to see if anyone can “outswim” the pool. My fastest 100m race was 51.3 long course (50m pool for triathletes reading) so it will be interesting to see if anyone can get close to the challenge!! Check back soon for more info!
Olà from Alcochete in Portugal! One of the three sites for our partners at Lisbonsouth.com; we were running in the sun by the banks of the River Tejo and it’s super peaceful!
For today’s Run Form Friday comment I wanted to look at why we do drills and skills, why we look at technique. Over the last 8 months I’ve posted a variety of videos that I’ve felt personally might be useful to people. Some don’t see the worth in doing run drills at all. But for for us, we really find that certain elements can really help with speed, strength, efficiency and injury prevention.
The two drills I wanted to pick out are high knees and heel flicks – two drills that many do but don’t understand WHY. If you don’t know why you do the drill, what’s the point, and how can you really do it correctly?!
Both drills have a similar goal, but looking at the running stride in two separate sections. They are both designed to increase that elusive word – cadence (the number of steps/strides you take per minute), as well as other benefits.
First up, high knees – we’ve all done this drill, at school, in warm ups, for various sports.
The idea of the drill is that you run with fast feet, you’re not aiming for distance per stride, almost the opposite. By driving you foot down under the body, you minimise the opportunity to over stride (and therefore lower the load on the legs). By getting the knees high you can also drive down with more force – perfect for going faster!
With heel flicks, again it’s a highly common drill.
This works on using the hamstrings to pull the heels up and through. By picking your feet up a little more you minimise the resistance and the effort required to bring your leg forward and through. Obviously that doesn’t mean you have to stride like Mo Farah sprinting the last 400 at the Olympics – but that is a main reason for a higher heel carry. Again by doing the drill quickly, with sharp snappy movements, it will help increase your overall cadence.
Obviously there are lots of drills around, we’ve looked at a fair few in the last 8 months – but hopefully that gives you a little insight into how we work and what we try to do.
We are very pleased to announce that we will be running training days with Events Logic up at Lake 62 in the Cotswolds! Initially the first events will be familiarisation sessions for novices and intermediates, but we are looking to expand both in numbers and also into more intense “training days” for varying abilities.
The benefits of the days that we will be running will be that you can come along for any of the 3 sessions – or all 3! The idea is that we want the day to appeal to individual sports athletes as well as someone wanting to learn more about all three disciplines.
If you are new to the sport – or slightly longer in the tooth and wanting to improve some skills, come and have a look!
Over the last 2 months or so, we’ve been talking to Antonio and Joao in Alcochete – home to a new training base venue Lisbon South. We can’t wait to see more of what they’ve got – and the amazing surroundings – so we’re going out on Thursday for a long weekend of training there and to recce what the area is like!
The idea with partnering with a business like this is that we can offer extra services; We will be able to run our own camps (see here for further news as it happens), and be able to offer athletes an option in training holidays with a bit of culture and something different to enjoy!
With the opportunity to swim in open water, bike in the hills or on the flat and run on and off road, there are plenty of options, making this an ideal venue to visit!
Its only taken us 11 months from idea to actual realisation, but we now have have a functioning website to work from, to offer information and post handy hints and tips! I’m writing this while watching the build up to the Boat Race – and feeling disappointed that we didn’t get to race last week because of the high winds!!
Have a look around, the website is due to be an evolving process but certainly offers everything we want to show from a swim, bike and run coaching perspective!