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Club La Santa and me

Paul using his Lanza training at the recent Chairman's Challenge

Our latest blog features Paul, who attended our Training Camp at Club La Santa, Lanzarote in March. Here is his report from the trip:

La Santa and Me!

It took me 25 years to compete in my first triathlon, from first deciding I liked the idea of multi-sport events. Now, in middle age, I’d say I’ve yet to find relief from the ‘itch’ that is triathlon. I must add that I’m no athlete in the traditional sense - at just over 18st the energy required to complete even a short run or ride is not insignificant. I’m used to being the slowest, used to being so far behind in group activities and training I do less than others. I’m used to needing to sleep for a few hours after exercise to recover and to know that things will be sore.

That said, I’ve never not finished a race I’ve started.

So to contemplate spending a week in a specialist sports resort in the company of 30+ triathletes whose abilities, stamina and willpower are so far beyond my own would, to the external observer, appear just a tad crazy.

Yet in mid-March I found myself en route to Gatwick with a bike box and a load of newly purchased cycling kit in tow for a week-long training camp organised by my wonderful triathlon club, Havering Tri.

The group spanned from people of a bit above my level to pretty well-ranked Ironman distance competitors. We were joined by Reece Barclay and Lucy Charles who are great friends to the club. I was scared witless about what the week would entail and went into the first day (first evening after arriving, actually) a little apprehensive.

Into the pool (first time in a 50m pool!) after about an hour’s sleep on the plane and a long day travelling, and I swam my little legs off. It had begun - and it didn’t stop for the whole time we were there.

By the end of day 2 I’d swum again and ridden 25 miles (my first bike ride for nearly a year). I could barely walk and had started to gain a reputation for sleeping 15 hours a day. I was completely knackered - it was bloody fantastic! What’s that now you say - you felt you were slowly descending into madness brought on by your body’s slowly manifesting total pain coverage and you were having a good time? Explain!

Well, firstly it was the support - from the momentum generated by lots of people heading off to do the next activity and you’d suddenly be there doing it too. Then there was the non-stop encouragement and support about everything. Want your bike looked at to make sure it’s set up right? No problem! There was someone who’d help. Need something? Here, have some of mine. ‘When are we getting you back out on the bike, Paul?’

It was amazing. Truly like being a family unit.

Did I do all the tough rides / brick sessions and swims? Honestly, no - I was exhausted and had to listen to my body and rest. I was well served by the club’s trainers who helped manage my expectations too. Did I do more in that 5 days than I’d do back home? Damn right I did! Was I pushed to the limit of mental and physical endurance? Yes, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I did surprise myself during the week and learned a lot about what motivates me and others. I heard stories of people who like me had been overweight and were now out there riding and running with the best of them, and that inspired me to make the changes that seemed so hard before - having been overweight for most of my adult life, that is no short road to set off along, and the ease of staying put and not changing is a massive obstacle to overcome.

It’s a short time since the camp now, and I have recovered and unpacked. I came back with a renewed desire to train my mind and body, shed some weight and make sure that if I’m lucky enough to go again, I can do even more and get even more from the camp without so many sleep interludes.

I’d definitely go again, I’d recommend it to anyone who is serious about starting their season off with a great foundation or is looking to be inspired by some amazingly friendly athletes.

My deepest and warmest thanks to Kay and Graham for their organisation of the trip, to my room mates for putting up with the snoring and to Nigel for being our room leader. Finally, to each and every one who was there for everything you did for me.