As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, which definitely applies to our recent training camp in Águilas, Spain. Whilst we’re all a pretty hardy bunch and will get on with our training regardless of the weather, it was definitely nice to escape to the warmer climes of Spain. It gave our washing machines a well deserved break from the mounds of wet muddy clothes that get piled into them on a daily basis, topped up our vitamin D levels, and gave our trainers a break from the Manchester mud. It was quite a luxury to put on dry trainers, rather than damp muddy ones for every run.

In terms of our training in Spain, we did a mixture of track sessions and off-road sessions. Our first session was a tempo around a mile loop Steve had measured in the vegetable fields. Usually, we never had any hassle running around the fields, in fact, the workers seemed to like us running there, and would often cheer us on as we ran past them while they were busy picking cabbages and lettuces. However, the one day that we had planned to do a session around the fields, turned out to be the same day that the farms were having some sort of inspection by an external company. Just after Steve had laid out some cones to mark out the mile loop, a man parked up in a van and started talking in Spanish to us. With none of us able to speak much Spanish, we weren’t quite sure what he was saying, but it was clear that he didn’t really want us running around the fields that morning. Fortunately, Steve saved the day and managed, with some broken Spanish, to convince the man to allow us to to do our session around the fields. As soon as our sessions were over, we made sure to make a swift exit off the fields to avoid being seen by the man in the van again! Fortunately, after that morning, we never had any trouble running around the fields.

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Our other two sessions were on the track, which was just over a 10 minute jog from the hotel we were staying at. As everyone has slightly different racing plans, we didn’t all have the same sessions, but where possible, Steve worked it out so that we weren’t training alone. With 3 stopwatches around his neck, one for each session, Steve somehow managed to make sure we were all being timed. It must be an unwritten rule that coaches need to be able to coordinate using 2+ stopwatches at one time! The track facilities in Águilas were basic, but had everything we needed, and we were fortunate to be allowed to use it whenever we wanted. It is a pretty hard track in terms of its surface, making it fast, but not particularly calf friendly! We were all advised against using spikes on it just to make walking slightly easier the following day.

To say it was breezy for our first track session (6-8 x 1 km) would be an understatement. We all woke up on the morning of the track session to the sound of the wind blowing, but the sunshine and warm weather more than made up for the wind. Despite the conditions, everyone had good sessions, and it was nice to have the company of some of the Welsh Athletics Endurance Squad.

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The sun was shining yet gain for our last track session. The boys were doing a mixture of 1200s and 400’s, while the girls did a tempo and some 200’s . Although the sun was out, the temperature had dropped a few degrees. Even the South of Spain didn’t manage to escape the cold weather that affected much of Europe. The temperature dropped to around 4 degrees on our last couple of days, which according to the locals is a very race occurrence! Some of the surrounding mountains even had snow on them, which hasn’t been seen in that area of Spain for about 25 years! The unseasonably cold weather didn’t bother us too much except for the fact that we hadn’t really packed for cold weather. By the end of the camp our limited warmer layers and long sleeve tops had been well used, or in other words- were rather smelly!

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The gym, located at the same complex as the track,  is basic, but had everything that we needed.

People often ask what we get up to other that running on training camps; Where do we go? What do we see?  The reality is, other than lots of running, gym trips, eating and copious trips to coffee shops, we don’t really do much else/there is little time to do much else. Training camps are often an opportunity for us to do less “day to day” activities, and a chance to fully focus on just running and recovering. After a morning training session, the thought of doing anything that involves more than a 3-5 minute walk is quite daunting! I think the furthest we ventured from our hotel was to the far corner of the vegetable fields on our long run. We didn’t even have to think about cooking, which was another bonus! Breakfast and dinner was provided at the hotel. It was really great food, and it was nice to know that the vegetables hadn’t traveled far to get to our plates- they had probably just been picked that morning on the fields over the road! The fruit there was also incredible, the melon was particular tasty, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we got through about 20 melons between us in 10 days! The staff at the hotel were amazing and very accommodating. They didn’t seem to mind hungry sweaty runners hoarding into breakfast and dinner for a big feed!

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A typical afternoon in Aguilas. All very busy as you can see…….! Lauren could be asleep?

All in all it was a great 10 days, and despite being sad to leave Águilas, we’re also excited to get back into winter training in Stockport, and for our upcoming races.

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Team NB MCR with some of the Welsh Endurance Squad

While the rest of us traveled back to Manchester, we left Lauren and Ross in Spain for an extra few days as they are competing for England at the Juan Muguerza International Cross-Country in Elgoibar, Northern Spain, on Sunday. Good luck to Lauren and Ross! More information can be found here http://mintxeta.com/web-mintxeta-2017/home_en.html

Stay tuned for more updates next week!