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2:09 Runner’s Training Camp, Algarve Portugal



Chris March went on the 2:09 runner’s training camp held in the Algarve this March and had a great time; this is the fourth time she’d been so it must be good! Chris has kindly put together a report on her trip including details and photographs of the area, organisation, training and runs etc. Her report follows:-

2:09 in 2009

So … what is it? Boot camp? A training camp? A bit of both in my view – but to be honest, most of all – it’s really good fun … no wind … pretty much all flat running … no wind… lots of sunshine … no wind … no rain … no wind … bliss out (did I mention no wind?)!

Most folks who attend are either training for a half – or more likely the London Marathon – but not exclusively. It’s a real mixed bag – about 60 runners of mixed ability – so if you are newish to running, want to build up your fitness or are training for a marathon you’ll be sure to find others of similar ability to train with.

A bit of background info:

When: March. You can do a one week or a 10 day option over a three week period. This year I did the first week and then hung around to lie by the pool for the second week (I did run a little – but no so intensely).

Where: Falesia (nearish Faro) on the Algarve.

Weather report: Usually sunny – this year the temperature was between 20 – 26 degrees all the time I was there. Fab for lazing in the sun by the pool resting weary muscles!

Who runs it: Mike Gratton – he won the 1983 London Marathon in 2 hours 9 minutes – hence 2:09 http://www.209events.com

Any other ‘names’ attend? There’s usually one or two – this year it was Paul Evans (he won Chicago, came second in New York and third in London), Bruce Tulloch (won the European 5,000 Championships in Belgrade in 1962 as the bare-footed runner in a near world record time). They, together with a bunch of personal coaches, experienced marathon runners, physios are always on hand to give you advice on your training plans, injuries etc. Injured or not – you can always book in for a massage – there’s always at least one, if not two, masseurs at the camp. All this is included in the camp fee. If you take advantage of a physiological test you are on a real winner as they can be pretty expensive alone.

How much/what does it include: Here are the details for next year: Algarve 2010

The accommodation: Either the villa complex – cheaper – but ‘ok’, mostly that’s where the camp organisers stay, there’s a decent bar there and a pool. The other place folks stay (including me) is the Stella Maris hotel (link to TripAdvisor Sella Maris). Still fairly new with really good facilities, a fab pool  in which we stand around after our runs – useful for a good blether/cool down those muscles and amuse the other hotel residents having their breakfast!

Running facilities: The track/tennis courts/gym is right next to the villas/Stella Maris – so it’s all very compact. You don’t have to go far – good for conserving energy!

And ‘round about’: Some good places to each in Falesia (literally 2 mins up the road). When I first went this was really small – but they are expanding the tourist facilities now. Places like Albufeira and Vilamoura are really close by and always good to visit. On the Sunday after the long run this year we hired bikes and cycled to Vilamoura – great fun and fab places for ‘lashings and lashings’ of ice cream (included lots of references to the ‘Famous Four’ – we didn’t have a dog!). There are also loads of other places within 10/15 mins walk to go to eat if you don’t hire a car. If you do – the road system is ‘interesting’ but once you crack it there are some lovely hill/coast villages, towns etc to explore.

This is the 4th time I’ve been – I go every other year and meet up with chums who go the same pattern and some who go every year – I’m totally hooked and already planning 2011! Everyone is incredibly friendly and we all look out for each other – particularly anyone who is new or by themself – you won’t be for long. Someone will ensure you get an invite to an evening out so you won’t feel alone. The organisers are always on hand and make sure you have a good time.

I tend to do the first week – but if you do the second and hang around for a couple of days you can also fit in the Falesia 5k – run by a couple of the south of England clubs!  This year there seemed to be a lot of triathletes about, some very serious looking Russians (the legs on them!). In previous years we’ve seen Kenyans and Ethiopians (big ‘names’) out there – so you’re mixing with a good crowd!

So – what do you do? Here’s a ‘run’ down (sorry – couldn’t help myself!)…

Morning Afternoon Afternoon Evening
Thursday Arrivals Arrivals 4:30pm: meet on track for steady run (about 5 miles) Stella Maris for welcome cocktail and intros
Friday 8am:  steady 5 mile run 3pm: Core Stability work 4pm: Mile Time Trial on the track* 7pm: Training talk with Mike Gratton (in the bar)
Saturday 8am:  steady 5 mile run 3pm: Pilates 4pm: Split into ability groups for speed work 7pm: Training talk with Paul Evans (bar again)
Sunday 7:30am:  long runs – anything from 8 to 26 mile runs 3pm: Yoga Rest – you’ll need it 7pm: Training talk with Bruce Tulloch (you know where!)
Monday 8am: steady 5 mile run
Visit to Silves
3pm: Pilates 4pm: Group sessions 7pm: Physiology talk (Bar).
Tuesday 8am: steady 5 mile run 3pm: Yoga 4pm: Steady Runs 7pm: Running Quiz
Wednesday 9am: 5 mile handicap race: International Cross Country course 5km walk at Pena National Park 3pm: Gym work 7pm: BBQ night with race presentations
Thursday 8am: steady 5 mile run Airport transfers Then it all starts over again with the second week group

* This (together with your age/gender) will form the basis of your start placing for the 5 Mile Handicap position later on in the week and the basis of the group you will work with for the duration of the week (they’re relaxed about you swapping around if you want to say with your chums though!).

Phew – do you have to do it all? As much or as little as you want – I did most of it – the Pilates and Yoga were great in the sunshine. There tended to be more women than men at the first sessions ,,, interestingly though – more men turned up for the second sessions … was it on account of who was running the sessions …

However, after a week you do start to feel it – this is the only holiday I’ve been on where no-one laughs if you want to go to bed about 10ish – most people do! It’s worth it though to make the morning runs – there’s either a flat run, or a run along the clifftops – or the beach – or mix them up – go out one way and come back another. There will always be a group doing what you want to do – so go out flat and come back along the beach – or whatever. These pictures will give you an idea of what it’s like…

And does it work … well – I certainly feel fitter, I’m sure my running is stronger (I actually came 2nd in the handicap race!) – you’ll also see from Murdo’s ‘Little ERN’ report that I cracked my goal of running 10k in less than 48 minutes! I think it does …

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