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Summer may only just be ending but soon the race season for cyclists and triathletes will be drawing to a close. After a break many will evaluate their season, set new goals and start to plan their winter training, including for the lucky ones a spell of warm weather training. As a triathlete I try to escape the British bad weather and have two one-week blocks of overseas training, usually in December and January. Last year I was lucky enough to be able to train in the Costa Blanca and live the dream for five weeks but that was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Over the years I have tried a number of winter training locations including Spain, Lanzarote, and Turkey and would like to share with you my top training venues.
The Costa Blanca has been longstanding favourite training location for the professional cycling teams but triathletes are also discovering the excellent training facilities that this Spanish region has to offer. The Brownlee brothers regularly stay in Polop, a village just inland from the famous resort of Benidorm, are regularly spotted training at the Benidorm athletics track and then cycling back. The Marina Mountains behind Benidorm are great for cycling especially practising climbing and descending, with plenty of climbs of over 1,000 meters. Benidorm has a 25m indoor swimming pool and the sea is warm enough for year round wetsuit swims. The Costa Blanca is my favourite training location- it is only a short flight from the UK, its great fun pro spotting and there is plenty to for family members to do whilst you are training. I use the services of Ciclo Costa Blanca who provide accommodation, bike hire and guided rides and operate out of Albir and Benidorm, both of which have running tracks, 25m pools and off road run routes.
A favourite amongst triathletes is Club La Santa, a resort specifically designed for sportspeople and offers a range of facilities including a running track, three 50m outdoor swimming pool, bike hire centre, gym, tennis, badminton and squash courts, spa and a wide range of aerobics classes. All that plus an average December temperature of 18 degrees means that it is a haven for both professional athletes and weekend warriors. Each time I go to La Santa I spot famous athletes including triathletes Non Stanford and Helen Jenkins and Paralympic champion cyclist Dame Sarah Storey. La Santa is the kind of place that you can travel to alone but you will quickly find people to train with. They offer an excellent apartment share option where single travellers can sign up to share an apartment and pay 50% of the cost of an apartment. This removes the problem of prohibitive single supplements. The resort offers regular sports specific training weeks where you can meet people to train and socialise with and the famous ‘Green Team’ representatives run group sessions including group bike rides, runs, water sports sessions, and aerobics classes.
Less well known is the Gloria Sports Arena and golf resort in Belek, Turkey. The arena is a new complex with modern indoor and outdoor facilities. The aquatics centre has a 10-lane Olympic outdoor swimming pool, 5-lane Olympic indoor swimming pool, 6-lane 25m outdoor swimming pool, Olympic diving pool, Olympic water polo pool, and rehabilitation pool. There are also indoor sports courts, an athletics track, gym, tennis courts and physiotherapy centre with hydro-pools and cryotherapy ice lab. All this doesn’t come cheap-the prices are top end as this is a luxury golf and training resort. Accommodation is in either of the three 5 star hotels; the Gloria Golf Resort, Gloria Verde Resort and Gloria Serenity Resort, which are 5km away from the sports complex but tturkey smallhere is a free shuttle bus. I trained here before the new arena had been built but really enjoyed the running, swimming, yoga and spa facilities that were already on offer. The resort is tapping into the growing triathlon market, hosting the first IRONMAN 70.3 race in Turkey this October. Winter temperatures in Turkey are not as good as Spain or Lanzarote, with the average January temperature being only 9.6 degrees. The best months to visit for reasonable training temperatures are May, June, September and October which is unfortunately either during the triathlon season or many athletes’ rest period.
It has been a few years since I stayed at La Manga, near Murcia-a popular training venue for golfers and professional footballers. Like the Gloria it has woken up to the triathlon market, developing an integrated range of services for triathlon training including a number of training days and organised camps. Facilities include a 25m indoor pool, bike hire shop, gym and a range of fitness classes. For post training recovery there is a luxury spa but unfortunately use of this facility incurs an additional charge. Open water swimming is possible in the nearby beaches including one that is part of the resort and can be reached by a free shuttle bus.
My favourite training destinations are the Costa Blanca and Lanzarote but I am hoping to try a few new locations including the Playitas Resort in Fuerteventura, which is a regular training venue for the British Triathlon elite squad. Of course, wherever you choose to go make sure you have good travel insurance that covers you for your chosen sports activities so that you can have peace of mind whilst training.
Helen is a Great Britain age group triathlete. She is a former age group World and European Duathlon champion and European Triathlon champion. This year Helen was part of the One Day Ahead team which raised £700,000 for Cure Leukaemia by riding the entire route of this year’s Tour de France one day ahead of the pros. She will be writing a series of blogs for Sportscover Direct where she will share her training tips. You can follow her on Twitter via @helengoth.