Normandy Endurance Training Camp – Day 1

Geraint Forster, Programme Director of BSc Outdoor Fitness, describes the School of Sport, Health and Outdoor Education's oversea endurance sports training camp. The aim of the camp is to present students with a concentrated week of endurance sport training, in preparation for any events they have lined up over the summer.

The first day of the School of Sport, Health and Outdoor Education overseas endurance sports training camp started very early, at 04:45 as the overnight ferry from Portsmouth docked at Caen. After a morning of coffee, travel, coffee, stocking up on supplies, coffee, and unpacking, a post-lunch ride was underway. With a couple of novice cyclists mixed in with some more experienced riders, a hugely enjoyable 50km route was completed through the stunning ‘Swiss Normandy’ countryside, in warm sunshine. The quietness of the French roads was exacerbated by the fact that it was a bank holiday, meaning the group had the road to themselves for the majority of the ride.

The route was very rural, taking the group through small towns and villages, and past a beautifully maintained traditional French Chateau. The two BSc Personal Training students who were riding for the first time in a few years gave an extremely good account of themselves, managing to ride along with the rest of the group even though their mountain bikes were far heavier than the road bikes the rest of the group were using. Unfortunately their ride came to a slightly premature end when, as a result of being too engrossed in conversation, one of them managed to have a slightly too-close encounter with the grass verge, followed by an unceremonious dismount!

After the ride, a number of students ventured into the River Orme which passes alongside the campsite for an open-water swim to end the day. As a result of a partnership between BSc Outdoor Fitness and Zone 3 wetsuits, all students have swimming-specific wetsuits, which allows them to train in open-water even in cold water temperatures.

The students are embracing the concentrated week of endurance sport training, it's good preparation for any events they have lined up over the summer. One such event is the Swansea Triathlon which is being sponsored by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David this year. All five of the BSc Outdoor Fitness first-year students are attending the training camp, and are entered into the triathlon. Over the course of the rest of the week, the group will complete 5-6 hours a day of swimming, cycling and running, as well as practising ‘transitions’ – the process of going from one discipline to the next in as smooth and quick a way as possible.

The experience of this training camp will hopefully not only prepare the students well for the Swansea triathlon and any future triathlons they do, but will also give them a blueprint for potentially running this type of training camp in the future. As part of BSc Outdoor Fitness students get the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge in a range of outdoor sports, physiology and training methods, as well as picking up coaching awards along the way. Those who make the most of the opportunities have the potential to create a career for themselves in outdoor sports leading and coaching, if they so wish.

The forecast for day 2 is looking good, and the plan is for a 50km ride in the morning, before the group splits in two after lunch, with one group going back out for another 70km of cycling, and the other opting for a 15km hike/trail run. Transition practise is planned for early evening prior to a well-earned barbecue. The campsite owner has invited the group to join him for some of his home-made ‘Normandie Cidre’ and a game of boule later in the evening – after all, it is important to experience the local culture alongside all of this hard training!