Matt Fisher - Elivar Featured Athlete - spent a few days in Mallorca as a ‘solo training camp’ (also known as a ‘holiday’ to some!). In this article Matt passes on his top tips for staying save on a solo-training camp.
I love cycling and training in Mallorca, but I was also very aware that there is an inherent risk every time you head out the door and so I wanted to make sure that I minimized the risks of a mishap by following some simple rules.
* Consider visiting a place you are already familiar with
I’ve trained in Mallorca many times and so I have a good idea of which routes are popular with cyclists, which roads are perhaps a bit too busy with cars and which roads are more or less abandoned. I also know where the good coffee and lunch stops are! (super important for training camps…).
* Stick to routes that are popular with other cyclists or runners
In the unlikely event that you have a mishap, whether that’s an accident, a puncture you can’t fix or you simply bonk and need to scrounge an energy gel, you don’t want to be left unfound for too long. As such, I selected routes for my solo rides where I knew there would be other cyclists. I did try some routes I had not cycled before, but I used Strava Heatmap to check that there was likely to be a decent amount of cycle traffic (I don’t think I went more than 10-15 minutes for 470km where I didn’t see another cyclist).
* Take your phone
I can’t imagine many of us ever cycle without a phone in our back pocket these days, but the benefits are obvious, from being able to call for help in an emergency to being able to check where you are when lost. And of course, the obligatory selfies to make everyone at home jealous.
* Carry extra fuel
I started every ride with two full bottles of Elivar (either 2x Hydrate Plus or a mix of Hydrate Plus and Endure) and always had at least one additional sachet in a jersey pocket. The sachets take up next-to-no space and are a great safety net if you end up being out longer than planned or need the option to refill you bottles with something more calorie-dense than water at your coffee stop.
* Carry cash
I admit I live in a ‘card economy’ mindset and am used to using my phone to contactlessly pay for coffee stops in the UK. However, the rest of the world is not always so advanced, so good old-fashioned cash is handy when you have no training buddies to scrounge off!
* Download a map, save a photo or carry paper!
Don’t rely on your phone always having a good data signal. It’s easy to save a screenshot of a map from your phone when you do have a signal or just go old-school and carry a map! I did this when trying out unfamiliar routes on my solo camp.
* Drink and eat often
This is no different to normal training rules, except you won’t have people around to remind you. If you have a habit of forgetting to drink or take gels / bars, set an alarm on your watch or head unit. I tried to remember to take at least a sip of Elivar every ten minutes and a gel or bar once an hour on steady rides.
* Ride with caution
I know it sounds obvious, but perhaps a solo training camp isn’t the best time to try to beat your PB on the Sa Calobra descent. Perhaps take extra care when navigating through traffic (I was stunned at how many Spanish drivers – and even cyclists – turn left at roundabouts from the right-hand lane with no indicating!).
These rules are primarily aimed at cycling, but similar rules can be applied to both running and swimming. Running is perhaps the least ‘risky’ whereas any open water swimming always comes with some warnings, such as never swim on your own (which at least means you can be seen by people on the beach who might hopefully be able to help if you get into difficulties) and getting some advice on possible swimming locations as conditions like riptides are not always immediately obvious from the beach.I had a great time on my solo training camp and had no less fun for being a little bit more cautious in my route selection and cycling behaviour. So, if you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend a few days training in the sun!