If you’re the sadomasochistic type who looks at numbers like 70.3 and 140.6 and drools, you’re in good company. A long shot from the psych ward sits the tri camp, a celebrated ritual that unites a dozen or so extremely fit individuals (and those aspiring to be) in a three- to six-day suffer-fest. Camp’s held in a tranquil location with easy access to open water and steep hills: playgrounds for the swim, bike, and run. During the day, a coach barks time splits, and at night, you sit around in circles with ice on your legs.
Most tri camps land in desirable climates — locations like Hawaii, Arizona, California — but there’s probably one not too far from your front porch (New Yorkers, fear not). Costs range from the low triple digits up to a couple grand, but your investment will return in faster times, safer and healthier training, a custom plan set for your goals, and a few new Strava friends. All in all, not a bad trade for a week at camp.
PlayTri Hawaii Camp
Dates: January 18-23, 2015
Location: Kona, HI
Cost: $1,299 plus accommodations, airfare, meals
Those of us still a few hours away from qualifying for Kona, fear not: the course that hosts triathlon’s holy grail is open for practice play. PlayTri features a five-day camp, training on and around the Kona course. Designed for athletes of all levels, the camp is approachable, and, positioned at the start of the year, it’s a strong way to improve your fitness level while everyone else is still sleepwalking through winter.
The Cycling House Triathlon Training Camp
Dates: weekly camps (6 days, 5 nights) between January 13, 2015 and April 12, 2015
Location: Tucson, AZ
Cost: $1,795 plus airfare, gratuity
Cycling House treats the triathlete community as one big family — one that should train together, eat together, race together. So for camp, they set up in a enormous home in the Sonoran desert, and all participants gather around for meals, talks, and training. An on-site chef prepares protein- and carb-appropriate meals, and everything, from the arrival to departure, is taken care of by the staff. Trail runs, desert climbs, and outdoor lap swims compose the core of the week, with clinics accompanying the workouts. For a burgeoning triathlete, this covers all the bases you need to get your tri legs.
Triple Threat Tough Texas Training Camp
Dates: March 20-22, 2015
Location: Dallas, TX
Cost: $475 plus accommodations, airfare, transportation, meals
Despite the macho name, the guys at TTT play nice. Their Texas camp is aimed at the triathlete looking to extend their distances, stepping up to a 70.3 or Ironman. Although the camp is brief, it rests heavy on education in addition to the training, so you’ll leave camp with a sore body as well as a well-trained mind.
ACROSS INTERNATIONAL BORDERS
If you’re into long runs on the beach and late night half-mile swims, then Race Quest is your match. Their Pura Vida! Costa Rica Triathlon Camp offers four days of coaching and limit testing that appropriately falls on Valentine’s Day, so you can solidify your love of triathlon with a romantic, moonlit set of intervals late at night on the sand. February 12-16, 2015. Guanacaste, Costa Rica. $2,599 plus accommodations.
Hits Diamond Mills Tricamp
Dates: May 3-8, 2015 and August 9-14, 2015
Location: Diamond Mills, NY
Cost: $2,000 for one, $3,000 for two plus airfare, meals (2 meals provided per day)
The nationwide HITS Triathlon Series brings triathlons to you. For camp, you go to HITS (it’s a 2.5-hour drive from NYC), where you’ll work directly with race director and USAT certified Coach Mark H. Wilson, an industry veteran. He custom designs training plans for each participant, and the week involves video sessions and seminars in addition to the swim, bike, and run. You’ll also shack up in one of the finer properties in the Valley, a new luxury resort that sits a stone’s throw from the mighty Hudson.
Discomfort Zone Boulder Experience Triathlon Camp
Dates: July 19-24, 2015
Location: Boulder, CO
Cost: $1,295 plus airfare, meals or $795 for camp only (no accommodations)
If the name intimidates, you’re not cut from the proper Lyrca cloth. Coach Mike Coughlin — an ULTRAMAN who’s been in endurance for over a decade — runs a tight ship, with high-altitude training in the idyllic outdoor playground of Boulder (sitting at 5,200 feet). The camp is open to all athletic levels, but won’t fail to challenge the top tier. If you stay on campus, there’s a fully equipped kitchen, and most athletes tend to compile potluck style meals, swapping training tips along with carb-centric recipes.
QT2 Lake Placid Training Camp
Dates: June 18-21, 2015
Location: Lake Placid, NY
Cost: $655 plus accommodations, airfare
In the Northeast, the Lake Placid Ironman is a triathlete’s high-water mark. QT2 works year-round with premier athletes to help them get there, and win. On this four-day intensive camp, you get to join them, swimming, biking, and running the course. There’s one-on-one consultation, custom training help, and plenty of barking from the QT2 coaches. This camp is for the more experienced triathlete, and they ask applicants to show up in top fitness. Then, they’ll break that down and push you beyond your threshold. (Also check out their February camp in Florida.)
GPP Endurance Training Camp
Dates: April 24-27, 2015
Location: Rogers, AR
Cost: $325 plus accommodations, airfare
GPP’s available to kick your ass year-round, but in April they make a special effort. The Ozark camp capitalizes on the mild spring weather and the endless rolling hills of the region. Open swims go down in freshwater Beaver Lake, and USAT coaches stand by tweaking your stroke and send you out for one more lap. At night, you gather around for stories of suffering, with a few educational pointers along the way. The camp also offers higher-profile training analysis, like lactate threshold testing and underwater swim analysis.