Just a week after being selected for the World Championships team, I travelled to St. Moritz, Switzerland for a final training camp. Think of St. Moritz as Flagstaff’s fancier, European sister. Located at 1,800 metres (just under 6,000 feet) in the Swiss Alps, St. Moritz has become a popular training ground for endurance athletes between European races or in preparation for a major championship.
This summer, St. Moritz also served as one of two Athletics Canada pre-competition camps. I opted for the one at altitude because I raced well right after spending time at the Flagstaff training camp. I also wanted to experiment with altitude before a major games as a test for future big-name competitions.
“We’re in a posh place, yes. But the work to prepare for an IAAF World Championship race doesn’t become glamorous as a result.”
A few well-known Olympic athletes came with me as they too await the big showdown in London, although it is a small group. Only myself, fellow 5,000m runner Jessica O’Connell, and race walkers Evan Dunfee, and Ben Thorne are training in St. Moritz, while the rest of the team is in steamy Guadalajara, Spain.
We’re in a posh place, yes. But the work to prepare for an IAAF World Championship race doesn’t become glamorous as a result. Because the elevation is a little less aggressive than Flagstaff, there was no need to go through such a careful protocol for the first few days of being here. The trick for this training camp is to taper properly and try to stay as stress-free as possible. As it stands, Worlds in London is just a few days away. This means that Jess and I are currently taking care of the details, like hydration, nutrition and self treatment, as much as possible. After that, we’re keeping things light with a few episodes of “Jane the Virgin” everyday.
Right now, I’ve counted at least seven women who will toe the line in the 5,000m at the World Championships who are also training in St. Moritz. For me, it’s comforting to know that we’re all doing generally the same thing before the biggest competition of the year.
This lifestyle involved a lot of back and forth travel from home to meets ad training camps. These days, I try to keep my routine as similar to my training environment in Toronto, but with less distractions and far fewer kilometres travelled on my single-speed. Most of our day is spent exploring the trails, and being awed by the beautiful views on our runs. Then we have treatment with Ron O’Hare, or we do some self-maintenance and a nap. On workout days, we either stay in St. Moritz for our tempo sessions or we go to lower altitude for track sessions.
“During the year, Jess and I are fiercely competitive, trying to make major teams in the same event and top each other at Nationals. But at these training camps, we’re able to work together to make each other better.”
With easy access to Chiavanna, Italy we’re able to drop down to 330m of elevation for our quality track sessions. Last Saturday, Jessica and had our last hard and long sessions before heading to London. We did 3 x 1,000m at 5,000m race pace and then another 3 x 1,000m with pace changes. From here, we’ll both start sharpening up and getting ready to race with shorter, faster intervals.
One of my favourite things about these camps is getting to work with athletes who aren’t part of my usual training group. During the year, Jess and I are fiercely competitive, trying to make major teams in the same event and top each other at Nationals. But at these training camps, we’re able to work together to make each other better, because the goal for Worlds is for both of us to make the final.