Training Locations and the Elite Lifestyle
by Marilyn McDonald
I have had the opportunity in the last 10 years to train all over the world. Everybody has their own personal list of what they need to make a great training location and you soon learn what you are looking for in a place for it to be a great training venue. I'm going to give you some insight on what we look for and some thoughts on the places we've been in case you were thinking of checking them out.
What We Look For
One of my favorite jokes is that if you drive into a place and it's beautiful and green... the training probably sucks. Green means rain. Lots of rain means crappy training weather.
Here is a list that always comes to mind when we seek out locations:
You'll see the common theme through most of those points is easy access. For training venues to work, your basic daily routine needs to be very simple. Commuting is a time killer.
Some of our favorite places
Flagstaff, Arizona: Great running trails, good weather, everything is close, PHX airport is 90 minutes away, great community, high altitude, great cycling routes with limited traffic, although limited to only a few staple routes. You need to know if this altitude works for you, it's high there.
Leysin, Switzerland: One of the best cycling places in the world. Very quiet and remote. The weather is unreliable and Zurich airport is a bit far, but the train system is great.
Albury, Australia: Great weather, great pools, great running trails, many great cycling options (mountains or flat), great group rides, great training community and partners, affordable, great open water swimming and lots of local events.The airport is close for short flights but international flights are from Melbourne which is three hours away. It can be a touch hot in the guts of the summer.
Thailand: Beautiful remote training with great weather, although the tropical downpours can be tough. There are limited bike shops, no physio and it can be tough logistically if you don't have a car.
Boulder, Colorado: The best of everything except pools! Boulder is also very expensive for the average folk. It can be overwhelming with the "Hollywood athlete" community -- it's important to know if that kind of environment is positive or detrimental for you.
Christchurch, New Zealand: The best of everything except the weather! It can be cold and hard here. Christchurch has the best swimming program by far. Next to Flagstaff and Boise, it also offers the best running trails.
Boise, Idaho: One of our favorites but can be a bit isolated for training partners during the day (most of our training pals here work 9-5). By far the best running trails.
Tucson, Arizona: Best of all worlds from a training perspective. The best cycling group community in the world (the Saturday morning shoot out is a must)! The downside is if you need to commute somewhere it takes forever -- the key to set up your daily routine close to your home base.
Keeping it very simple is the main key to training success. If you're going to train a lot and get the rest you need, then everything about your lifestyle needs to be bare bones. You don't want to set yourself up in a place that doesn't encourage you to get out the door.
For me, good weather is probably the biggest motivator. You might have something else that gets you going. If you want to discover that perfect training venue for you, learn what motivates you week in and week out, then surround yourself in that environment.
KISS and train hard.