Coaching and Training Camp w Joe Friel


I like to learn from the best and once more I was afforded that opportunity at another coaching and triathlon camp at the end of October. When the legendary US Coach Joe Friel shows up in South Africa to talk training with a power meter for 3 days immediately followed by a 4 day triathlon camp with him and some of South Africa’s best, you just don’t say no. No level of certification comes even close when it comes to learning hands on from the best in the business. And getting to spend time with like-minded people in Cape Town and Joburg was just the icing on the cake!
The coaching camp and triathlon camp was organized by Claire and Kent Horner, not only more than successful professional triathletes and coaches themselves, but also two of the best people I was lucky enough to get to know in South Africa. Their hearts and minds are just in the right place and they like to share their knowledge openly and without hesitation. (And I am not just writing this assuming they will read what I write, but because I don’t know any better way to show my gratitude for taking me in and letting me train with them, learn from them and answering my million questions!). There may have been a couple tears when I needed to say good-bye to them, but unless you were there this will neither be confirmed or denied.
Cape Town will always have a very special place in my heart. It’s just different down there. Easier, it seems. And a place I may just one day have to return to for a visit!
Learning from Joe Friel hands on? I believe the grin on my face didn’t fade for 7 days straight. Like a kid in the candy store, I soaked it all up. From stories about how he got into the sport of triathlon and how he developed as a coach to detailed training approaches and data analysis. It ended with a panel discussion on training with power versus heart rate on the last evening. Each night I was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time!
And then came the training camp … another ‘exhausting-to-just-the-right-level’ training camp with 4 days of multiple workouts a day and learning at night! The setting this time was a “Safari Camp” in the Cradle of Humankind, 45 minutes from where we live. Free roaming zebras, wildebeest, a zonkey (crossing between zebra and donkey) and all sorts of ‘boks’ were already pretty cool to watch, but when I nearly walked into a giraffe one morning after breakfast my heart certainly skipped a beat. Eyeing me carefully as only a giraffe can, she seemed to be ok with me as I quickly and quietly backed away – I guess, I was just another stupid tourist to her, more interested in catching my messages than in my immediate environment. Clearly, not a good choice in an environment such as this!
I will not mention how our last evening brought the surprise of a little tornado our way, outside of some damaged cars and roofs, everyone was fine. Much more important was that our swim training nearly got cancelled, because … oh my … the hippo had returned to the dam we were supposed to practice open water swimming in! After some back and forth, we were cleared to swim eventually, but to this day, I can’t say for certain that there couldn’t have been a small chance it was just lurking on the other side of the dam… the camp was now complete with a mental challenge to top off training. Only in Africa!
Once more, a big thank you to Claire and Kent, Joe and the entire MTD family for taking in this quirky little stranger and making me feel at home in this not always friendly environment! It’s been phenomenal!