At the end of February, I was able to head to my coach’s triathlon training camp in Tucson, Arizona for a week-long training (sort of) break. We always hear a lot about these kinds of training camps—a vacation full of swim, bike, run. But I also hear a lot of questions about who can really afford to go?

So I asked them. The range of people at training camp was wide and their backgrounds, geography, jobs, and ages varied. Why did they decide to come to the desert for a week? How did they make it work with their work, lives, and schedules? And what is the one lesson they took away from it all?

Here are some of the people who came to the MCC triathlon training camp and what they’d like to tell you about it.


Related stories about training camps:
Making the Most of a Triathlon Training Camp
The Benefits Of A Triathlon Training Camp
DIY It: Build Your Own Training Camp


Jennifer Vollmann

triathlon training camp jen vollman

AGE: 36
HOMETOWN: Phoenix, AZ
JOB: Non-profit consultant and mom (it is most definitely a job)

HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE OFF A WEEK TO COME TO CAMP?
My parents and my husband helped to take care of my 5-year-old daughter and I was able to arrange my work projects so I had a light week during camp.

WHY?
Because I want to podium in my age group at an Ironman and I want to qualify for Kona! Camp is a fantastic way to push all distractions aside and “just” be a triathlete for a week. I don’t have to shuttle my daughter between school, dance practice, swim lessons. There is no cooking, no clients. It is just eat, sleep, and breathe triathlon. It is a full week just focused on training and pushing myself to my limit. But what makes camp really great are the other athletes and coaches! I train alone and constantly bore my family and friends with triathlon talk. No one gets it or understands why I would spend 18 hours a week training for a race. But at camp, everyone gets its. While you only train together in person for a short period of time, my fellow campers become my training community throughout the year.

WAS IT WORTH IT? WHAT WAS YOUR ONE MAJOR LESSON YOU TOOK AWAY?
Yes! My major lesson I took away is I am so much stronger and faster than I thought. Every day I felt completely and utterly smashed from the training. But the next day, I was able to dig even deeper and exceed my expectations for the training session. When you are surrounded by 20 people pushing themselves to be better, you collectively tap into a new level of strength that is hard to achieve by yourself.

Frank Morosky

triathlon training camp Frank Morosky

AGE: 28
HOMETOWN: Cedar Rapids, IA USA
JOB: Project manager—engineering

HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE OFF A WEEK TO COME TO CAMP?
It takes some planning at work to make sure my customers are taken care of—even some emails during camp. Also, I have to make sure my friends and family are aware that I won’t necessarily be doing any week-long trips, so that I can use the rest of my days off for holidays and sickness. Once you explain the why, most people will get behind you to help make it work.

WHY?
For me, the reason I take a whole week off work and not go on a ‘normal’ vacation is twofold. I’ve had several vacations with friends and family over the years, and when I first tried out camp, it was a way to do something different with roughly the same costs. The second reason is that it was in line with my other goals of progressing in the sport and finding ways to make it even more fun and social.

WAS IT WORTH IT? WHAT WAS YOUR ONE MAJOR LESSON YOU TOOK AWAY?
Absolutely, training camp is worth it. You come back with a ton of fitness that sets you up for a great start to the season, with the benefit of doing it in a way that doesn’t burn you out. If you tried to do your own camp, I believe you could save a few dollars but the lost social atmosphere of being around other people who you can talk about triathlon all day long has a distinct benefit when doing all those miles at once. The biggest lesson I took away is learning how far you can really push yourself when you are around other high performers. You wouldn’t think you can chase someone into the wind, doing over threshold for watts, at mile 80 so that you can grab a wheel while everyone is racing home down the highway, but you will find it in yourself and come out of it with a new resolve for digging deeper.

Jenny Lorenz

AGE: 59 race age
HOMETOWN: Marion, Iowa
JOB: President/CEO of Linn Area Credit Union

HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE OFF A WEEK TO COME TO CAMP?
I schedule this week off every year for vacation. Having been at this company for over three decades, I’m fortunate I get a lot of vacation time throughout the year.

WHY?
The reasons are plentiful and align with my ‘whys.’ Some time ago, my coach, Marilyn, encouraged me to write down my ‘whys’ to make sure I remember them on the tough days when my schedule gets extremely difficult or I have setbacks—of which there have been plenty. Here are some of my ‘whys’ for camp: I get to spend a week away from the normal grind where I can strictly focus on pushing myself in training and I have no other demands on my time; I get to spend a week with like-minded people who share my passion for training; I get to spend a week with my amazing coach; I’ve been doing these camps for nearly a decade and have made incredible friendships at them; I get to go somewhere warm and beautiful when it’s cold and crappy at home; and the February time-frame is a great time to jump-start the year for training in preparation for race season.

WAS IT WORTH IT? WHAT WAS YOUR ONE MAJOR LESSON YOU TOOK AWAY?
Absolutely, it always is. This year was pretty tough for me physically. My work schedule has been very difficult and I’m just not as strong as normal. Plus I separated my shoulder three weeks prior to camp in a bike crash so I was completely off being able to do anything for the majority of the time leading up to camp. I was pretty hard on myself, mentally, as I just wasn’t physically where I wanted to be. In retrospect my major lesson was that I should have been kinder to myself and more patient, given the circumstances, rather than allowing myself to get in my head and feeling old and broken down.

Alex Cristiani

triathlon training camp kitts peak

HOMETOWN: San Salvador, El Salvador
JOB: Entrepreneur – hospitality/restaurant business developer and manager

HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE OFF A WEEK TO COME TO CAMP?
As an entrepreneur one can basically set one’s own schedule. Not having a boss makes it easier to take off whenever one can make the time to do so. Three main issues to take care off: making sure the family is OK for me to take the time off; no exogenous circumstances, like national elections (twice before I had to leave camp early in order to come back home to vote); and making sure any business-related responsibility can be managed from a distance—with technology this is relatively simple.

WHY?
I’ve been going to camp for a number of years now and more than going to learn new things, although there’s always something new to learn, I use it to get a significant bump in my fitness level. I usually race early in the season, so camp proves very beneficial. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with old friends and ride along with them.

WAS IT WORTH IT? WHAT WAS YOUR ONE MAJOR LESSON YOU TOOK AWAY?
Camp is always worth it for the same reasons mentioned above. The second half of 2019 I decided not to race, I needed a break, and concentrate instead on my riding strength, which is my comparative weakness in races. Camp gave me the opportunity to measure myself against other athletes and see how much I had improved. Not only had I improved my strength and cadence on the bike, but I was also swimming faster than ever. I left camp with a new sense of confidence.

Beth Gabhart

triathlon training camp beth gabhart

AGE: 45
HOMETOWN: Washington, IN
JOB: NICU RN, triathlon coach

HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE OFF A WEEK TO COME TO CAMP?
I scheduled work around it and put the hubby in charge of the kiddos. Some ladies like spa weekends to treat themselves, I like tortuous trips in self-improvement.

WHY?
I met Marilyn at the Outspoken Summit, then looked at her website and saw the camp. It was cycling heavy, which is my favorite of the three disciplines, but looked scary as heck with all the climbing. So, I knew it would be scary, challenging, and empowering.

WAS IT WORTH IT? WHAT WAS YOUR ONE MAJOR LESSON YOU TOOK AWAY?
It was totally worth it! It pushed my mental and physical limits to help me grow as an athlete in confidence and skills. It provided a supportive environment to save your energy for training, physically and mentally, with the staff providing meals as well as accommodations and transports. The athletes were top-notch, to feel like they supported you and encouraged to level up to your potential. My biggest lesson was that descending is freaking scary down a mountain, but manageable with good brake pads, selective peeking over the side of the mountain, and plenty of praying. The view is always worth the climb, and the descent exposes your fears, which you face head on.

Rachel and Steve Jones

triathlon training camp rachel steve jones

AGE: 49 and 56 years old
HOMETOWN: Detroit, MI
JOB: Retired

WHY?
To escape Michigan winter and ride bikes outside in the sunshine. An opportunity to see my coach that I mostly work with online. To have fun with friends. As a couple who have different cycling abilities, it enables us to have others to ride with and challenges us, along with amazing bike mechanics, nutrition and sag. Everything organized for us. We just have to turn up and train!

WAS IT WORTH IT? WHAT WAS YOUR ONE MAJOR LESSON YOU TOOK AWAY?
It was totally worth it. A great break from Zwift/indoor workouts. So much fun to ride in a group with others. I have made friendships from camp that will last a lifetime. For me, camp is an opportunity to forget all my power levels, TSS, etc, and show up to every workout. It is amazing the quality and volume of training we are capable of. A great fitness boost in preparation for racing.