The sacred tradition of attending running camp is a staple for most of the top cross country programs in the country. Less common, however, is taking advantage of the same opportunity during the winter months. Though less popular, a growing number of winter track & field and distance running camps are available for teams to help build the base training and team comradarie that aids in a successful spring season. Though not an issue here in Florida, in many parts of the country the cold weather places a significant hinderance on training regimines. A winter camp into a warmer climate such as Florida may be just what the doctor ordered!
Trent Sanderson, the founder of Team Prep USA in Colorado, was one of the first to open up a winter distance camp. His December venture, called the Winter Distance Project, gives his summer campers and clients around the country a much-wanted alternative. Sanderson says his initial plan was to hold the camp in Hawaii, but he opted for something on the east coast and settled in Tallahassee. After three years there, Sanderson moved it to Tampa to be more accessible to the Florida population centers and closer to an international airport. This year will be the second year in that location. Sanderson believes winter camps are beneficial because it allows the student-athlete to get recharged and put in a good base for the upcoming spring track season.
"Having the camp in southern Florida also allows them to get outside during the winter months for training, whereas most states does not present this opportunity. Team Prep USA has become a great relations building camp and each time we get together throughout the year it allows them to keep each other accountable and reassess goals for the upcoming season," says Sanderson.
In addition to training, their camp offers nutritional and academic components which is a strong part of their program. He says it is a chance for the student athlete to comprehend all aspects of life. A typical camp weekend for the Tampa Winter Distance Camp consists of terrific weather, great facilities and a lush forest that serves as a perfect backdrop.
Other track & field disciplines need not feel left out, there are other December break opportunities that don't focus solely on distance. FSU hosts the Seminole Track Camp from December 27 through December 30 in Tallahassee. Their camp focuses on all disciplines involved with track and field including sprints, hurdles, jumps, throws, and pole vault. It allows athletes to focus on one specific area or learn new techniques and skills that will make them a more well-rounded athlete. Seminole Track Camp Co-Director Joe Paiva says camps like his as well as the Winter Distance Project are great for athletes and a trend he hopes to see continue throughout the country.
"A lot of what I think we give them is that year-round training that will help them perform later on. It starts to prepare athletes ahead of time so they don't have that lapse between fall sports and spring sports. If there is no indoor season for them then they probably start in March. It's beneficial to hold these camps in warm climate areas because it gets kids out there and more involved in the track and field community and allows them to see how other universities prepare for the upcoming seasons."
For more information on camps year around across the country check out our newly revamped RunningCamps.org website.
More on the camps mentioned...