last week I had the pleasure of attending the get active running camp in Spain.
It was led by champion ultramarathon runner Donnie Campbell.
I came across Donnie in a Trail running magazine. I started following him on Instagram and looking at his website I really liked his approach to running. I saw he was running a training camp in Spain two days after my birthday. Well it seemed an opportunity too good to miss. So after talking to Donnie I booked my place and a flight to Barcelona to meet up with him and attend his training camp.
I flew Monday afternoon and arrived in Barcelona in the evening. Donnie picked me up from the airport, I was the last to arrive and so throwing my bag in the mini bus we drove to Cambrilis to our home for the week.
We were staying on a holiday village that turns into an athletes training camp during the winter months. Indeed there was a number of football teams using the facilities while we were there.
After a good hearty dinner we were off to bed to tackle the first day.
The first day turned out to be a 30km run through the mountains, and what a lovely setting for a running camp. We were running in Montseratt, a national park in Catalunya. We parked the van up and then traversed up a steep mountain, Donnie told us to remember the way, tomorrow we would all be running a time trial up the same route!
After this we spent the rest of the day hiking and running, taking in the amazing scenery.
The highlight was the downwards decent that I shared with Rachel, Donnies partner, and top runner herself. We sprinted down rocky trails, all the way back through the town to the van. So much fun.
(The group above on the first day).
The next day as promised we had our time trial. Parking up in the same spot we ran to the start of the trail.
Donnie let us go at intervals depending on his expected time it would take us to get to the top. I was quite chuffed he let me go last and reckoned it would take me 40 minutes to get to the top.
Rachel was started 1 minute before me. It was a sunny warm day, and I started off towards the summit. The track was steep, some parts you had to climb to get up, I managed to pass everyone by two thirds of the way up, I was exhausted.
Just when I thought I would coast to the top I suddenly became aware of Rachel literally stood behind me, this spurred me to keep running, and I managed to get to the top in 35 minutes, I was a mess but secretly very pleased.
(At the top after the time trial, the town we started from is in the background).
After this we had a workshop on downhill running by Donnie, we then practiced all the way back down.
After lunch back at base camp we had a bit of down time before driving back out for a sunset run plus a night run. Armed with our head torches we headed out after a long drive into the mountains.
The area we were running in was a rock climbing mecca. We ran past cliffs with topless long haired climbers doing their best impression of spider man, it was a pretty special place. The route took us up to a beautiful mountain top village, here we found an amazing view of the sun setting over the mountains, what an experience.
(Sunset over Montseratt).
Thursday we had a 15km run in the mountains. We ran in beautiful trails cutting along and up sheer cliffs.
Returning to the town we had parked we had time together some refreshments change our tops and then met by Raul, a ‘Via Ferrata’ instructor.
Via Ferrata is a form of climbing were a course is already laid out for you with safety ropes to clip on to , metal steps and handles fixed to the cliffs and rope bridges. It was really fun although pretty exposed to the sun. I definitely topped up my tan that afternoon. All in all a really great day.
Friday was ‘hill repeat’ day.
Donnie took us to the hill in question, a lovely rocky shaded trail. After a quick intro to uphill running it was left to us to get as many hill reps out in 45 mins. I usually do 10 on my local hill, today I managed 27! Really loved this session although on the run after, my legs were fried.
On returning to the van we found a lovely spring and all dipped our legs in for a cool down.
Friday afternoon we all got treated to a strength session on the football pitch back at camp, Donnie took us through some glute activation exercises and a good stretch. Then as a reward…. an hour in the spa, sauna, cold pool, jacuzzi.
Saturday was the last day of the camp, and Donnie had a final long run planned for us. It ended up as 32 km , this was the icing on the cake as we ended up running along skyline ridges with views stretching out below us, again a few of us made use of the natural rock pools and had a dip at the end of the run.
That night we had a few drinks at the bar, and it was a fitting end to a wonderful week.
Really enjoyed this experience and was happy with my fitness and performance. Got a good amount of mileage in and lots of accent. My 82 mile event is now less than four weeks away but I’m feeling confident, my ankle was a little sore this week but I have been resting and saving any big effort for two long runs I have penciled in for the weekend. Just treadmill speed sessions and gym for me until then.
Oh yes and there is an ultra taking place in October in Montseratt. Registration opens in two days……..