Jonny Walton Blog Jan 2017

Happy New Year!


We are a few days in to our first camp of the Olympiad, and it’s our first bout of thin air up at altitude. Every year we have a gruelling training camp lasting just over two weeks, high up in the mountains - landing in Malaga, Spain the sun and sea air is soon forgotten as we travel to Sierra Nevada, overlooking Grenada at 2300m. We are spoilt with views although a little envious as we look over the mountains to all the skiers enjoying the pistes, we are however on our toughest land camp where the majority of our training takes place on the rowing machine or in the weights room. It’s is time to burn all those pigs in blankets and yule logs!


There’s no question that the reduced levels of oxygen in the air makes our training a lot harder. Without the correct pacing our bodies can be plunged into serious oxygen debt with our lungs crying out for more air. We do lots of steady state training up here, building our aerobic base to set us up for the season ahead. With the reduced air, our bodies naturally create more red blood cells in turn giving us better oxygen carrying capabilities, this can give us that extra edge when we return back to sea level.  


We typically have four training sessions a day and then a half day every three to four days. Rowing and weight training sessions provide the bulk, to finish the day off we either have a swim or my favourite a game of five a side football where I can bring out my LCFC shirt! We have a physiologist who monitors our power output and blood lactate to see how hard we are working and in the gym we have a specific strength and conditioning coach who sets the programme and watches over our Olympic lifting. However, it’s a much about rest as it is all of the training, so maximising the recovery is essential. It means lots of food and early nights. Typically we are burning between 6000-7000 calories a day so its 5 big meals (first breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner) and then some snacks in between and making sure we are sufficiently hydrated. Eating that much can get quite hard – appetite is suppressed up at altitude but we know if we aren’t correctly fuelled then training will suffer.


The centre we are at is called Centro Alto Rendimiento (CAR) Sierra Nevada –it’s a pretty impressive building cut into the mountain and lots of other athletes use this centre as a base to train. From a 400m running track outside, a 50m pool, indoor running track, endless gyms and sports halls, everything is on hand and with the bedrooms on the top floor everything is a walk away. It makes training quite easy with everything on site, but I’m definitely looking forward to going in to the main town a 15-20 min walk away on our next half day and getting away from the eat-sleep-train repeat.


Today I found it pretty tough going, my legs are fatigued and generally every muscle is sore from the weights room. However, I hope that within the next few days I’ll start to become a little more acclimatised and can take things up to the next level, my splits will start to become easier and can step on and more weight can be added to that bar. Each day is an opportunity, so time to go down for dinner, fuel up, rest up and look forward to enjoying or more enduring another tough day tomorrow.