An Insight into UELBC’s Altitude Training Camp

Most rowers when they hear the words “training camp” immediately think of really really long rows, and lots of blisters. As an athlete who comes from a program where training camp means rowing 2-3 times a day (averaging 35km-40km) and doing casual 3 mile warm up runs for 9 days straight, “training camp” is something that one needs to be mentally prepared for.

At UEL winter training camp consists of going on a ski trip in the Pyrenees Mountains in the South of France (or so we thought). Initial thought… Jackpot! How did I get so lucky to go on ski vacation with my closest friends and call it a training camp?


UELBC Rower head off to the UELBC Altitude Training Camp 2014

Upon our arrival to the incredible Centre National d’Entrainement en Altitude (CNEA / CREPS) in Font-Romeu training facility, specifically designed for high-caliber athletes, we realized the training camp was going to be a little different than expected and that we had overlooked a couple key facts…

Skiing meant cross-country and not downhill
This news was gently broke to us prior to the trip. However, none of us realized that cross-country skiing was essentially climbing mountains (the same ones that the downhill skiers took lifts to get up) with massive skates on your feet. Hello heart rate 200.


None of us actually know how to ski
While we were being sidetracked with all the beautiful scenery, none of us really took a second to think about the fact that no one knows how to ski. For the normal coordinated individual this would not be a huge issue, but when you get a group of slightly uncoordinated rowers on skis you will quickly realize that you will be spending more time in the snow instead of on skis.

UELBC Rowers in the first attempts of Cross Country Skiing


High-altitude = not being able to breath
Because cross-country skiing isn’t hard enough on its own, add in the high-altitude factor and this ensures that you will feel like you’re dying for the first couple days. Even the simplest things like walking to the mountain entrance, and tying up your skis leave you breathless and make you look incredibly out of shape as some pro’s ski past you.

UELBC Rowers walked up the mountain to the cross country skiing tracks


Nature excursion means cross-country skiing through the tundra
If someone says that they want to take you on a cross-country nature day excursion say “Nooo”! This was one of the most physically straining, mentally challenging and incredible days we had in France. We got to ski over a 3km frozen lake in tundra-like weather conditions. Physically, it was the longest any of us had ever skied, and mentally we had to fight through the insane weather conditions while acknowledging the incredible fact that we were skiing across a lake!

UELBC Rowers cross country skiing over a lake in Font-Romeu, France


Overall, Font-Romeu was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, we had the opportunity to learn a new sport, and as a team we came back fitter than ever. One of my teammates came back and ran 7 miles on the treadmill only doing nose breathing… so crazy. UEL Rowing really knows how to make a good winter training camp.

Until next time…


Felicia Izaguirre
UELBC Rowing Scholar


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *