Imagine the scene: You wake up in a soft, comfortable bed. It’s early, your alarm goes off and rolling over you see coconuts and palm fronds through the windows and you realise where you are, there’s no going to work today, you’re in Phuket, Thailand. Bouncing out of bed you get dressed in your finest lycra, fill your water bottles and make your way to breakfast, bike in tow.
The sun is peeping over the mountains but hasn’t quite risen, you stroll past the 50m pool where Olympic swim teams are up early chasing their dreams. You park your bike outside alongside the other bikes and with the opening of the restaurant doors are greeted by the aromas of freshly brewed coffee. It’s going to be a good day. At breakfast, you have the choice of freshly made omelettes to order, beautiful local fruits, fresh pastries and an array of hot meal options. A coffee or two to wash down breakfast, you tuck a couple of bananas in your jersey pocket and make your way to the group meeting point.
People are standing around, some seem to know each other but others don’t, there is a mixture of accents, cycling kits from around the world and you eye off the nice bikes, both TT’s and roadies. Before too long the coaches appear and give you a run down of what to expect, then you’re rolling out the palm tree lined driveway, onto the streets of Phuket. As you ride past the seemingly endless pineapple fields you pinch yourself and realise this is it, I am in South East Asia, training for a week in paradise, literally living the dream.
120km of rolling hills, highways, beaches, banana trees and a lot of sweat later and you are back home, everything hurts, you are hot and tired, but so satisfied. As you go to walk to the hotel somebody stops you and recommends to go for an ice bath. Try to spend one minute in the ice bath before jumping into the hot jacuzzi, repeat several times to optimise recovery… Unsure if they are joking or serious you do it anyway.
After a fresh smoothie and snack at the Booster Bar, you head back to the hotel, it’s a hard choice between the air-conditioned comfort of the hotel room for a power nap and laying on the large sunbeds by the hotel pool to read your book. The decisions you have to make at Thanyapura Phuket can be quite difficult. You choose to recover with a nap then head to the spa for your scheduled sports massage.
The afternoon session is a swim squad, whilst you are doing that your friend goes to an aerial yoga class and you meet back at the Booster Bar for a beverage, as the sky turns pink and the sun sets gently on the horizon. You are tired from the days training but already looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.
The next couple of days training involves road runs and sessions around the 500m track, swim squads alternating between technique and endurance focus and rides of varying distances and intensities. There are a plenitude of crossfit, yoga, stretching, core and muay thai classes scheduled throughout the week to compliment your triathlon training, so you choose a selection to attend.
One of the things you hoped to achieve whilst here was improving your cycling, on the Thursday ride you have a chance to ride with one of the coaches. He observes your technique and gives you some valuable advice as you pedal along, trying your best to cycle, avoid speed bumps, dodge motor bikes, wild dogs and roosters and refrain from whipping out your Go Pro to capture these priceless moments on camera.
As the end of the week draws near you realise you have been so wrapped up enjoying training at Thanyapura that you haven’t ventured out to see what else Phuket has to offer. You have ridden approximately 300km around the island on your bike, but the beaches and night markets are yet to be experienced. So you do your morning training session then head into Patong to do some souvenir shopping, see local crafts, taste Thai cuisine and enjoy a banana chocolate pancake (or two). A beach massage to round out the day and as the sun sets one last time on your Thailand adventure you have a chance to reflect on the highlights of your trip.
It would be easy to say that meeting and training with a group of people from all around the world was the highlight. Or maybe having the chance to train with different coaches, decades of experience between them and all with such a positive outlook on training and coaching. Or was watching the Czech Olympic Team swim butterfly with such beauty and grace one of the best things? How about the pinky orange sunset over the beach, or the stunning sunrises you saw as you sipped coffee and watched the previously mentioned swimmers? How can you pick just one highlight, not to mention how you feel now?
How do you feel now? Satisfied, content, inspired, motivated, proud? Being in such an amazing environment you have managed to push yourself harder than ever before, in doing that you surprised yourself with the results. You pedalled and powered up those hills when your legs were screaming stop, you ran around that track faster than you thought your legs could take you and you swam up and down that pool like a real life mermaid. You couldn’t have excelled so much without such a positive environment but also know that without putting in 100% yourself, you wouldn’t be leaving with this feeling either. There wasn’t one highlight of the week, but many magical moments that make up how you’re feeling now.
As you pack your bike into it’s case for the long journey home it would be easy to be sad that this week is over, but a smile spreads across your face. It’s not goodbye Phuket, it’s just until next time, for now you have to go home and show your training buddies all the things you learned. Turn them green with envy when they hear about your week, and invite them back to join you next time.
And there will definitely be a next time. Until then remember, you only get out what you put in.