A Professional Athlete Training Camp At IMG Academy
Hello hello! Today I'm writing to you from the most wonderful sunny spot, complete with light breeze and dancing palm trees, typing away with bronzed fingers, the worst sock tan and really tired legs.
The really tired legs are thanks to the track workout I did this morning on my team and I's last day at IMG Academy training camp. We come here each year for roughly three weeks, and every year I tell myself I'm going to blog about it. I've never followed through on that self-promise, but because the IMG camp experience is incomparably awesome, today I'm going to deliver.
What is IMG and Why Do We Go?
For some quick situational context, IMG Academy is a boarding school (7th-12th) located in Bradenton, Florida that doubles as an athletic development facility for both the lucky students and athletes of various levels that visit from all over the globe. Initially started in 1978 as a training facility for tennis athletes, the school now serves 8 sports.
Professional athletes in these sports, including myself and my track team, visit IMG Academy to use their amazing facilities and train in the clement weather.
We stay on the campus itself, either in multiroom Florida-esque villas or the luxurious Legacy Hotel. The accommodations have truly been phenomenal each and every time, making the whole stay feel more like a tropical vacation than an actual summer camp. For a 3 week camp (the amount of time we personally go for), that's kinda a big deal.
We make use of the track, the weight room, the pools, the neighboring park reserve, the dining hall, the bikes, and the expansive turf fields to get some really good training in. As my teammate Rachel puts it...
"IMG is a beautiful oasis and perfect midway point in our training that allows us to focus purely on our craft due to the nature of the facilities offered here. Yeet." -Rachel
The past two years this training trip has been almost perfectly sandwiched between the end of our indoor track season and the start of our outdoor track season. It allows us to more seriously (and comfortably) zero in on some speed work and get ready for the long outdoor season ahead.
There are quite a few different training plans on our team based on what type of runners we are as individuals, but I'll explain some of what went down this March track-wise, next.
PS: This is Rachel. Photo by Albert.
Our Training Schedule At IMG
We keep things pretty similar to our typical training week schedule while at IMG. The biggest difference, to my dismay, is the occasional practice starting at 8AM instead of 9-something-AM to avoid the heat. But coming from the DC Winter, heat is a good problem to have so I can't spend too much time dwelling on the early mornings. (Well I can, but I shouldn't).
Also because of the heat, some of the training focus does shift to faster workouts. Especially for me, our resident too-stubborn-to-call-themselves-a-middle-distance runner team member, speed workouts dominated my Florida training. A week would look a little something like this:
Sunday- Long run day at the nearby preserve, two of the three Sundays for me were cross training though.
Monday- Track workouts based on the type of runner we are, I did a short speed endurance day all three weeks.
Tuesday- 800 pace workout, like 150 repeats!
Wednesday- Cross training
Thursday- Short speed days where I get to work on my form and try to beat my 50m time from the previous week.
Friday- Race pace and strength work.
Saturday- OFF :)
We really got after it this trip with doubles on multiple days of this week schedule as well. Plus strength and stability circuits almost daily, and of course getting in a lift twice a week.
I recently recommitted myself to lifting goals because after the pandemic stopped my regular lifting for months, I knew I had a lot of work to do. I also struggled (even before the pandemic, too) to maintain and track a productive lifting plan.
For the first time in years, I'm making visible (track your lifts, its so inspiring) improvements and feeling the strength from the weight room transfer to my running on the track. The access to a high-quality gym set up is yet another highlight of training at IMG. I'm really thankful for that one.
Everything you need and enough racks that you don't have to wait. Or deal with gym goers taking heavier weights from your rack without asking because they think you won't need them. Yes, this is happening to me at my local gym lol.
Lifting in the bubble at IMG. The bubble was built for the WNBA's time at IMG this year.
I made a lot of strides in my lifting thanks to this wonderful setup, narrowing in on goals, and frankly, telling myself to stop holding myself back. Most exciting for me was hitting what I think is a new PR in hang cleans! Woo!