I have had quite a few requests for some posts on many different topics so I will try to address them in a few different posts. This post is about training overseas alone, as opposed to being part of a training tour. I like participating in training tours as part of a team because it is so easy to relax after training and to incorporate socialising into your down time. Travelling alone as an athlete means that you have a lot of time outside of training and not a lot of people to share it with. However, I love the opportunity this gives me to meet new people, relax in my own time, as well as giving me great flexibility as to where and when I can train.
CHOOSING A PLACE AND TIME TO TRAIN
Turning up to a club to train overseas is like showing up at a dinner party as the uninvited guest. You have to have a contact for where you are going. Your first international tours as part of a team are a great way to make these contacts. Speak to fencers from other countries and find out where they train, some may invite you to come and train with them in the future and some cases the coaches will invite you, regardless you have to meet your contact beforehand to be welcome to training with them overseas.
Additionally, there may be some more experienced fencers where you train at home who have trained somewhere overseas successfully, they may be more than happy to help you train in the same place and can act as your contact for the club or centre you want to train at. This is how I started training in Rome, a few Australian fencers had trained there before and the coach with them offered to be my contact to organise training there. For me it was perfect! Rome is very central to the World Cup competitions held in Europe in Feb/March and the training is fantastic!
This leads me to my next point, try and pick a time to train which gives you a lot of opportunity to compete as well. As I mentioned I can pick up 4 weeks of training in between 3-4 World Cup competitions in Feb/ March, which is excellent value for money whilst being in Europe. Regardless of your level (Cadet, Junior, Senior) you will be able to find competitions to compete in, particularly as regional European and satellite competitions are very strong and a good starting point for Australians wishing to compete overseas.
Once you have a time and place it is all about the training and putting in the hard work to get the benefits of training overseas!
A FEW TIPS FOR DURING TRAINING
- Know some of the language. If you are training in a country where the official language is not English at least know how to say hi, how are you, thank you, and bye. This is all about being polite!
- Bring a positive mind set to training. I CANNOT EMPHASISE THIS ENOUGH! You maybe training in a competitive environment with some of the top fencers in the world. Initially you may really struggle at training either because you are being beaten a lot or feel out of place. If you have a positive mind set you can turn this into a positive learning experience ad be ready to bring what you have learnt back home. Being upset or being an ass hole at training doesn't make the people you are training with want to help you. A smile goes a long way.
- Be physically prepared. Sure in Australia the fencing training or bouting partners may not be as good but you have absolutely no excuse to not be fit enough for the training overseas. If you are training in the middle of a competition season then the fencers you are training with have done a huge amount of physical preparation in pre-season or early on in the season. You should have the same amount of physical preparation.
- Bring something to fill in the time. THIS IS THE SECOND THING THAT I CANNOT EMPHASISE ENOUGH! You can't train or sleep all day. If you are travelling alone there is a lot of down time in between training sessions and on rest days. At home we might be working or studying as well but overseas this time needs to be filled. I am lucky that I am training in Rome which has a never ending amount of ancient ruins and beautiful buildings and architecture to explore, however, I am on a tight budget and sometimes I need to rest and relax. This is why thanks to an awesome friend at home I have brought a 32GB Micro SD card and 64GB USB of TV shows and movies. I never get a chance to watch TV or movies at home so I use my down time in between training as a way to catch up on these.