Inside the mind of the warm-weather trainer

Fighting back the urge to un-clench his abs as they glistened beneath a stream of carrot oil in the burning sun, Irish athlete Tommy Suntan explained why he came to Monte Gordo to begin his preparations for the outdoor track season.

“It’s mandatory,” he said, taking the lid off his bottle of carrot oil and pouring it down his torso, unwilling to accept the limits of dispensation imposed by the spray-cap. “You see, this time of year, I have two weeks off from college. Wait, actually, I don’t think I do, and am already falling pretty far behind, but y’know what, everyone else is here, so I said I should be too.”

Suntan, 22, who is a sprint specialist, has trebled his daily training load since arriving in Monte Gordo, a beach resort which sits on the Algarve and is frequented at this time of year by a mix of elite athletes, pensioners clinging on to a semblance of life, and wannabe elite athletes clinging on to the idea that they might just be good someday if they train like an elite for a whole two weeks a year.

Upping the load

“Well, y’see, at home I can only train three times a week,” continued Suntan. “The rain, the wind, the muck, the girlfriend asking me to go see that shit new Adam Sandler movie with her; it all adds up. Basically, I can’t train properly at home. The sun doesn’t shine, you see, which means I’m deficient in Vitamin D, which means I can’t train, because my immune system will break down, or I’ll get injured, or something. Dunno, I read it in the RTE Guide once while I was waiting to get a malignant mole examined at the Doctor’s.”

Suntan was between training sessions in the Portuguese town when JumpingTheGun caught up with him. “I  did 10 x 150 this morning,” he recalled. “Then I came h0me and had my breakfast in the swimming pool because I saw Teddy Tamgho do that the other day so I thought it must be good. I normally have porridge but the hotel has these mini-croissants with cheese and ham so I decided to have 12 of them. I saw Teddy Tamgho eat one so I said they must be good. After that it was straight to the beach, where I swam in the ocean and played a game of beach volleyball with some Finnish girls who quickly asked me to leave.”

Burn Baby Burn

Undeterred, Suntan used his opportunity at the beach to “catch some rays”, sounding every inch the Californian surfer his encrusted Billabong shorts and beaded necklace seemed to be trying to emulate. “I know some people wear sun cream, but I laugh at them,” smiled Suntan. “It’s 30 degrees here, why would you want to deny that sun when you can get bronzed? I mean, look at that chump over there, white as a ghost. You can’t win national seniors being as white as that. I pity him.”

After his spell at the beach, Suntan returned to his hotel room for an afternoon nap. “It increases some hormone,” he explained, wagging a finger in the manner of an expert endocrinologist. “I don’t go to class back home, so I could really do this every day, but instead I watch Home and Away,” he explained, before falling exhausted onto his bed and instead of sleeping, proceeding to spend the next hour choosing which filters and hashtags would make the maximum impact to his social media following.

“The key, I find, is to make sure the sun is over your shoulder,” he explained with the wisdom of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer. “You see, that way, your abs look absolutely ripped, and I always make sure I’m topless. Half the reason I train is for those Facebook posts. I got 122 likes on one the other day, and 33 of those were from girls.”

Suntan explained that the key to a good warm weather training expedition was to ensure everyone knew you were in fact warm weather training, and not still hiding out on a couch in Athlone watching NetFlix. “I mean, why else would you do it?” he asked, as he finally settled on a filter for his latest Instagram post.

After lunch, which consisted of four scoops of ice cream from the local Gelateria and three lattes, Suntan cycled to the track to do a three-hour weights session. “I don’t normally do weights,” he explained, being the only topless athlete in a heavily air-conditioned gym which was actually quite cold. “But I thought while I’m here, I can train so much harder. I mean, you can’t overtrain in weather like this, Vitamin D, y’know.”

After his weights session was completed, Suntan took to the track where he placed his Ipod and speakers on the in-field so everyone could hear his playlist as he wondered what he should do next. “This is the new Calvin Harris, amazing,” he said, placing the speakers on the grass, directly in the path of Polish long jumpers who were doing a bounding session.

“I saw Teddy Tamgho do plyometrics the other day, so I’m going to give them a go now,” he said. “I came here to get stronger, faster, and more explosive. Why only aim for one when you can have all three?”

Night Owl

After completing his third session of the day, Suntan cycled back to his hotel to prepare for dinner. “I like to get dressed up,” he explained, styling his hair with his right hand while simultaneously studying an image of Conor McGregor on his Iphone 16. “I saw this French pole vaulter look at me in the gym. The lads said she was just annoyed because I stayed using the bench press for 45 minutes, but I know different. I know what lust looks like on the face of a woman.”

Grimacing strongly as he put on his too-tight shirt which chafed his crimson skin, Suntan explained that he wasn’t worried about the damage inflicted that day. “I have a few moles that got a bit bigger, which my mother warned me about, and yeah, I’m peeling like a shedding snake and can’t sleep at night, but don’t forget, it’ll turn to tan eventually, and then it’s all gravy. I’m not worried about cancer. Young people don’t get skin cancer.”

Checking his hair one last time before setting off to interrupt the night of that French pole vaulter, Suntan couldn’t help but feel the trip to the Algarve had set him up for a great summer.

“Jesus,” he said, visibly excited as he strode alone into the night, “can you imagine how good I’m going to look when I win National Seniors?”





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Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy is a freelance journalist, a once-serious, now-retired athlete who writes for a number of international publications in the running industry. He previously worked for the Sunday Tribune, Irish Runner magazine and has written for the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner and the Guardian. He is also a regular contributor to Runner's World.
His banter levels are often poor, occasionally exceptional.

1 Comment

  1. John Maye
    April 1, 2015 at 9:32 pm — Reply

    Thank you
    Thank you
    Thank you….

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