Run and fun at L.A. camp

Matthew Visinsky/Icon SMI

Training camp in L.A. for Carli Lloyd and the U.S. soccer team was a lot of hard work, but there was also time for holiday cheer.

Our early Christmas present this year from our fitness coach, Dawn Scott, was everyone’s “favorite” drill: the beep test. It involves cones set up 22 meters apart on the field, and we run back and forth every time we hear a beep. In the beginning the time between beeps is longer, but the speed continues to increase. You’re only allowed to miss one beep, and basically you run until you can't run anymore!

That’s the way we kicked off our final national team training camp of the year on Dec. 3 in Los Angeles. I think I’ve done the beep test over 30 times in my career, and it’s never easy. The goal is to improve your score each time you run it, though, and I am happy with my results as I continue to improve my fitness base each and every year.

We had a tough camp, filled with fitness testing, double days and a few scrimmages. It had been a while since we had just a training camp, without a specific game to prepare for, and it was a good chance to work on things as individuals and as a team. Our coach, Tom Sermanni, has now been on board for a year and we are getting used to his coaching and playing style.

He held positional meetings, showing us video clips from our games and highlighting common mistakes that we need to erase. We have to defend well as a team and we have to learn to be patient and choose our moments to go to goal. We’ve now implemented these tactics into our training sessions and know what we need to do in order to win a World Cup.

We typically stay in the same hotel when we go to L.A., which we all consider our home away from home. We all have our favorite spots to eat -- sushi, Mexican, a nearby diner-like place called Sloopy’s, and many more!

This year for Christmas we did a white elephant exchange as a team. Kristie Mewis actually picked her own gift -- a Starbucks gift card. People called her out on it, so then someone stole it from her. We had quite a few people steal gifts. And Crystal Dunn got stuck with some really ugly shoes that were hilarious!

Next, we’re on break through Jan. 8 and I’m looking forward to some time at home, hanging out with friends and family. Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. I can’t wait to get my tree and decorate my house! I don’t have a huge family but we will all get together.

I definitely love eating great food and cookies this time of year, too. I usually bake my family-recipe apple crisp pie and it is really good, I have to say. The older I get, the less the holiday becomes about gifts and the more it becomes about spending time with family and friends. Heather Mitts, Jill Loyden, Christie Rampone and I have dinner plans as well, which will be fun!

And of course I’ll be continuing to train, since this actually isn’t a break from soccer, but rather a time to continue to sharpen my skills and push my fitness level at Universal Soccer Academy, in Lumberton, N.J., where I train when I’m in the area.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!