Berkshire-based British rower Katherine Grainger flew out to Portugal for a warm weather training camp on 5 January admitting she is entering a key period.
Grainger and women's double scull team-mate Anna Watkins are among the favourites at the 2012 Olympics.
And the Scot says the work she does now will be key to her bid at Eton-Dorney.
"It is not a glamorous time but a key time when we do the backbone of the work we need to do to get the Olympics right," Grainger told BBC Berkshire.
Last year the pair were head and shoulders above anybody else, going unbeaten in the double scull on their way to the world title in Karapiro, New Zealand and being voted world female crew of the year.
"We were really happy about how we finished the year, over Christmas we went our separate ways and trained individually and it was nice to know that we can to that in good shape," added Grainger.
"It is lots of long endurance hours on the machine and water and in the weights room and it is the tough part now.
"Training in the dark and endless hours of work, it is the stuff that people don't see but for us is absolutely essential to get right.
Grainger added: "There will be more and more pressure as Olympic selection draws closer and then we'll be trying to peak for racing season. We still have a lot of processes to get out of the way before the Olympics."