Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas

Christmas is an odd time for cross country skiers. It is a crucial time in which huge advantages for the rest of the season can be gained, or huge losses. Its at the hight of the "flu season", and its also a period of a few weeks with no important races, so you can train harder or better, for the first races back in the new year. So if you can complete a good training period the gains are great, but if you get a flu, and spend a week in bed you loose a lot. Probably more than usual as the others have had a great training period.
Because of this i decided not to go home, and stay here in Geilo to get better training. Both Callum and Andrew from the British team where here with me for christmas for various reasons. Andrew is going to the Tour de ski, and so has to train well for that, Callum has been at uni back home so not had so much snow time. He came out to get some snow time before the first norges cup in the new year.
We had a few good training sessions, over the last week i have had a test race and two hard interval sessions. On christmas eve i also had a long ski session with muzzy, up in the mountains on some new ski trails for me.
The norwegians, i think maybe europeans in generell, all celebrate christmas on the wrong day. Just to be different. My landlord, who lives in the house above my apartment, kindly invited us up for christmas dinner with them in the evening of the 24th. It was a great meal, i got to try all sorts of new food and drinks. We were suitably well fed, but they demanded we ate more. So we did. After a fun evening, on Christmas morning we had a hard interval session together. 6x4 minutes. It was good session, although none of us are in our best form ever, we all had a good training session. The afternoons entertainment involved cooking our christmas dinner (mark 2). We had decided to have ribbs, the traditional norwegian christmas dinner. Having bought 3.75 killos of ribbs i was a little skeptical of how it was going to go. But Callum and Muzzy, the culinary magicians that they are, sorted out an excellent meal. We didnt finish the ribs but we did a pretty good job. Only a 3rd left in the fridge. After an early dinner, i was pretty full and could hardly stand, so spent most of the evening sitting down or lying on the floor. Callum and Muzzy had far too much energy, and whilst i was having a skype conversation with family back home, started playing a "throw the orange" game. In wich they had to throw a tangerine over my head, as close to my head as possible, without hitting me. Eventually muzzy dropped it and it split. The game the continued to throw the raw egg game. In which they would throw a egg, thankfully not over my head. Of course on of them eventually dropped it and it smashed all over the floor. They then played it again with a new egg.
I was far too tired to do anything and so went to bed at 9pm. The last thing i heard before i went to bed was "shall we play the egg game", "yeah ok", "it broke", "this was a retarded idea". Maybe that extra cup of mulled wine they had, had gone straight to their heads. Im not entirely sure what they were thinking.
When i woke up this morning the floor was clean. So no worries. But we have had to buy more eggs. Muzzy has now gone home to Lillehammer, and callum is here for a few more days. Although now the weather had turned pretty bad with warm temperatures and gale force winds. I opted for a rest day today, to recover from some hard training last week, and so i didnt have to venture out into the storm. Muzzy kindly drove us to the shop before heading home, so the fridge is well stocked with other things besides ribbs as well.
Hope you all had a good Christmas.

Monday, 12 December 2011

SNOW! and other unrelated news

So it has snowed here. Finally we have enough snow to ski out from the stadium, on natural snow. The loop around the lake is complete, without stones, and finally winter has arrived.
And now for news that is completely unrelated.
Last week we had a training camp. But on Thursday i came down will a cold, so had 4 days off. Not entirely a bad thing. I had been getting a little bored of getting up early, getting out training. And a little tired. So now with a few days off, i am re motivated and recovered, to get back out training. its still over 3 weeks to the next competition so it shouldnt affect (or effect) me in any way there. Today i had my first session back, an easier hour of skiing round the lake.
Last week we had a ski session round the lake, in the dark. As it is pretty much permanently dark now. OK so its not, but the sun rises at 9.30 and sets at 3pm, so it feels dark. Geir Endre thought putting his head torch on flash mode would be good balance training for us. I quickly noticed it was SOS it was flashing. SO while skiing, in the mountains, it may not have been the cleverest thing to do. I asked if it was SOS, he said yes, but it was cool to have his head torch flashing. He did however turn it off just before the rescue helicopter arrived. OK so no helicopter came, but it makes a good story?
My advent calender sent out by my mother arrived today. As a child, i was never aloud to be normal and have a chocolate advent calender. Instead this is a home made one, with little bags full of surprises. Normally pieces of a jigsaw puzzel. Then on the 24th a clue to where the box was hidden so you could see what you were actually making. This year is the same. But i am intrigued to see where they have hidden the box.... But also this year, on the 6th, i got face wash. Good to see my parents care about my personnel hygiene. Also some dried apple and mango. This was todays, the 12th. Actually this is a pretty good one. They were scoffed in less than 10mins. The other "theme" this year is Christmas tree decorations. But all the old crappy ones i made in primary school, of unidentifiable Christmas objects. Clearly they were deemed as clutter, and not good enough for the tree at home this year. However this is not the major problem. Having been away for many Christmases now, and spent a few in random lodgings around europe i know the Christmas trees have a tendency to randomly appear when Cally and Muzzy are around (will explain shortly). However in Geilo there arent really any Christmas trees to appear from somewhere, being manly Birch trees. Whilst yes i have hung a few of the decorations on the pot plants, there is a limit to how much they can take, and its not the same really.
Yes, Muzzy and Callum are coming for Christmas. Callum, being at uni, hasnt had much snow time, so is coming out to get some snow training before the first Norges Cup in the new year. And muzzy is planning on going to the TDS so needs to train over Christmas before that. So a mini training/eating camp shall occur. It should be fun, i cant wait to see what sort of concoction we cook up for Christmas lunch.
Geilo has a new supper market. Whilst this may sound completely dull to you, this is quite possibly the greatest thing ever.
I burnt my arm on the oven today, before proceeding to pour boiling water on my hand when draining pasta. Apart from the occasional cooking mishap, everything else seems to be fine. I washed the bathroom today and generally tidied up. Its amazing how much mess you can make just by being ill for a few days. Without the energy or the will to do anything other than lie down and watch skiing or biathlon on the TV, the mess had accumulated. But now everything is back to the normal ship shape.

I must have given you enough, completely useless and unrelated news to last a lifetime.
Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

school sport

So yet another article came out today about school sport, and it has caused an up raw on twitter and the like.
When will people see school sport, or PE at least, sucks!
At my school PE classes were 55min. take out 10min for getting changed, take another 10 for the teacher taking the register and dealing with people who havent got any kit, take another 10 for sorting out teams, explaining the drill etc. And suddenly its 25min of ity bity sport (twice a week). Most drills arent carried out correctly, games are won by the team who cheats the most. Teachers had little control over large classes and it pretty much turned into a free for all. Occasionally we would do something like the beep test, i won every time. But i would only go two levels more than the last person who dropped out. Just enough to assert my authority as the best runner/fittest person in the school. The teachers would congratulate me on running well, but actually i hadnt really pushed my self that hard, was no where near my record and didnt deserve congratulations. This in turn leads to good sports men and women believing that they can get away without giving there best. I have seen this in two junior cross country skiers from great britain. By far the fittest at school, by far the strongest, by far the quickest. But nowhere near the standard to compete internationally. They basically got told they were awesome, went abroad to race and got thrashed.
That is my first problem with PE. Dont get me wrong, i enjoyed PE, and the dirtiest football games known to man, or hockey matches where the goal was to simply hack away at your opponents shins but this doesnt produce athletes.
My second problem is the content of school PE. Out here in norway i happened to walk into the gym hall when a primary school class was taking PE. They were doing a core training circuit. Similar to what i do once a week from ski training. The difficulty of the exercises was immense. And the kids could all do them flawlessly. The could hold a good plank position for a minute. They could do 60 sit ups in a minute, and there was nobody sat at the side. Everybody did it. Even the fat kids tried everything! Including push ups.
If you got even a group of kids from a town with 4000 people in it that were as good as these guys then you would be from the sportiest town in the Britain, let alone a whole school.
My third problem with PE is similar to my first. I was not the best rugby player, i wasnt the quickest runner, i could hardly play football, and in hockey i was only a lump swinging a stick. Yet i represented my school in all these sports. Why? The best rugby players took up smoking and drinking from about the age 15, the best footballers refused to play for a school side as it conflicted with their club contracts and by the time i was a senior there were only a few people willing to play sports so i got called into every team for every sport. Eventually the footballers realized they werent going anywhere big, and most have quit now. A few of the rugby players have returned to sport, but lack the skills they had at ages 13 and 14. But generally there are less than 3 people i know of from my year at school that continued and compete in a sport regularly. Why is this? I believe it stems from PE. They get taught to play sport badly and so this gets ingrained in their competitive play. Then they arent good enough to make club sides or regional sides, get dropped and quit. They are also taught PE is training, which for elite sport it is far from. I didnt count PE as training from the age of 12 as i pretty quickly realized it was crap training.
For PE to work in schools, the content of what is taught, the class size and the attitude of students towards PE must change. I do not hold the teachers accountable for what happened at my school, most of the time they were as good as they could possibly be under the conditions and the curriculum. They supported me when i was training seriously and combining school and for that i thank them.
I would be in favour of removing PE from schools, but encouraging out of school or after school sports. When i started secondary school nearly everybody in the year did a sport. More time and effort to enhance the quality of youth sport, the quality of training, and the enjoyment for all involved will bring about new tallent. I believe anyway. I also think that people coming into secondary schools who are talented in a sport will receive better support, training and encouragement in their sport without PE but a bigger focus on out of school sports. This i believe will bring about the athletes of tomorrow.

It does not tackle the obesity problem. I am just putting this out there. i dont truly believe this, but why not encourage bullying of fat kids? Enough saying "there, there, your just big boned." tell them out right they are a porker and need to lose weight? if the attitude towards fat people changed then we wouldnt have so many. If people learn from a young age that it is not acceptable to be fat, then they arent going to get fat?

im just putting it out there. of course i having nothing against fat people. Thats who they are.

sorry if i have angered anyone out there.
But this is based on my experiences in school.
all for now.

Good start.

So the season has started! Last weekend i competed in Bulsprinten, moved from Gålå to Beitostølen due to no snow. The conditions in Beito were good, it snowed a little bit the whole weekend, so there was a constant top up of snow.
The first race, on saturday, was a skate sprint. I had an ok prologue finishing 4th, but i was 4 seconds down on the winner which was a little bit on the big side for my liking. My time also wasnt that quick in the senior class, taking me out of the top 30. However i was racing as a junior so i had qualified for the junior heats. (top 30 qualify). My quarter final or heat was pretty bad, i had bad positioning and i didnt feel great. I struggled my way into 3rd place to qualify for the semi final as a lucky loser. The semi final was quite possibly my best race of the day. I felt good, had good skis, and skied a tactically good race. I came across the line 2nd, right behind the eventual winner, both of us having completely eased off in the final few 100 metres.
The final was a tough race with people willing to take up the pace setting right from the start, i got positioned well, but out of a high speed corner i suddenly found my self back in sixth and last place. I had to fight my way round the long way into 4th, and by the time it was possible for me to pass more people it was too late and i could only catch one of the guys infront. I ended the day 3rd. Fairly pleased, it shows things are going how they should for this point in the season. Although not to forget the Norwegian Junior National team all raced as seniors and qualified for the heats, so i am aware that i would have been at the back on the final had they been competing as juniors.
On sunday it was the first distance race of the season with a 15k classic individual start. I felt pretty good the whole race. With a fast opening lap, before relaxing into a nice tempo for the middle section of the race. On the last of 3 laps i had plenty of energy and felt good. The hardest hill on the course lies inside the last 2k, i was able to attack it, make up a few seconds and fight my way into 5th place. It is a respectable finish, again showing that everything is working as it should. Of course there are some positives to take from the race, like the strong finish and some things to work on. Again the junior national team races as seniors, but they also went 15k classic, so i can compare the times quite easily. I was the 8th fastest junior, which is still ok, inside the top 10. It shows things can go as planned next month in the first norwegian cup. But it is important to remember that it is still over 2 months until the world junior championships. So there is plenty of time to find good form.
Now i am back in Geilo on a training camp. This is quite possibly the hardest camp of the year. The training is no harder of different that usual. But now it is dark. The sun rises after 9am and sets just after 3pm. Our first training session starts 8am and our second 4pm. So pretty much i only see the sun on the way home after the first session. Its hard to get up when its dark, and tough mentally to get out and train. But i am managing!
The camp ends with a small local race at the weekend called Golsrennet. It should be held 40mins away in a town called Gol, the biggest town in the area. But they dont have any snow so it will be held here at Geilo. Which is pretty handy.