Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Sensational

When I crossed the finish line of the sprint prologue in the Davos World cup on Sunday the stadium speaker announced that I had done a "sensational" prologue and had qualified for the heats. I went into 26th, and as a few later finishers came in I ended up 29th. I didn't think I had been skiing that well in the prologue but I nailed the second half quite well. The times were so tight and the smallest of gains could mean jumping up quite a few positions. From 29th to 39th there was 0.95 seconds separating us. Less than a tenth of a second per position.
As I was top 30 I qualified for the quarter finals... it's kind of like Scotland getting through the group stages at the Football world cup. I'd made it through the group stages. My quarter final went quite well. I went a bit too fast and wasted energy fighting for positions in the first lap. I would have been better off waiting for the second lap. But I had fun, learned a lot and got to ski in amongst some of the best skiers in the world. I've skied heats against good skiers in Norway before but never in a heat where all 5 of the others were realistically a potential for the podium in that race. All of the others in my heat had previously won world cups, 2 of them had been overall sprint world cup winners, and i'm pretty sure they have all been in a final together before. Just to beat even one of them would have been huge, and i showed that I can ski with them and I'm not out of place at the level of competition. The gap isn't huge, it's something that will be hard to close, but after having skied with them I thinks it is possible.
I really enjoyed the experience, and now I have 2 world cup points to my name.
After the race on sunday we drove to Livigno in Italy. I'm going to spend Christmas here altitude training before the Tour de Ski. The plan is only to do the first 4 stages of the tour. There I should get some good competition training before the Norwegian Nationals, U23 world champs and hopefully the Olympics. 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Lillehammer WC

Having a world cup in Lillehammer is the closest I will ever get to having a home world cup. So when I was planning which races I wanted to do for the season, of course I decided to do Lillehammer.
The stadium there is completely new. The old stadium from the 1994 Olympics is now too long for modern competition. Back then they did loops of 10k, 15k, and even up to 16.3k, so to have 1k of flat in the stadium each lap wasn't really a problem. But now we use 5k loops. So the stadium had to be moved closer to the hills. Apart from the addition of a new bridge the tracks used for the world cup were old tracks from the '94 Olympics. All be it, going in different directions and adding bits of different loops together to make up this new and modern 5k loop.
The new track was quite special, in that there isn't really any other world cup venue like it. Or any other ski venue like it. The closest I could think of is Val di fiemme. But even then its not quite the same. The tracks in Lillehammer either went up or down. It was pretty much diagonal up the hill... tuck down the hill... and repeat. In my opinion it is not the best track ever. I think a good race track should challenge everything and every aspect of skiing. I don't think Lillehammer did. But it was fair. It was the same course for everyone, and everyone knew what to expect.
Before the race everyone was talking about the hills, how long they are, how hard it was. The general assumption was that heavy people where going to struggle. I bumped into Muzzy's private team manage Emil at the stadium the day before the race. He said to me, rather sarcastically "oh, see you've lost weight then"... whilst nodding towards the course, in a sort of manner that said "Mate, what you even doing here, your done for it tomorrow." He clearly thought it was amusing.
I'd like to point out that Norway knows 4 things... (in order) Skiing, taco (yes mexican food, every house, every friday night. I don't get it either), elk and oil. In Scotland we know 3 things. Deep fat frying, obesity and kilts. Now, you rarely see a scotsman going around telling a Norwegian how to wax a pair of skis. So I'd kindly ask them to refrain from talking about obesity to me.

We had Kåre and Åsmund helping us out with waxing a coaching. Both of them worked for Muzzy's previous private team that folded last year. So both of them weren't up to much and said they could help out. Åsmund was on waxing duty but came down with the flu the night before the race. He was really, really ill, but Kåre insisted it was only because he ate too much pudding. Åsmund managed to finish off some good skis before collapsing onto a bus back to the hotel... about 48hours ago now... so hopefully he has been able to get of bed by now.
Classic races are always hectic with ski testing and getting the grip at the level I want it to be. I had 2 pairs to test. Firstly I went for the pair I felt glided better and felt freer when I kicked forward. The grip wasn't quite good enough so we put some more grip wax on and got it up to scratch. But now the skis felt a bit slower. So we got the second pair out. Now they were easier and lighter to go on. But the kick wasn't quite right. So got some more kick wax on them, but not as much as the first pair. And then discussion time came... I'm hopeless at making the last minute call on skis. And this time we had two pairs working. One with better kick, one with better glide. Kåre and I both decided on the ones with better kick on the grounds that there was a lot of uphill, and also they had perhaps a bit too much kick wax on. The wax would only rub off after a few corners and the glide should get better.
After a hectic testing session like that there isn't much time left for warm up... and in this care there isn't any snow left. The race track closed 5min before the first start in the time trial format. And the warm up track was about 300m long on the flat. All the snow was man made with a few cm's a natural snow that had come on top.
The race went quite well. I was a bit frantic in the start but quickly settled down into the second lap and focussed on my technique. A few of the later starters came past me. They were going at this really irritating pace. They sort of eased up to me and cruised past but didn't really pull away from me. Then when they were about 10seconds in front I'd think "I could have hang on to that". I few came past where I considered getting in behind them and seeing how long I'd last at their pace. But I decided against it. In retrospect I probably should have done... but in all honestly I was too scared of the last part of the course on the last lap. It would have been possible to loose a lot of time there if I was too tired.
I finished 74th of 83 finishers and 85 starters. I was quite a way behind the winner, but the course is quite typical of one that spreads the field. I beat quite a few good people, such as Kris Freeman, and I wasn't far behind a good group of people. I skied well and my technique was good throughout the race which in classic skiing i have struggled with for the last season and a half. On a course that didn't suit me. So I can only be happy with how I did. It is promising for the rest of the season as well. I don't feel I'm in particularly amazing shape now, so hopefully when my shape is better, I have a better course for me, and I manage to ski as technically well as I did in Lillehammer, then I will jump up the results list.

We didn't do the relay yesterday for number of reasons. But mainly so we could have a travel day and get down to Switzerland. The next world cup is in Davos at quite high altitude so we need time to adapt  before we race. We got here late last night after an eventful journey. Firstly the bus crashed/slid into a tree in the car park of one of the team hotels in Lillehammer. So after waiting for an hour and getting pulled out by a tractor we set off. The window of the bus was broken but only the outer window. So the buss driver just got out a broom and knocked out all the smashed glass and drove on like it was nothing. He drove quite fast in a snow storm to get us to the airport on time. Then our flight to berlin was delayed an hour. It meat we should now miss our connection in Berlin. But we arrived a bit early so it gave us a chance. We sprinted through the airport and made it. Once in Zurich we had to wait for just over an hour for the norwegian women's team. Their flight from Oslo had been delayed an hour. Then we got a bus from the world cup organisers up to Davos.

I'm looking forward to getting a good week of training in here, before the spring on sunday. I'm not planning on doing the 30k on saturday.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Gålå

The 15k Classic in Gålå went quite well for me. It's been a long time since I've finished a classic race and immediately thought that it was good race and that I was able to push myself hard the entire race. My technique worked well and felt good the throughout the race. The weather threw a few surprises on sunday and there were big differences in the times. Because of the race being run on a 2.5k loop the start intervals were set at 45seconds instead of the usual 15 or 30. So there was over 2 hours from the first start to the last. The wind was strong and gusting all day, and it was snowing on and off. So it helped if you got a slightly calmer period of weather. The time gaps were huge. Although I ended up 27th I was 2.58 behind the winner. The weather, the shorter track and a number of other factors probably cause the gaps to be bigger than normal. 

Eirik, the coach in my club, got some good pictures of me racing over the weekend. I've posted some of them here. 


Sprint Prologue 

My sprint heat with Sindre Hammerlund to the left and Torin Koos to the right. 

I had a good finishing straight in my heat and finished 3rd

About halfway into the classic time trial



Skiing with Tord Asle Gjerdalen, who ended up second 45seconds behind the winner 


6 laps is a lot to count when you are tired. So I had to check with Eirik that I was on my last lap

The wind had blown loose snow into the tracks... so I skied almost the entire race out of the tracks 

Every second is important in time trial racing


Now I'm back training in Lillehammer before the world cup here on Saturday. Its going to be fun to see how I compare to the best guys in a classic race at world cup, as I haven't done one for years. Also going to be fun racing on my "home" snow, although I've never skied the tracks there as they are completely new... or a revamped version of the 1994 Olympic tracks. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Andrew Young Typical Days Training


I've been asked to do a blog in the style of a day in the life of... So here goes. I chose 11th of june because I've got a good film from that day, and it was quite a typical training day for a training camp. 

The day started at 7am with breakfast. As we were on a training camp in Sognefjell I ate quite a big breakfast with porridge, some bread, boiled eggs, coffee, fruit juice and some fruit. 
Just after 8am I headed out for my first training session of the day. A long skate session with some speed work. I wrote in my training diary "long skate session with speed, quite good speed session. Felt a bit strange in the start but towards the end of the session I had a few good sprints. Good session" The session was 2hours 15mins with 30min of that being speed work. 
After training I came in and hung out my training clothes to dry, before showering before lunch at 11am. Lunch was a cooked meal with potatoes, sausages, salad and water. 
After lunch I got a massage from Thomas before heading back to bed for a few hours. 
At 3pm I woke up again and got dressed for the next session. Then I head for second lunch. Bread, cheese, fruit juice, breakfast cereal and fruit make up the meal. At 4pm I headed out for my second session of the day
The plan for the afternoon is a long classic session with a lot of technique work. After the session I had a 10min jog cool down and 30min of basic core strength. I skied for 1hour 30min. I wrote in my training diary "easy classic with technique work on double pole and diagonal. Some double pole exercises, skiing no poles and with one pole. Afterwards a jog and a little bit of core work." 
After the session I came in and had my second shower of the day and headed for dinner at 7pm. As we are in Norway dinner is yet again potatoes! Potatoes and Salmon, with some over boiled vegetables. We got a treat with some ice cream for pudding! 
Straight after diner we had a team meeting and evaluated the day and went over the plan for the next day. Before I headed for bed I had an individual meeting with the coaches to go over the video from the training sessions during the day. We looked at what I had done well that day and what I needed to focus on for the next day or the rest of the camp. 
After that I had a few spare minutes to myself. I sat and watched TV in the lounge area with all the other athletes training there before heading to bed about 10pm. 

And there you have it... a pretty standard day on a British team training camp. Eat, train, eat, sleep, eat, train, eat, sleep. 
The video here is all the technique video from the day. It's quite long and it's just the raw footage with some music over the top, but it gives you an idea of what we get up to when we are training. You'll have to excuse the occasional sloppy "summer" technique and the remains of the off season that are still present...




An Apology

There is no hiding. Anyone who was in the stadium in Gålå yesterday would have realised the organisers here acted as if they had never held a ski race before. What happened was a shambles, and quite frankly a disgrace. It has left me in a situation that isn't right. I have effectively "cheated" my way to 16th place, when really I was 31st. 
In a sprint prologue the top 30 go through to the heats. I was originally announced as 11th, then 29th, then 30th. I have woken up this morning and checked the official results to find out I was 31st. However yesterday there were clear problems with the timing system. I knew something was wrong as my position kept changing but then I was officially announced as 30th. After that nobody knew anything, and anything we did know was changing every couple of minutes as a result list changed. Don't forget that a change in one position in result can move your quarterfinal time my 25mins. So finding out when you were starting was impossible. 
Now the new official result list has come out and I was 31st. Meaning I should never have gone in the 1/4 final. I should never have had the possibility of moving up from 31st, yet on the official results from the heats I'm 16th and I narrowly missed our on a semifinal spot as a lucky loser (4th lucky loser, 2 go through. For me it is rather embarrassing. Yes I want to be racing heats, and finals. But getting to them only because the organisers have messed up isn't fair. It's not fair on the athletes I took positions from, it's not fair on me, gifting me positions I didn't deserve. If I had known what was going on I would never have started the quarterfinal. 

The classic 15km starts in just over 3 hours for me. Lets hope the timing goes better and I can do better than 31st :)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

It's Begun

So the season has started. I raced all 3 events at Beitostølen last weekend, and to be perfectly honest with you I didn't exactly set the ski world alight with my performances. I don't really want to dwell on the races too much so in brief.
 Friday- (With help from my trusty thesaurus) substandardpoorinferiorsecond-ratesecond-class,unsatisfactoryinadequateunacceptablenot up to scratchnot up to par,deficientimperfectdefectivefaultyshoddyamateurishcarelessnegligent;dreadfulawfulterribleabominablefrightfulatrociousdisgraceful,deplorablehopelessworthlesslaughablelamentablemiserablesorrythird-ratediabolicalexecrableincompetentineptinexpertineffectualinformalcrummyrottenpatheticuselesswoefulbumlousyropyappallingabysmal,pitifulGod-awful. 

Saturday - all rightfinein order,acceptableup to scratchup to the markup to standardup to parcompetent;adequatetolerablepassablereasonablequite goodfairdecentnot bad,averagemiddlingmoderateunremarkableunexceptionalinformal hunky-dory,so-sofair-to-middling,

And Sunday -  shamefulhumiliating,mortifyingdemeaningdegradingignominiousupsettingdisconcerting,discomfitingdiscomposingconfusingflusteringagitatingdiscountenancing,distressingdiscreditabledishonouringdisgraceful

There are a few positives from the weekend; I went slightly better on saturday than on Friday so my form should be on the way up, and my technique was acceptable even if my form wasn't there. 
It's safe to say that if I am going to do as well as I want to and as well as I think I can, then there is a lot of work to be done. The important thing to remember, however, is that I have over 2 months until the most important races for me this season. A lot can change in 2 months. And a lot will change in that time. 

    Now I'm back home in Lillehammer before racing BUL-sprinten at the weekend. BUL-sprinten has a pretty bad track record. Last year only one race ran due to the cold, the year before it was moved due to no snow, the year before it happened but it was so cold only about 15 people races, the year before that it was cancelled due to the cold. Each nation and each organiser has a cold limit for the minimum temperature that athletes can race in. It is often spoken about as -18C but I have raced as cold as -20C, and at that temperature racing becomes a problem for the athletes organisers and everybody involved. So races get cancelled. 
    This year, however, Gålå has snow and the forecast is "only" minus 10. In fact it is even forecast to be plus 5 there tomorrow! 
    I'm going with my club which is going to be fun. I changed club in the summer to Bækelaget Sports Klubb. Fredrik who I live with, is in the club, and they have a few good junior skiers. It also means we will have a relay team at nationals. 
    Today I had 2 training sessions a long ski with just about every other skier in Lillehammer. The tracks up at Sjusjøen were packed with everyone out for an easy classic ski. I had a few sprints at the end of the session to keep me sharp. This afternoon was running and strength on the plan. And guess what? The gym was packed. Everyone in there was a skier! From what people were saying it looks like tomorrow everyone is going have a skate interval session. I'm planning on 5x3mins to add the final touches before Gålå. 
   

   Over the next few weeks my training is staying pretty hard with a lot of intervals sessions or races, but otherwise not too much. Hopefully Gålå will show i'm going in the right direction and Lillehammer world cup the week after will be even better. But only time will tell. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Italia

I got back from a 3 week altitude camp with the British team in Italy just yesterday. First we had 5 days in Livigno before 16 days in Val Senales. Being in Italy is always good. Sun, good skiing and good food.
I like to think of the British Ski team as a group of quite intelligent people. Posy speaks Russian and French. Myself and muzzy can both speak Norwegian. Fi is studying at cambridge. But in Italy we are hopeless. None of us speak italian, and the second language, or even the first in some areas of Notheren Italy is German. Fi does speak a little German, but after a hard rollerski session she managed to tell an innocent old man in the car park "ich bin heiss". Anyone who learned German at school will have had that awkward lesson where the teacher explained why not to say ich bin heiss as it doesn't mean what you think it means. So pretty much none of us speak italian or german. So communication flickers between, italian, german, pigeon english and sign language.  It is however surprising how you can get by with very lit communication. At the hotel in Val Senales one of the waiters (Nelu, according to his name badge) had a surprising amount of banter considering we couldn't understand a single word each other said other than "aqua" "mit gas". Nelu also gavee my dad the nickname "Mr Presidente", as he was the one that payed for the Aqua, mit gas. 
I do feel rather embarrassed about my lack of communication skills, after all I did learn German for 5 years at school... 5 years and the only useful things I know are danke, mit gas and not to say ich bin heiss. I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed for myself not knowing more or for our country having a useless schooling system that doesn't actually teach us anything or just for my school which has a useless languages department? Either way, I still don't speak German. 
Livigno is the perfect place for altitude adaptation. The rollerskiing there is right from the door of the accommodation and there is about 12km of paved bike path that is mostly flat. No, there isn't a lot of rollerskiing on offer, and no there aren't big hills. But to be quite honest at that altitude you don't need hills, and the first few days the training sessions aren't so long so the 12k doesn't get too boring. There is also a rollerski track at Valdidentro a 30min drive away. The altitude is lower and the track is more challenging and good for interval training. 
In Livigno we were self catering, but after we moved to Val Senales we stayed in a hotel. The food at the hotel was quite italian. Pasta... every meal. And always with a creamy sauce... or a tomato and cream sauce. Soup, always a cream of something. And pork. I've never seen a pig in italy... and now i know why. They are all served up for lunch and dinner daily at club hotel Zirm, Val senales.
Food has become a real issue with in the team... no, not like the norwegian team with eating disorders and start bans. The issue has come over in what order you eat your meal. Posy has decided that you can't have something sweet before something savoury and so no dessert before a main course. At first look you agree with that.. who doesn't. It's just stupid to eat your meal in the wrong order. And then you begin to think a little. There are actually quite a few scenarios where there should be an exception to the rule.
- Firstly eating at a buffet... there is a queue for soup but not for main course, I collect my main then eat it so it doesn't go cold, then go back for soup. Apparently this is unacceptable according to Posy.
- Eating at a Buffet... are pie is taken out for dessert. There isn't enough pie for everyone so you have to get in quick. The pie is warm. Should you risk not getting pie by eating your main first? should you collect your pie and let it go cold while you eat your main first? Surely you collect the pie and eat it before anything else to ensure you get the pie and the full effect of the warmth 
- Still at a buffet, you collect your starter main and dessert in a oner. The waitress is really slow to bring your drinks order and you are eating your main... you get a dry mouth. Dessert is fresh fruit, sitting there looking all juicy. You know you can't eat the fruit... not until you have finished your main. But your mouth. It gets drier and drier until you pick up the juiciest looking plum and bite into to quench your thirst. That sounds quite reasonable to me. But no... I got shouted at. 

I should point out, we didn't just sit around eating all day. We did do some training. The adaption to altitude went much easier for me this time round. I didn't find it too bad, probably due to the previous camp in Tignes. After the first 5 days in Livigno my plan was to give it bore. A 25 hour week at Val Senales with 3 hard sessions and lots of long skiing sessions on the glacier. 
The hotel is at 2020m and the Glacier is at 3200. The cable car ride takes about 10min to get up to the glacier. I spend my time on the cable car trying to work out "if the wire snapped now, would I survive?" My conclusion was that short of it snapping with in 5m of the bottom station, anywhere else on the line would be fatal. Then I tried to work out if it would be possible to survive if it snapped by positioning myself in the middle of the cable car and using everyone else to cushion my fall. I came to the conclusion that that was pretty unlikely to be effective but worth a shot if it did happen. The cable car also swings as it goes over the single pylon 3/4's of the way up. I hate the swing. Every time I know it is coming but I don't hate it any less. 
Once at the top of the Glacier a short walk and a ski down an alpine slope takes you over to the cross country loop. This year the loop was about 1km longer than last year. 6.4km of track snaking its way around on the glacier. The way it ZigZags back an forth does look rather comical when the tracks are busy. 
The fist few days on the glacier didn't go as well as the first few days of the camp. 3200m is high. The Norwegian women's team seemed to be going a full speed on the glacier and I must admit it isn't so fun to have Johaug come past you, barely breathing, whilst you stop at the side of the track feeling like a 50 a day smoker. After a few days It felt a bit better. I'm not sure if either I adapted to the altitude or I just became used to feeling horrific. But either way I started to be able to ski normally on the glacier and we had a few speed sessions up there. Other than that all the sessions up there where easy. 
The harder sessions came down in the valley on rollerskis. The hard sessions went pretty well. We had a test race, uphill, classic. Not exactly my favourite, but I managed to win. It's a good sign. I was starting to get worried. I have gotten beat all summer in almost everything we have done. But now my form is on the way up, just when it should be, and I think I will be ready when the season starts in under 2 weeks. 
With training and eating there doesn't leave much time for anything else. I got into a pretty good daily routine. Get up, eat, train, eat, sleep, eat, train, eat, sleep. Living in a hotel at 2000m doesn't leave much scope for anything else. Just walking up and down a a flight of stairs was enough to make you tired and  generally hotels are pretty boring places. For the last 3 days of the camp we had to move hotels... about 100m to another hotel owned by the same chain. The new hotel did however have a ping pong table. I am laying claim to the team ping pong champion title. I beat Posy maybe once of 10 times and Alex twice out of 10. After I beat Alex for the first time he wasn't very pleased when I started gloating so he challenged me to a re-match, only to be promptly beaten again. He walked off and didn't play again. I did my best to rub it in. Alex is quite possibly the most competitive person known to mankind, famed for his hand eye coordination. Losing to him is in comprehensible. We did have to check on him after the defeat... make sure he hadn't taken any rash decisions.
This camp was also the first time I have gone 3 weeks without a washing machine in a long time. Now I know what you are thinking... "there are people all over to world who live without a washing machine". Agreed, there are. But they don't have to live in room with Alex and Callum...
Both of them did hand washing in the bath. The smell just turned into sweat masked with a little bit of shower gel, which in my opinion is almost worse. So I just didn't bother. On top of this Callum thought he was getting ill one day so made himself a jar of garlic and honey. He didn't get ill. But I refuse to believe it was anything to do with the honey and garlic. The stench was unbelievable. The room stank, Cal's clothes stank. The bathroom stank. It was like hitting a wall of garlic, everywhere I turned, more garlic. 
The shower in the hotel room was awful.  The water pressure was so low that it often couldn't keep water coming out of the shower head, the switch would flick and the water would trickle out of the bath tap. And the hotel internet was rubbish... and expensive. And there were lots of little kids at the hotel running around making noise. 
Ok I think I'm done complaining... what I'm getting at is that we don't live in luxury. We are there to train, and train hard. 

Near the end of the camp the BBC came to do a piece with us. It was good timing. It was the only day the glacier was stormbound and closed so they had to film us skiing about on "snow" down by the hotel. We each had individual interviews. And hopefully they got something useful from it. Its good to see we are getting more coverage in the media. It should make it easier for people to follow what is happening in our sport. 

Now I'm back in Lillehammer. I went skiing at Sjusjøen and Nordsetter today. I have never seen so many people on skis before. The car parks were completely rammed. By the time I was leaving people were having to turn around and go home because every car parking space in sjusjøen was full. The tracks were rammed as well. In a 2 hour ski I never once got out of sight of another skier. And I wasn't just skiing around the stadium I went quite far out into the mountains. It was amazing to see. I've never seen anything like it. Even at christmas and easter the tracks aren't as busy as they were today. 

I have an easier week this week before I head over to Geilo on Friday to add the finishing touches before the season start in Beitostølen on the 22nd. 




Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Autumn Continues

First thing first... Go and support the British Nordic Ski Team here. If you support us you can get rewards. Supporting us with only 25 pounds gets you a Buff, the multi functional headwear. That's about the standard price of a Buff, so not only do you get a Buff but you get to support us as well. Now I know what you are thinking... "but I already have a Buff, I don't need another one". Wrong. One Buff is not enough.

After you have done that, tweet the link, or tell your friends to go and support us. Surely they need a Buff too, or maybe even a masterclass?

Thought I'd bore you a bit with what I've been up to. I'm going to altitude with the British team on friday for a 3 week altitude camp in Italy. So before I go I've been stacking up on intensity sessions. I'm sitting on 7 in 14 days and tomorrow will mark 8 in 15 days. So pretty much every second day is and interval session. At altitude I won't do that much hard. Probably only one hard session the first week, maybe one the second week and 2 in the final week. So I'm doing a lot before I go and when I get back.
The hard sessions have been going quite well. On Saturday I did a classic "distance" session with Team Hadeland. We did Nordseterveien from Håkons Hall to the start of the toll road at Nordseter. A distance of about 13k and a climb of about 600m. A distance session is pretty much a race, but not a race. A little bit under race tempo... but pretty much a race.
The guys had done it a few years ago as a race. They said that the record from that day was 45:50 and the road record belonged to Sundby in 42:50. My self and Jonas Frorud skied together the whole way and beat the other by over a minute and skied into 46:55. In was minus 1C. Temperature is an important thing to remember when rollerski records come into things. Afterwards a "heated" (excuse the pun) discussion started as to what was the best temperature for rollerskiing. The final agreement was between 15 and 20 centigrade. Why? Much above 20 and the tarmac melts and becomes some and sticky, and much bellow it becomes too hard. The discussion continued into what is the best time of year to set a rollerski record? The conclusion: early September. As a skiers form should be on the way up as they get closer to the winter, but in late September or October it is too cold, and in the summer they aren't in good enough shape.
Really all you can draw from it is not to compare your times on roller skis.
I've had a mix of different hard sessions, some on my own, some with others, some running, some rollerskiing, some short, some long. It's been fun to train hard in lots of different styles, and I think most of the sessions have been good and beneficial.

In the past few days I have turned into a sports star it feels like. It is amazing what an up and coming Olympics can do to the British press. I've been interviewed twice in as many days now. Until this summer the last time I was interviewed was before the Vancouver games, so it has been a bit of shock to start getting emails and phone calls asking for interviews. It's just a shame they cram in 4 years worth of media into half a year.

The weather here is taking a turn for the worse. In my wisdom of old age I've decided winter is miserable and I hate it. During one of the interviews I was asked to talk about skiing back in Scotland, I casually dropped in "oh when I was 14 of 15"... that is only 6 or 7 years ago now... I feel old. Any Winter... cold, dark, cold, expensive electric bills, cold, Norwegian (dull) house lighting, cold, dark, no sun, clearing the drive of snow, ice... It's just bloody miserable. Why on earth I chose to live this far North I have no idea. The only possible consolation prize is that there is snow so you can ski... sadly I have to admit that skiing in the summer isn't quite the real deal.
I think I might change sports to something like beach volleyball, or a sport like tennis or cricket... they don't even play in the rain... sounds ideal.
Anyway. Winter. I've changed my car wheels over to winter tyres today. I was rather nervous... not for changing the wheels... but using the jack. My coach once told me the story of his first car. He eventually decided to get a new car when he went to jack up the car to change over to summer wheels. As he screwed the jack up he went straight through floor as the car disintegrated from rust. Luckily my car survived... even though it's black with a hint of orange rust colour, it is still strong enough to change wheels over.
I don't think I will need my winter tyres before I go on the camp, although it is forecast to be getting colder. It is more forward planning so that when I get back in mid November I'm good to go.

Today I down loaded an app on my phone that i thought would work as speedometer for training with. Giving me average and max speeds as well as distance covered and altitude gain. I had it in my drinks belt for the session... it did't work as it switched itself off when i locked my phone. But I didn't know that during the session. I did a loop that was mostly uphill for the first 1:20 and then about 20min downhill back home. I wanted to see what max speed I could get, so I tanked the down hill. The speed limit is 60kmph on the hill and I'm pretty sure i must have been near that as cars would over take me and what seemed pretty slow speeds and then they would slow down again once they got in front. Clearly overtaking on the principle of having to overtake because they are a roller skier. Anyway I got the bottom, hands frozen, ears turned to icicles... got out my phone. The disappointment to see it had only recorded the first min of the session before the phone locked itself was unbelievable.
Normally when it is cold I use the top part of the decent to get a Buff (see buffs are useful... get to the crowdfunder site ;) ) up. But I had sacrificed this luxury to get a new rollerski speed record. And the damn app didn't work.
The other problem with rollerskiing in the autumn is i have a basic principle that it is not allowed to rollerski with gloves on. I look down on those who do as inferior beings... it is the line between man and boy, the line between strength and weakness, the line between winning and losing. OK so you probably can win with gloves on but I still look down on you. If you have to keep your perfectly lotioned hands, and pedicured nails wrapped up in gloves protecting you from the rough and tough of a ski pole, I am not impressed. Skiers hands SHOULD be blistered. Skiers hands SHOULD have calluses so thick that they make your palms look out of shape. My general theory is that if I'm not peeling dead skin off my hands I haven't been double poling enough, and if I am then i haven't done enough because i should have calluses by now and not blisters. Rollerskiing is a summer sport. Who wears gloves in the summer? Only those that can't tolerate a few rough spots on their hands.
Anyway I've spent so long for years now mobbing those who wear gloves i just feel it would be far to hypocritical for me to wear gloves whilst rollerskiing... even if it's minus 5, windy, snowing and i'm going downhill... no I can't have gloves on.
Now we are getting some cold days i have to admit I do wish i could have gloves on... but as matter of principle I will continue into the final month of the off season gloveless.

The next autumn problem: training in trousers. Ok everybody knows race suit tights go under your ski boots when you zip them up. But training tights are that awkward thickness that i'm not sure about, over under? I've drown the line at if the tights have zips they go over, no zips they go under... But i have a pair of British team Salamon running tights that have a zip. Over the top they look a bit silly and under the boot the buldge and make it look like i have cankles. It is a tough life being a skier. So many fashion problems.

If you have read all that and not visited the crowdfunder page in the link at the top... then go back to the top and click the link, and support us.


At the physio this morning I spotted this. It's a picture of Andrew Musgrave on the rollerski treadmill, bottom left.  Such an international supper star, pictures of him everywhere. Think it was taken in 2008? He looks about 12.

Trousers over or under? 

Despite it not showing very well this picture was taken at -1 and it was snowing! No gloves!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Too quick to judge?

I may have been to quick to call Autumn pretty much disgusting in my last blog...
Here are some photos from this weeks training. After having received a complaint about never having photos on my blog I though I'd give you a treat.
Welcome to October.
Early morning Elghuf session

Managed to be in front just in time for it to get caught on camera.

The front group on the last interval. We did 6x5min.

The Peltonen's aren't mine. As much as I want to lay claim to them just for the sake of saying I have a set. 
As we are nearing the ski season it is time to dust of the skis again. Quite literally as the work going on in the basement at home as covered my skis and ski bags in a coat of dust. I added some skis to my collection this year and picked them up this week. Then we went through all my race skis and selected the ones I needed new stone grinds on. (Restructured bases). I'm pretty happy with ware I'm at with my skis now. Although I still have to test on snow to get an idea of the bigger picture. I'll do some testing later this month in Val Senales, but most of the testing will be when I get back and have all my skis back from grinding. Yesterday afternoon was spent scraping wax off skis so they can be ground next week.
Hopefully the weather will stay nice for the next few weeks. I have a pretty hard training week next week, and the week after is a bit easier before I go back to altitude with the British team in Val Senales. Last year we had a great training camp there, and this year I'm not expecting anything less. It's nice to know now that in less than 20 days now I will be back skiing on snow. Not long left on the "summer" season.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

September training

I love the smell of intervals in the morning.
This morning I had a pretty hard interval session on the rollerski track in Lillehammer. I got beat. Not just a slight dusting up... I got the old one, two sucker punch that leaves you lying in the ditch, gasping at air, trying to hold back your breakfast, and wondering if there is, in fact any air here.
This was like a little personal welcome to Autumn for me, and hopefully NOT a sign of what is to come. September and October tend to be a bit up and down for me, with one day feeling superhuman, and the next feeling like 70 year old 50 a day smoker.

Autumn is quite possibly the most depressing period of the year as a cross country skier, or for anyone. It is cold. It is dark. It is wet. It is cold. What is more, tarmac hardens up when the temperature is colder, so our rollerski tips don't grip into the tar. The tar is wet and covered in fallen leafs, and so our roller skis slip. The coolish temperatures are exaggerated by the high humidity, and after every session my kit is soaked, even if it isn't raining. It is all pretty depressing... and there is only winter to look forward too, the only good thing about winter is snow.

The last period of training has been typical of September for me. Quite a few hard sessions but not over the top yet. There has been a few long sessions as well with varying lengths from 2 hours to over 3. My shape or form has been going up and down in waves. Probably due a little to the altitude camp and then also that at this time of year i tend to see this happen.
After tha altitude camp i had a few training sessions with NTG Geilo as they were in Lillehammer on a training camp. I'm not going to lie. The best thing about being with them was not the training but an afternoon playing paintball. Playing inside, on the upper floor of what appeared to a barn converted to have some offices, we had a pretty fun afternoon. Safe to say, good job i'm not in the army. Got hit a few times. Also good job i don't do biathlon... don't think i got anyone. But somehow I did manage to choose the winning team, as we went on to win the round robin competition. There wasn't a prize...
Last weekend I headed to Trysil, near the Swedish boarder for a training camp with my club. I have moved clubs this year to Bækelaget Sports Klubb. My house mate is in the same club, and it's better to be in a club which is a bit more active, has waxing at races in Norway and the possibility of a relay team at nationals. The camp was really relaxed. Me and fredrik were the two eldest athletes and fredrik's elder brother was one of the coaches. The clubs head coach is only a few years older than me and still training himself. The youngest kids were pretty scared of him and told me on my first evening to be careful of Eirik as he runs a "nazi" plan. Perhaps at aged 15 they did not quite know what they were saying. But what they meant was that Eirik makes sure everything starts on time, and if it says 2 hours on the plan then they do 2 hours.
I remember reading Australian skier, Andrew Mocks blog once. He described having the younger team members with him on a camp. He liked it saying he no longer needed to waste time doing tasks such as polishing his ski boots or carrying skis, as he just got the younger ones to do this. It happened to me as a younger skier and i complained about it, but nothing happened. And now I am reaping the rewards of being an older skier as much as i can. I can't say i went as far as getting them to polish my ski boots. In fact i didn't really have to do anything as Eirik had them on a pretty tight schedule. We didn't have final cleaning in the cabin we had rented... but that wasn't a problem... we had 8 15 to 16 year olds to sort it out.
There were 15 of us in total. Myself and fredrik the only seniors and then 4 junior guys and then all the young ones. We had some good training sessions, i was surprised at how good the junior guys were at running. I took the definitive decision that i would win the Elghufs interval session, but it took a bit more energy that i had expected.
There was also a football match, the young guys had challenged the older lot to a football match as a warm up to strength. We were all useless at football apart from one guy who played for a team. The young guys could actually play but they were to busy arguing amongst them selves over who's fault it was when we scored our first goal. They didn't seem to notice before we had scored 14 or 15 goals. After strength we split the teams into slightly more even groups so we can play another, slightly more even game.

Since the camp i've been training on my own in Lillehammer again. Next week i'm heading over to geilo for some more training with NTG Geilo. Also get in a 3 hard sessions, including a roller ski test. It will be good to compare my results from the test to 2 years ago the last time i did it.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Tig-Nes

"Did the French not go on speak school when they was young". This is a quote by our Finish coach who really can't comprehend the French language and so Tignes becomes Tig-Nes. To be fair he speaks Finnish, Swedish and English as well as basic words such as Oui in French or spassiba in Russian, so we will let him off.
This week has quite possibly been the funnest week i've had as a british skier. The entertainment starts at 8.50am every morning. We start or leave for training at 9 most mornings. I say 9 a little loosely as we have taken it to mean that you can be as late as you want... as long as you are not last. In addition, to make it more exciting, there is an un-written rule that you can't start getting ready until 10min before. So at 8.50 all hell breaks loose. Bedrooms get turned upsides down looking for those lost shorts or heart rate monitor strap, tactics come into to play with people locking them selves in the bathroom where other people have kit drying. Anything to make sure you are not last. On one occasion Posy took this to the next level. I was the last one in the house, but had an opportunity to over take and not be last. Instead Posy locked me in the house. With the door closed i was left fumbling about in a dark corridor looking for a light switch and then a key. Safe to say i lost that day. Most days one of the boys loose.
The last two days training have been a little harder and all the previous training has caught up with me. I've been having a lie down after lunch. Today I walked into the bedroom to find Alex in there lying on his bed with the curtains drawn and his bedside lamp on, reading his book. I asked him why he didn't open the curtains and read using the day light. I quickly learned that reading not under the light of a bed side lamp doesn't create the same "feel", and it "just doesn't feel right",  I feel a lot more educated after this. Perhaps this where I am going wrong in life. The last time I read a book was a little over a year ago... it must be all the daylight that is stopping me.
We also had a discussion this week as to which countries food is the best. It all started after talking about our next camp in Val Senales and how some of the Norwegian U23 team complained about the food after 2 weeks. "not pasta again". And so the jokes about norwegian food started... potatoes and meat were the butt of the jokes. I tried to argue that actually Salmon and potatoes might make a nice change to pasta and risotto. Thomas was joining in, fighting for his scandinavian roots - meat, potatoes, fish. But we eventually all came to agreement when the question of 3 weeks of Sognefjell food, or 3 weeks of Val Senales food.  Val Senales won hands down, and suddenly I'm all the more excited for our next training camp, even though this one hasn't finished.
Before I move onto boring topics like training I thought I'd leave you a few tips for life
- Always have a fire on... no matter what. If you have a wood fire, have it on. Even if it is so hot the doors and windows are open, have it on. After all the open doors and windows will only help with the through draft and starting the fire.
- Sean Banan. (pronounced "shan") Sean Banan is to music what Johan Muhlegg is to cross country skiing... so awful, yet so entertaining... I'm hooked.
- "En kaffe" is universal in every language... say it anywhere and you will get coffee, you just don't know what type of coffee.
- If you ever see one of those electro abb pulse thingies... buy it... they are awesome and bound to turn you into a faster skier.
- French milk is rubbish... don't even bother. My theory is that all the decent milk gets used for making cheese... plausible?
- If you go shopping with 6 people and without a pen to score things off on a shopping list you can end up with 6 chorizo sausages for a meal which requires one.
(Fi says "we had a pen it just ran out")

We have trained a fair bit, but the quantity isn't really what is getting at us, it is more the combination of a medium hard intensity week and a medium hard volume week. A fair bit of training... fairly hard. I've been enjoying it and I feel as if I have achieved a lot from some sessions and others have felt horrible. Most sessions we see some film or a short clip of us skiing so we can see how our technique was looking. Yesterday we had a hard speed session i was really pleased with and earlier in the week we had a classic 7.5km up hill time trial with 490m of height gain. The boys started 5min behind the girls with the aim of giving us a challenge to catch them and giving them a challenge to stay away. We skied as a 3, my self, Callum and Alex. Me and Callum shared most of the work kick double poling our way up the hill. Alex took a turn at about half way and then i was back on the front. I didn't think the pace was so high but after we took a sharp tun Alex dropped off. Callum came through to do his turn and i was paying the price for my efforts. I held the first attack but with about 100m to the finish i couldn't keep on and Callum beat me by 5 second. We had a good training session and i got a few technique things to work on.
Today was brutal. By far my hardest session so far this year. 5x5min intervals skating up hill. We were being lactate tested and i pulled out an 11.6. For me that is high. Normally 6 or 7 is my max on hard sessions. Alex got a 22.6 and posy got one in the 20's. In Norwegian it would have been called a syrafest, that translates as an acid party. It is perhaps not the best to go around saying you were at an acid party, but you get the idea. There was lactate, it hurt. After the intervals i was wrecked. In the cool down I stumbled/skied my way back to the van. Callum gave us a beasting today as well. It is safe to say he is in good shape. Ragnar best watch out.
We have managed to get a few good strength sessions in, but both the gym in Tignes and Val d'isere are now closed as the summer season is finished and the winter season hasn't started. We have trained body strength out on the football pitches. They always end with Thomas's brutal "army jumps", starting lying on the floor, doing a press up, standing up and then jumping. Even at sea level 12 of these is quite tough. But at 2000m they feel like death himself has grabbed your lungs and ripped them from your chest. Other than that, I've been adapting to altitude well. Ready for one more week.










In something un related. These two quotes come from our justgiving  page. "looking forward to Sochi, on the cards for the best ever British cross country skiing results, well done to all concerned."
"The team are an inspiration to all. Keep up the good work."


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Getting High

I'm now one week into my first altitude camp of the season with the British team, in Tignes.  The plan this year is to have 4 altitude camps of roughly 3 weeks each. One now, one in october, one around Christmas time and then one more right before the world U23's in January.
Altitude training is a bit strange and the first week of the camp has been used as adaptation. So we haven't really trained that much yet. Coming from 100m up to 2000m is quite a shock to the system and even short easy training session takes quite a bit of recovery time.
As we are not training so much we have been focusing a lot on rest and recovery. Resting can be tricky for us as we want to train and get a bit restless when we know we can't. But we are surviving. To avoid the cabin fever/restlessness we have done a few fun things... such as taking a trip to the golf driving range up in Tignes. I am rubbish at golf, and on the driving range i was horrific. We have also watched a few films selected carefully from Alex's library of chick flicks. Everybody hated me for telling them that the film "chalet girl" sucked. Apparently it is a classic... i didn't think so.
We have rented a chalet here and are self catering (no chalet girl for us). Callum is the chef amongst us and has cooked dinner most nights with help from others... last night i gave him a break and cooked pasta bake, i like to think that is my cooking duty done for the camp. But i did mutter something about being able to cook mexican... hopefully nobody heard me and i can get away with it.
France is generally pretty good for food. Good cheese, good food and alright bread. But we had to stock up yesterday and decided to do it at a little village we were passing when we were training.  We bought all the bread in the shop and couldn't find half the stuff we were looking for and our attempts at avoiding the drive to the bottom of the valley to do a food shop were meaningless.
We also had a kayak session with a local kayak instructor. Nobody fell in, despite my attempts at rocking the others boats and running into them... such a disappointment.
The actual training we have done has been good. Yesterday we were finally let of the leash and had a good level 3 interval from 1000m up to over 2000m and the French - Italian boarder. With the sunny weather and thin air my sun tan is coming on leaps and bounds. Yesterday afternoon we had an easy walk/run for 2 hours from 2200m up to 2800m and the bottom of a glacier. It was good to take in the view of a glacier, even if it meant a little extra walk in... after all it probably won't be there in 10 years.
Today we had a 4 hour combi session, first we double polled for an hour from 1300m up to 1800m. We had set our selves the goal of double poling up the first bit but when we got there and realised how steep the road actually was, we quickly realised it was going to be a hard task. With the last section an average gradient of 9%, the level 1 session became a little bit of level 2 and we managed to double pole all the way back to the chalet. We had been wearing reflective's to go through tunnels on the main road, so we stopped and took them off and had something to eat before heading the last 40min up 6k and 500m of ascent. The road was now really narrow with lots of hairpins and twist and turns. We got to the top and met Thomas at the van. We changed into running gear and had some more food and drink. Then we walked up in the mountains up to 3000m. The aim was to get to a 3800m peak but the path became more than a simple walking path after a while so we turned round. Despite know everyone on the team for over 10 years now i still learned something new... like Callum is really scared of heights! Don't think he enjoyed walking along the ridge with 1000m drops bellow him.  We finished with a 50min loop around a few lakes back to the van to give us our 4 hours. All in all a pretty good session.
The plan for the next few days is pretty hard, including a classic uphill time trial. Towards the end of next week get a rest day, by that time i think i will be needing it!
I'm sharing a room with Alex during the camp. Callum was the first person in the chalet and shotgunned the only single room for the boys. Sharing with Alex isn't too bad. We don't share often so it is nice to share with someone different for a change. Somehow the girls managed to each get a single room with massive double beds!
For the weekend, James from the junior team has been joining us. He lives in France and was in the area so it worked out quite well.  It's fun to have someone else along and good to see how the juniors are doing compared to us.

I'm writing my blog in the living room and the girls got angry that i hadn't mentioned them much. So Posy is here, and Fi too. Posy got sunburnt during the intervals yesterday. Fi is her usual... mother of the group keeping us all in line. Seeing as almost everyone has got a mention, i best say that Thomas has been coaching us this week and kelly has been here as a physio. Thomas is normally confined to the wax room, and now is like a springer spaniel, let off the leash. Far too much energy! Sometimes when you are tired, someone with lots of energy bouncing around is the last thing you want!

Think you are all updated! and everybody got a mention...
I'm off to try and find some oxygen.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

2 weeks in Lillehammer

I'm coming to the end of a two week block of training in Lillehammer. On Monday I'm going to altitude with the British team in Tignes. 
Training back in Lillehammer has been fun. The weather has been awesome, and everything has gone to plan. During my first week back most skiers were still away or at home for the summer. So I trained a bit on my own and also with Andrew Musgrave. We trained a speed session together and a long running session. During our running session we got rather lost. I was out running for 2.45, i have since ran the loop we were trying to run in 1.30. So somehow we managed to get lost enough for over an hour. In our defence it was foggy. In my defence... it was completely Andrew's fault. He was clearly 180 degrees out. Anyway, after having ran up and down the same hill about 100 times an being completely certain we were going on a new trail but found our footprints going the other way, we found where we were. And we made it back to civilisation without much damage.
Living in Lillehammer it is impossible to go out training and not meet someone you know or someone to ski with. Completely by chance i have had headed out of town at the same time as other skiers 3 times this week and had a good sessions with them. During one session i got introduced to a new loop and new roads... after having lived here for a year i thought i knew the place... but clearly not. It was a really fun loop... mainly because of a 10min downhill. There weren't any bad corners and it was really high speeds in places. 
An article came out this week in a local news paper. It reckons there are about 500 skiers who roller ski. Which maybe explains why I always end up meeting people out training. Anyway the article was about a local politician complaining about roller skiers going up and DOWN Nordseterveien. Nordseterveien is the road connecting the town to the Birkebeiner ski stadium and roller ski track. It is about a 400m height difference and the road has 3 hairpin bends. The article reckoned we reach 50kmph going down the road, which is the speed limit. The idea is to ban rollerskiing on the road and build a foot path beside the road that we have to use. It has caused a lot of talk amongst skiers in the town. It won't be done until next year... but even so nearly every skier i have talked to about it has complained. The first complaint is that rollerskis don't have breaks so if we go down a footpath with walkers, dogs and cars cross into drives or other roads we can't stop... on the road we have right of way and can carry on down to the bottom. The other complaint is that if they did ban rollerskiiing on the road they would have a world class facility at the top of the hill that nobody would use. I read a tweet the other day that said if Lillehammer was to be one of the major winter sports resorts in Europe then rollerskiing on Nordseterveien has to be tolerated. 
Your can read the article here.... if your norwegian or google translate skills are up to scratch. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future... 

I had a fun running session this week were I ended up running through some bogs, I knew i was running towards a boggy section but my memory was that it was only about 1km long from having skied that way in the winter. Turns out it is much longer than i remembered... and the bog sort of turns into a lake... I ended up sort of swim/wading may way across with mud up to my waist. It is a good job the washing machine works.  I had forgotten how much washing i have to do when i'm training lots. Just about every other day it feels like i have a new load of washing of sweaty training tops, shorts and socks. Carrying washing up and down the basement is more tiring than the actually training.

Yesterday i had an interval session with Gjøran Tefre and a few other skiers. Gjøran was at NTG Geilo at the same time i was training there and he is now on the Norwegian Junior team. We are both still coach by Geir Endre so will probably end up training quite a bit together throughout the autumn and winter. The plan was 5x10min starting up the now infamous Nordseterveien and then finishing in the rollerski track. The first two went quite nice and controlled before we came to the track. The last 3 the speed was a bit higher as the terrain was more varied with flats, downs and ups instead of the constant uphill on the road. We started as a group of 5 but after 3 we were down to a group of 4. Me, 2 junior and a biathlete... I was not particularly happy that 2 juniors and a biathlete had managed to keep up (in all fairness the biathlete is a senior). So on the last interval i put in a dig on the toughest climb on the loop. Gjøran kept up and we dropped to two others. The long descent afterwards let everyone come back together, however. We had a really good session and for my part everything worked as it should... even if they did all manage to keep up... it's on snow that counts anyway! 

This morning i trained strength at Haakons Hall. I was the first person in the Gym and awaiting me beside the lifting platform was a mouse. Pulling a mental blank and forgetting the norwegian word for mouse i took a picture on my phone and showed it to the guys working at reception... a quick drop of 5kg disc ended the poor things journey into the weightlifting world.  The guy from reception was so pleased with him self for having killed it before he realised it meant he had to wash to floor, the 5kg disc and get rid of the body. 

This afternoon i have my last session before the camp as i have a rest day tomorrow.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Back in Lillehammer

So I'm now back in Lillehammer for a few weeks of training before the first of two altitude training blocks with the British team. The idea has been to train a little more intensive these two weeks as it is harder to train intervals at altitude. I got here last night and arrived to find the driveway was no longer a drive way but a pit. Fredrik and his dad appeared from the pit. They have been doing up the house, so we now have wood panelling instead of concrete walls. The garage is being converted into a wax/storage room, and so has been enlarged and given a door. The insulation and flooring are going down in the garage at the moment. The pit is to build a new staircase down to the basement. The plan is a new entrance, bathroom, living room, kitchen and a few bedrooms down in the basement.

The last week since the camp has been pretty relaxed on the training front. I have been tired and so just trained one session every day. I felt pretty horrific after the camp. I had to sleep a lot for the first few days and i didn't really feel fully recovered until a few days ago. I had some good sessions though. Notably my last classic rollerski session in Scotland. Aberdeenshire is pretty much prefect for classic roller skiing. Lots of small single lane roads between the fields, short ups and downs, lots of terrain to keep you entertained for those long sessions. I have really enjoyed my classic training this summer, and so i have probably trained too much classic! I noticed this towards the end of July when i had a look at my training diary. I was quite lopsided to classic. So i have made a few changes for August where i hope to get in more skating and running.
Last weekend we celebrated my Grannies 90th birthday. Granny was clearly excited about it as she was running around like an 80 year old! We stayed in a hotel and had a posh evening meal. The next day we had a guided tour of a castle over on Royal Deeside. I was dying to sit down for the entire tour but granny was able to just about run up and down the spiral staircases. I can only hope to be in that sort of form by the time i'm that age!
My mum and dad left for a summer holiday on monday. They did the typical going on holiday trick and planned to have no food left in the house by the time they left. Naturally they had completely forgotten that i was there for a day longer and my sister was going to be at home the entire time they were away. I had been wondering why there was no fruit, and fridge had been a little empty. Sarah did some shopping and cooked me dinner on monday night. It was a shock last night to have to cook for my self again after having been home for a month.

For those of you interested in british cross country skiing or even just blogs in general, or even skiing in any way, then you are in for a treat. Fiona Hughes from the British senior squad has started up a website/blog. Her goal was to have less spelling mistakes than me and be less boring that Noah Hoffman (you can see and decide for yourself). I'm sorry Noah if you are reading this... doubt you are... but anyway... you do have to admit you update your blog daily, and as much as i like seeing you pizza whilst you make it, whilst you cook it, whilst you eat it, i think we could do without it. Even admitting in some blogs that your are low on content really shows you are scraping the barrel. Shorter blogs with just the exciting stuff, please.
Alex has re-started his blog... with new pictures and everything! He even has a twitter feed at the side! So posh! Anyway at the moment he has video of the ski treadmill from Stirling up... worth a look to see what that is all about.

Perhaps the most important thing I'm going to write about today is this. Long story short... There is a gap between how much training and events the British Senior Squad needs to do for qualifying and performing at Sochi and how much money the squad has to do this. Please support the squad, read the article in the link above, you can donate at this link here. Any support we as a squad get is hugely appreciated.

If you have twitter you should follow @GBnordic for updates from athletes and training camps. The hashtag #britishnordic is now being used by individual athletes on relevant tweets, so you may wish to follow that for updates as well. You can view my instagram profile here for picture updates from what i've been up to. Again the hashtag #britishnordic will be coming into use there from individual athletes from the british squad. So look out for those.

I think i have written just about everything. I'm sorry to have bombarded you all with so many links. But i have just discovered how to do links on here.  I'm sure it didn't work before... but now it looks like it should work. All of them are worth a click to see what is going on in the British xc skiing world.



Saturday, 3 August 2013

summer camp

Where to begin? Blog worthy stuff has been happening all the time... almost like the number 10 bus... nothing interesting for a while then suddenly 2 weeks of action packed madness comes at once. Unfortunately, as so much has been happening I am going to forget something. But I will do my best to update you on what has happened. 

This year our summer training camp was split in 2, or maybe even 3. First we had 4 days in Stirling. Here we had 2 testing sessions at the Scottish Institute of Sport, one running on the treadmill and one doing double pole on the rollerski treadmill. We had a few running sessions and some rollerski sessions out on the roads... although finding suitable roads proves challenging in Stirling. We could also access the institute gym for our strength sessions. 
It was a pretty good 4 days, having all the support and access to it at our fingertips works quite well. I didn't actually train that much during the camp in Stirling. There is a lot of stop starting with the testing and a lot of moving about but not all that much testing. The other thing i find with testing is that it really really tires me. Except when you actually look back through it, only the last 10mins or so of the test were actually carried out at a hard intensity.
On the Friday morning we had a session at the Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow. This was the scariest thing I have ever done. What you don't realise watching track cycling on TV is that the banking they go  round is actually pretty much vertical.... ok so it is only 44 degrees but it feels very vertical when you are going round it. It wasn't actually the banking I had a problem with. I felt I could use it ok, but the straights were where i had the problem. On Tv the straights look completely flat. But they aren't. They are still banked in. I found it felt like i just slipped down the banking into the middle of the velodrome every time i came onto a straight away. Anyway, after a while i got the hang of it. And the last 10mins or so i actually began to enjoy what i was a doing and then we had to stop. 
That Friday afternoon we had a good long running session over Dumyat and into a valley on the other side of the hill. After dinner we drove to Perth and up the A9 to Aviemore for part 2 of the camp. 
We stayed for 3 nights at Glenmore Lodge. We normally stay at Badaguish, another outdoor centre just down the road from Glenmore Lodge. Why? you might be asking. Why wouldn't we stay at the national training centre considering we are a national team? Well, it is more expensive. A national centre, that we as a national team don't want to use because it costs too much... 
Unfortunately Badaguish was full for the first 3 nights of our camp in the area. These 3 days had some pretty good training sessions.  The first day was insanely hot and a short game of football and strength outside on the grass was the first training session. In the afternoon we had a long skate rollerski. Rollerskiing on Speyside is, contrary to belief, rubbish. There are 3 roads. The lift road. The Nethy Bridge road. The Feshie Bridge road. In fairness we use two other roads but they require a drive... Nethy Bridge to toumintoul road and the glenfeshie "drains" road. All of these however require an out an back, there are no loops.
Although the rollerskiing is limited it is actually good limited rollerskiing. For most sessions we can rollerski from the accommodation and the traffic is quite good. 
We also had a long running session, that took me deeper into the Cairngorms than i have ever been. It was a great running session and included all the things that should be expected when on the Scottish hills. Not knowing where you are. Visibility less that 10m. Baltic temperatures despite it being the middle of summer. You know, the usual. We made it down alive, but everybody was tired, cold and wet after 4 hours of running. 
The last part of the camp was 5 days of training from Badaguish.  This was a brutal 5 days... 4 interval sessions.  I think that pretty much sums it up. Every day bar one was hard as nails. The hard sessions were hard... the easy sessions were long and done at the top of our limits for long sessions. We slept lots and we ate lots. 
I have to say it was easily one of the hardest training camps i have ever been on. I think the standard of training was one the highest if not the highest of any training camp i have been on, although there aren't huge numbers of us. I think things in British XC skiing are at a level they have never been at before.  Obviously i say this whilst touching wood! Either the standard amongst the Brits is really increasing or i am in horrific form... both are just a likely... but i'm going with the former. 
The camp ended with a brutal hill bounding session. We try to run with poles as if we are skiing up hill.  6x7mins from the Hayfield up Cairngorm. We got to the final steep section just before the top station. We had 2min breaks and ran down quite far between the intervals. I ran in a group with Muzzy and Callum most of the way, occasionally one of us would get a few metres on the others or start a bit ahead. On the final interval Muzzy ran away from us. I have to admit on the final few steep sections i was forced to go over into ski walking. 
For the final session of the camp... although the camp had really finished some of us decided to have one last ski session together... we had a skate rollerski session firstly up the lift road before coming down to Coylumbridge and back up to Badaguish and finishing with some speed work. 

Now i am looking forward to a few easy days. Today is in fact a complete rest day... but for most of the week i will have at least one session a day. Towards the end of the week i should be fully recovered and able to have a few hard session and maybe some days with 2 training sessions again.