Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Summer?

As promised... more blog updates.

Last week I drove over to Geilo.  The plan was to have a few meetings with my coach(s), and get everything sorted for next season.  I wasn't so pleasantly surprised to be told I was running a lactate test on the treadmill the next morning, 5min after arriving. A lactate test is supposedly up to lactate threshold. Running 5 min intervals with the speed slowly increasing, and lactate being measured at the end of each interval.  But it always ends up with me running over threshold for at least 10min at the end of the session.  This time was no different. Just as painful.  The most annoying thing about the test is that it is inside.  It drives me mad, starring at the wall, but getting no closer.
After the lactate test we had a few good technique sessions, which resulted in the decision to go up 2.5cm in my skate pole length.  I've skied on 172.5cm poles since I was 16. Occasionally dropping down to 170cm to borrow a pole or use a spare pole but otherwise never changing for 5 seasons. And now i'm going up to 175cm.  I managed to find an old pair of swix CT1 (star) poles in the basement.  I got them 4 years ago now, as a spare pole i could cut down to the right length.  But by the time i needed them i had moved on to triac poles.  So i've started using them now.  Even though 2.5cm seems like a pretty meaningless length, it makes a huge difference.  I'm a lot more tired in my upper body from training and it also gives me a lot more time to use my legs.  It sounds crazy but the extra 2.5cm buys a lot of extra time in a ski stride. The only problem is my poles are old, really long and so subsequently really soft. I tried to some sprints on them the other day and it just didn't work, they bounced about like springs.

Anyway, after the technique sessions in Geilo i tried to drive home.  It had been raining, and i knew there were a lot of landslides and a lot of flood damage over in Lillehammer.  I checked the website and all the roads were open. But when i got halfway i fireman stopped me. He asked where i was going.  I said Lillehammer. He almost laughed and replied in norwegian the equivalent of "not tonight, you aint". So i turned around.  On my way back i was driving over one of the mountain passes when another landslide went but only half way out onto the road.  The lorry in front of me squeezed by and i was the second car through.  I got back to Geilo, but i was pretty close to being stuck in the middle.  The next day i made it home.
I had a really long classic session with some of the other skiers in Lillehammer. I was out for a bit over 3 hours. It was a good session and it led to me being given a lesson in descending on rollerskis. Im not a huge fan of descending on rollers. High speed is no problem.  I have done lots of high speed stuff... with speeds well up over 40kmph... probably even higher.  It is the stopping that worries me. This had been my general approach to descending on rollerskis for the last year.  But as we descended as a group of 8 or 9 from Nordesetter to lillehammer i realised i wasnt only rubbish at stopping, i am rubbish at high speed too.  I only just managed to hold onto the slipstreams of the others, tucking as low as i dare, and standing up to take breaks for my legs. (we are talking 10min downhill here). Every small flat, or out of ever small corned i had to sprint just to stay in sight.  And that was the easy going.  After the last "false flat" and the final descent into lillehammer i was well and truly dropped.  The last few k's down into town start off with about a k of straight road, before a left hand hairpin, then about half a k of shallower downhill before a righthand hairpin bend. The 200m and the final left hand hairpin.  Then it is a straight forward 500m's into a roundabout.
I've devised marks as points i need to start breaking for each bend.  And i always take a jacket and unzip holding it up as a parachute.  The first part of the decent went fine.  I stayed at the back.  We whizzed past the 60kph sign... my normal breaking point for the first bend... the we whizzed past the final driveway where you can pull out if you aren't going to break in time. The guys are still tucking.  I'm bricking it.  I open my jacket and slam on the "snow" plough. They others are still tucking.  They break into the corner and then starting sprinting as the exit... i lose sight of them.  I make it to the corner zip my jacket up and sprint after them.
The second corner doesn't require any breaking... if there is no traffic.  I check there is no traffic, swing out onto the left and sprint out of the corner.  Still can't see the others. The final corner requires a bit of breaking. I leave it as long as possible to unzip my jacket and break for the roundabout at the bottom, timing so there is no traffic i make it back onto the flat road at the bottom.  The others are at the far end of the road, skiing off home. They don't even bother waiting for me anymore.
I just don't understand it.  I push as hard as i can. Cut every corner, break as late as possible.  My only conclusion is that Norwegians have some extra muscle in their legs which allows them to break more efficiently and quickly.
Fortunately breaking on rollerskis has nothing to do with skiing on snow fast. Otherwise i wouldn't have a chance.

The weather changed pretty dramatically over the next few days.  On Saturday night we sat out and had a bbq on the veranda.  My dad and Thomas had been touring Norway.  There were in Geilo to discuss training and racing plans with Geir, and discus my skis (Thomas is in charge of skis). They then went up to Trondheim to "have bants" with Muzzy, and have the similar meetings, before going home via Lillehammer.

On sunday morning i had some double pole intervals. Thomas joined me on the bike whilst i rollerskied. He took some video and gave me some feedback. It was an awesome day, 25 C,  and the road was busy with rollerskis and bikers... and coaches/athletes combing the two like we were. It was a good way to finish of the first hard week of the year.

I recently got asked a question about my training... and ended up posting my training on Facebook.  So i thought i would post exactly what i trained last year (12/13) here. 
I must point out that i think i logged my speed training wrong and most of it is logged as level 1.  4 hours seems way too low!
Level 1 560 hours
Level 2 9:30 
hoursLactate Threshold 15:30 
HoursHigh intensity 19:19 
HoursSpeed work 4:30 
hoursStrength 87:45 
hoursRace 19:30 hours 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Back at it

Now halfway through May, we can truly say the new season has begun.  I've started off pretty slow, some long ski sessions, a few short running sessions and some combined running and rollerskiing sessions.  Although rolleskiing and skiing are essential the same thing with the same movements, they are very different.  Transitioning from one to the other takes a toll on your body and wears you out.  The same with switching from short recovery jogs in the winter to long running sessions in the summer.  So I start off pretty slow with both of them.  Slow, easy and not very long. Now I'm starting to build up again, and i should log a solid training month.

This season I am once again without a private domestic team (norwegian). During the summer and Autumn I will be training mostly on my own and at National team training camps. The plan at the moment is roughly one training camp a month, in a variety of locations. The first of which is the 9th of June at Sognefjell in Norway. It is a similar model to what we used last year, but this year there will be some more time spent at altitude as the cross country stadium at Sochi is quite high.
In the winter it will pose a few more problems. Last year I only raced in Norway at fairly local races to Lillehammer or i was with the British team.  This year I will be racing more In Norway as the World U23's are later than usual, and the logistics or travel, accommodation and waxing I will have to sort my self out. Not to mention on in the longer races I have to get my drinks sorted, and splits etc. Before the 50k this year I didnt have anyone to do drinks for me until 30min before the start. None of these things are a particular big issue alone. But together they provide small nuisance.
Training wise, I don't think I should be effected.  It is exactly the same situation I was it last year, and it worked out ok.  Living in Lillehammer makes it easy to train. To train in Lillehammer and not meet another skier out training at the same time, you have to be trying hard.

As the new season has started, I have been spending some more time in the gym.  The gym is located in the basement of Håkons Hall, which was the Olympic stadium to the 1994 winter Olympics. I have discovered only 3 types of people occupy this gym. Ski jumpers, Ice Hockey players and xc skiers.  All very different types.  The ski jumpers have a disregard for what is humanly possible, folding themselves in half with their heads down by their toes.  Then they pull out their party trick.  The standing jump.  Everyone in the gym turns to watch them as they jump up from standing to have their feet to somewhere near chest hight before forcefully slamming their feet in the ground.
Next the ice hockey players.  Cap, compression shirt, baggy shorts and compression socks. Everything is reebok (lillehammer ice hockey club sponsor). Hockey players have a remarked disregard for technique in the gym. But otherwise they are machines.  They are in the gym the longest of anyone, and they shift some serious wait.
Then there us xc skiers. Coming in somewhere in the middle. Trying desperately to match the ice hockey players on the dumbbells, failing miserably, and trying not to be amazed by the jumpers... because really that's not a sport, I mean all they do is chuck themselves of a big hill... XC skiers also like to be in on the latest fads. They see one video of Øystein Pettersen training strength with rubber bands and suddenly everybody is there with their legs bouncing up and down in rubber bands attached to the ceiling.

The Ice Hockey world champs has also been on the TV, seeing Norway with a disappointing early exit in the rounds. It included Canada smashing Norway by some ridiculous margin, however I didn't get to see much of the game as the tv was abruptly turned off when i started cheering (being half canadian and owner of a canadian passport) as Norway went 3- 0 down in the first period.

Tomorrow is the 17th of May.... Norway's national day to celebrate their independence from Sweden. (although i have it on good authority that they were taken over by Denmark 3 days later?). And then on Saturday "The Tour of Norway" (cycle race) is coming to Lillehammer. Hopefully Edvald Bossen Hagen can repeat his victory in front of a home crowd from last year. It should be fun to watch.  They pass 20m from my front door, so it is kida obligatory to go out and watch, although i might head to one of the tough climbs towards the end of the stage to watch.


As it is a new ski season, as a new years resolution, I will update here more often. Although not as often as Noah Hoffman, the american skier. He has been updating his blog so often, pretty much daily, that he is so low on content that his latest blog was titled "Hair Cut".  I promise never to stoop to such levels as i feel that i MUST update with anything and so go out and get my haircut just so i can write a blog.

Enough news for now