Thursday, 20 June 2013

Rollerskiing

First I have to apologise for writing 2 blogs in one week... now that's just not on and certainly not something to be expected from me. But what I have seen this spring and summer I feel needs to be written about.
I have seen a lot of things on social media, pictures, videos etc, showing people rollerskiing without helmets. Not only at home in the UK but top flight world cup skiers as well. I can see it from both sides... Swix put out a photo of kawalyzck using their poles... good sponsorship... but she is rollerskiing without a helmet... bad image.
Having been a younger skier myself I know that the younger skiers of todays generation are looking at these pictures, looking at these skiers they regard as role models and heroes. On a slightly smaller scale young british skiers look at the best british skiers. They have been away on training camps abroad and competed around Europe. When they come home and train in the UK, the younger skiers copy them. In almost everything. I know, I did it and i've seen younger skiers copying better skiers many times.
This copying even happens with the use of helmets. I skied with 2 (now british xc team members) skiers one summer who had been away on a training camp in Austria. They saw that few people there were wearing helmets and so decided not to use them. One of them fell on their first session back and helmets were promptly being used again.

Lets talk about rollerskiing. When rollerskiing we put ourselves in a similar risk situation to cycling, at least in my opinion.  It is fairly dangerous and we have to be sensible. If we rollerski on the road there are risks from traffic and if on a traffic free area the main risks are from ourselves and other users. If you have ever fallen rollerskiing you will know it hurts. Luckily it is not typical to fall hitting your head rollerskiing, but it does happen. If you have ever been hit by car, you will know it hurts. Every year cyclists are killed on British roads. Fortunately I do not know of an incident of a British roller skier being killed. But last Autumn a young boy out rollerskiing with his dad on the west coast of Norway was hit by a hit and driver. He died. Norwegian national team members have been hit by cars. Johaug's drinks bottle smashed and saved her from serious damage a few years back and just this spring Steira was hit and forced to take time off training due to broken ribs.
So rollerskiing is dangerous. Not doubt about it. We probably can't make it much safer. We can use reflective vests and we can teach and learn appropriate ways of avoiding traffic and behaving in traffic. The last thing we can do is protect our selves agains what could happen. Wear a helmet.

I would never (and i believe most people would never) advise or even let a 10 or 11 year old out rollerskiing without a helmet. So why do we take share pictures of people out rollerskiing without helmets? Why do we go out rollerskiing without them ourselves? 10 year olds or even younger skiers will definitely copy. They will copy what they see.

I dont really care what people do in there own time, how other people train. But what I do care about is the future of british skiing, and the development of the sport. If you are going to be uploading pictures and videos of your training or of others training I urge you to have a helmet on these images. Not just for your own safety, but for the safety of other younger skiers who will, in all likelihood, copy you.


Sorry for nagging you all...
I promise my next blog will be more interesting. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

sognefjell.

Sognefjell is an extraordinary place. You drive to the top of a mountain pass. You stay in a mountain hostel and you train 5 hours a day. You sleep for 12 hours a day, and you eat 5 meals. You will use up 5 hours with getting changed, showering, eating, after meal chat. An other hour is used for team meetings and video review. You get a half hour massage from T-Dawg and suddenly all that is left of the day is 30min. 30min is just enough time to somehow force your way on to the crappy internet, check your emails and read the bbc website.
The schedule is full at the Sognefjell camp. There is no extra or free time and if you do have free time you should probably be asleep. Sognefjell is a pretty special place. Everyone who is anyone in the ski world has been there, trained there, tested skis there. And this year was no exception. For the first half of our camp the Norwegian recruit team (B-team) were there and the Norwegian Mens biathlete team were there for the duration of our camp.
For me the aim of the camp was to train a lot of volume and get in some good technique work on snow. I managed this pretty well, training 30 hours and most of it being long easy training with a focus on technique. We did a lot of film work. And each evening we could watch back our film from the day, compare ourselves to last season and see where we had improved, where we had to work on or in extreme cases where we have actually gone backwards.
The first few days i took a little easy, really slow sessions, and a bit shorter than later in the week. The first few days were also the best weather. Shorts and t-shirt skiing, can never complain about that. After 2 days i began to give it bore with training. I had two long level 3 interval sessions. One 7 x 10min classic and one 5x10min skate. After the first 3 days though a rain/sleet/snow/thunder and lightening storm moved in. This meant we decided to take an afternoon off from skiing and drive down to Skjolden at the head of the fjord 45min from sognefjell. We rented out a games hall at the local community center, and played indoor bandy to warm up before a hard strength session lead by T-Dawg (Thomas).  The following day it was still raining, but we escaped with only 2 sessions in the rain/sleet/snow. Luckily one of them was the intervals, which worked out pretty well for the athletes as getting motivated to go hard in the rain is much easier than trying to ski easy for 2 and half hours in the rain.
The final day and sun was back out.  Rain jackets exchanged for shorts and t-shirts, and a final two sessions with some speed and technique work. I was feeling pretty tired by this point so i had to knock back training a little bit. I trained two shorter and much easier sessions than i had been training earlier in the week.  It worked out ok, but it is always disappointing to reach a point where you know you have to ease off. As athletes, we always want to train more, go further, go faster than before and it often means signs can be ignored, but i listened to how i was feeling and took a few easy sessions.
For the final day the camp moved to lillehammer and we had a sprint session on the rollerski track before a strength session in the gym that afternoon.
During hards weeks like this, recovery becomes just as important as training. There is no point in training as much as we do if we aren't recovered and ready to go again for the next session. At Sognefjell hytta they serve 5 meals a day. Breakfast at 7.30, lunch at 11.30, second lunch at 3.30, dinner at 6.30 and a bed time meal at 9.30. It feels a bit strange at first, eating a cooked lunch at 11.30, but i got used to it pretty fast.
After lunch i would sleep for a few hours or get a massage from Thomas. Thomas is our waxer... who happens to be a masseuse, and a coach. Thomas would also help us with ski testing, seeing if we have any holes in our ski selection that we need to fill in, and he would watch through some of the video with us giving pointers on technique.
At night i would sleep for about 10 hours, and i think i just about stayed on top of my recovery for the week. Now the camp is over i have to take a few easy days with only one training session to recover completely before i start over again with the next hard block.

Now i'm in lillehammer before i head home next week. I will be at home in scotland for July and the start of August before moving back here to lillehammer in the middle of August.