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.