Monday, 22 September 2014

Jørstadmoen Camp

There has been quite a bit of excitement in the past few weeks. The Scottish referendum began to light a few sparks last week and even the Norwegian press was picking up on it. It seemed it was as much in the news here as it was back home. Lots of Norwegians asked me my opinion on the vote and seemed to weigh in with their own thoughts. Fortunately we have managed to hold a referendum without a civil war breaking out, which is always a positive. 

I spent last week on a training camp with Team Synnfjell. The week before my parents came over for a few days to visit me and have a holiday. The weather was pretty good for this time of year. It was pretty much summer. So we made the most of it and had a good long weekend. I was however quite disappointed to be beaten by my dad in a round of crazy golf. 
After a pretty easy weekend with my parents I headed to Jørstadmoen for the camp with Synnfjell. My dad was joining us for the first few days of the camp to watch a learn from Frank, the Synnfjell coach. Jørstadmoen is the location of a Norwegian Army base and is just outside Lillehammer. Through some connection or other we had got a deal on accommodation at the base. We stayed in some pretty nice student like rooms off the base but ate meals on the base. We each got our own bedroom which is pretty luxurious for a training camp. The Norwegian army run a pretty tight schedule and one that is perhaps a little unusual to most british people. Lunch is at 11am. And dinner/evening meal is at 3.30pm. This meant our training had to be on a pretty tight schedule. We had to be at the front gate of the army base at 10:55 in order to get in for lunch. So if we wanted to train for 3 hours in the morning we had to start at 7.30. If the training started a 20min drive away we had to leave at 7.10. So most mornings we were up before 7. However, I was back in bed by 11.30 most days and slept an extra few hours before dinner. We ate dinner before training and trained our evening sessions at 5.30. It caused a problem for one session at the start of the camp as we were out quite late and it was getting dark and pretty cold. But the rest of the camp had quite short evening sessions so we escaped without issue. 
The camp plan was pretty standard. Lots of training, and 3 hard sessions. The first hard session was a track running session. The plan was 1x3000m, 2x1500m, 2x1000m and 2x800m. The week before I ran 6x1km. But I hadn't ran so much on the track before that. I was struggling a little bit to recover from that session so we took the decision that I would just do the 3000m and then some other intervals on rollerskis. The 3000m went quite well, I ran a PB of 9.14. We ran the first 1k sub 3min then the second 1k was a bit slower at 3.05. After 2k the best guys picked up the pace and I got dropped. The best 3 all ran sub 9min so ran well under 3min for the last 1km. It is said that a good senior skier should run sub 9min from ski training alone. Without doing too much extra track work and focussing on running. I can see that I'm getting there, I ran 9.40 in the spring, so at least I'm going forward. I think with another year of good training and (hopefully) running injury free I should be able to make it under 9. One of the guys even suggested I could go under 9 next month. Whilst I appreciate his optimism I doubt it would be possible, and anyway I'm not running it next month. 
The second hard session was a skate sprint session on rollerskis. We simulated a sprint race with a prologue and then 4 heats. There were 13 of us doing the session so split each heat into 2 groups with the 2 best from the 2nd heat going up to the first and the 2 worst going down to 2nd group. I had a pretty bad session and ended up in the 2nd group. No idea why... I just went really slowly. 
The last hard session was a double pole session. The idea was to have some really fast double poling in the middle of a long session. So we warmed up for an hour before doing 6x4min double poling in a group. We took turns leading the group so at some points we were sprint all we could and other points we were in the slipstream getting a little break. The hardest part is actually at the back of the group. When we change over from going a bit easier  down to the back of the group we have to accelerate to get back in the slipstream of the guys going forward. I ended up in a group of 4 and we worked quite well together and had a good hard session. 
In-between the hard sessions there was lots of easy training, technique work and of course the obligatory training camp football match. For once I was actually on the winning side for the football match... it is questionable that, had there been a referee, if I should have been allowed to play to end. There were perhaps too many dubious challenges, and even the most lenient of referees would probably have given me a red card.... in fact there probably wouldn't have been anyone left on the pitch if there was a referee. 
Frank has played football on training camps with both Andrew Musgrave and Callum Smith, as have a few of the others on the team. And so Frank was not expecting much from me. However, after the match it was agreed that I was the best British skier at football. A fact of which I am very proud. 
We finished the camp with a long running session early yesterday morning and I'm having a rest day today. The weather had slowly changed on the camp. From warm sunny days at the start to cooler, windier and overcast by the end. Autumn is now well underway. It is now only 60 days until the season starts. 
I'll have a few easy days now before I get back into normal training. I'm heading to altitude in northern Italy in just under 2 weeks. So I have to be a bit careful not to do too much training right before I go, so the transition to altitude is a little easier. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Last of The Summer

Summer is now over and we move one step closer to the ski season which is less than 3 months away. Having survived summer without any major problems, I'm left with a sort of "phew" feeling. By the end of August training had started to get pretty tough. The volume of the summers training was starting to catch up on me and I felt exhausted. I knew I had to make it to sunday and then it would all get easier. Thankfully coffee and peanut butter and honey sandwiches exist, otherwise I'm 99% sure I would still be lying in a ditch somewhere along a training route from about Tuesday last week. Luckily I survived and made it through to a rest day on Monday.
When I planned out my season I had always planned to have a huge volume period of training over the summer. Before easing back in the Autumn and upping the intensity of my training. Both July and August were planned to be 95 hour months and both ended up at 100. In fact August was 101. According to Legkov's instagram he trained 101 in August as well. So naturally I will go just as fast as him in the winter? This month I've only planned 90 and I'm planning on being a little stricter on my session times and only doing 2.30 when it says 2.30 and not 2.45. Hopefully these extra 10 hours will give me a little extra energy I didn't have during the summer. From now on it is important that my training is carried out a really high quality and hopefully having a little bit of extra energy will allow me to do that.

Last week I pretty much spent my time either in bed, training or walking around like a zombie groping at the fridge and eating just about everything. But I had quite a good training week. I did quite a few sessions with the other guys on Team Synnfjell. And for the first time ever I did the Mjøsa runden. Slightly embarrassingly, having lived in Lillehammer for over 2 years, I'd never done it before. It's a 60km loop around the big lake which Lillehammer is beside. I'd set off to do it with a group two years ago but we did the first 25km and decided to do another loop in the other direction. Other than that I'd always used other routes for my long sessions. Just over half way round I managed to break my rollerski tip on my pole. Then I managed to snap the bottom of my pole off when I tried to change my tip. So I ended up doing the last section alone and with 2 poles of different lengths. I rang up Exel and got a new pole delivered immediately and they also sent me some gloves for the season. You can see the route we went here.
My hands are definitely going to be colourful this season. 
I also had a good 5 hour session with Svein. We skied for 2.30 before running for 2.30. We ran from his house so I learned a few new running routes. It's always nice to learn some more paths and routes so I can add them into where I run and get a bit more variation.  Alongside the easy sessions I had 2 quite tough sessions. The first was a sprint session, where we simulated a sprint race with a prologue and heats. It wasn't my finest session ever and I was quite a way behind where I want to be. But it is 3 months until the season starts and 6 months until the really big races so there is more than enough time to get better. The other hard session was un uphill bounding session.You can see the session with the altitude graph and everything here. We ran 7x5min but used the first interval as a warm up. We ran up the alpine ski slope at Hafjell, which luckily is open in the summer for downhill mountain biking. This meant we could blag our way onto the Gondola for the way down, which is much nicer than running down with tired legs. I felt good during the session and used the first few intervals to get going. For the last 4 I ran at the front of the group but at the end of the last interval one of the others was able to run away from me. I didn't quite have the extra punch legs to keep up. Unfortunately I won't be able to run intervals up Hafjell this week. Lillehammer is hosting the mountain bike world champs. So the hill is being used for the downhill and parts of the cross country competition. They probably wouldn't  appreciate me bounding my way up the hill as they were trying to race down. 
By the time Monday came around I was really pleased it was a rest day. Yesterday I had a bit of different day as well, with a lot of driving. I picked up my new skis for the season from just outside Oslo. Then I had to drive them to the other side of Oslo to get them ground and then I had to drive home again. It's not often I drive for 6 hours in a day so this morning Im trying to unravel my self from the car seat position I seem to have adopted. 
The rest of this week is quite straight forward. Fairly easy training and two hard sessions. Tomorrow I'm going to have a hard skate rollerski session. And at the weekend I'm going to have a hard running session on the running track. Next week I build up to a medium hard training week before having an easy few days. And the week after that is my next training camp with Team Synnfjell.