Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Toppidrettsveka

I've spent the last week on a training camp with Team Synnfjell. We were training up in Aure, a few hours drive to the west of Trondheim, on the coast. After a few days of training we competed in Toppidrettsveka, a 3 day competition with 3 rollerski races and 1 up hill running race. The first day starts with an uphill running race before a town centre rollerski sprint. The second day is a 15k skiathlon on a rollerski track. The final day is a 15k hunting start through the city centre of Trondheim. The level of competition was pretty high. It was pretty much world cup level. Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, America, Russia, Japan and Great Britain were all represented. And for those countries that weren't there, they got replaced by norwegian club and pro team skiers. Norway only has a quota of 10 at world cup but probably has 30 athletes capable of top results on a good day. So the depth and quality of field was there. It also felt like a world cup with the races being shown on TV and huge crowds lining the courses. On the final day it was estimated that over 30,000 people lined the streets of Trondheim to watch the race.

We drove up to the Møre og Romsdal region on Tuesday morning. We were staying at Statoil Tjelbergodden a 30min drive from Aure in a little village called Kjørsvikbugen. Statoil sponsors Toppidrettsveka and as part of the deal they provide the accommodation for the athletes, organisers and coaches. Tjelbergodden is an oil refinery of some sort and has huge accommodation complex. Apparently the site has to be "calibrated" once a year and this requires a large number of people, but for the rest of the year the accommodation is unused. This meant we all got our own bedroom, shared a tv/living room and ate dinner at the sites canteen. The food at the canteen was pretty good. It's not that normal to be served sirloin stake on a training camp. The canteen was open all day for bread, fruit and cereal, but there were set times for lunch and dinner. It's safe to say nutrition was not a problem on this camp.

After the long 6 hour drive on Tuesday we stretched our legs with a quick run up "fonna opp". We ran the route for the uphill running race in Toppidrettsveka and jogged back down again. It woke us up a bit from having sat in the car all day, and meant we knew what to expect come Thursday morning. The route starts out on a gravel road heading quite steeply up. Eventually it swings onto a path that turns very rocky at the top. By the end you have to run jumping from rock to rock to reach the top. This session was the only session for the entire week that I even bothered to take a T-shirt with me. It just so happens that Toppidrettsveka coincided with a heat wave. The temperature was well up over 20 degrees each day with it reaching 30 at times. Whilst this did make things easier, we didn't need to worry about spare shirts, extra clothes or having enough clothes with us, it did cause other problems. Having enough water with us, having enough sun cream, keeping cool and finding shade turned out to be the biggest problems of the week.

The second day of the camp was fairly easy with a long skate rollerski in the morning and a shorter classic session with some speed work and cornering practice in the afternoon. We roller skied along the coast towards Aure. The roads around there were great for roller skiing, with rolling terrain, smooth roads and very little traffic. It was another hot day, and drinking enough was difficult. We all drank at least 2 water belts during the first session. It's great when the coaching team have a big sports drink dispenser with them in the car. We could stop and fill up when we needed. I did a few speeds and a couple of short efforts in the afternoon to try and get my body ready for competing the next day.

Last Thursday was quite possibly one of the toughest days I've had as a skier. It was long, hot and tiring. We were up and eating breakfast by 7.30, at 9 we were driven to the start of the uphill running race. I knew it was going to be a long day so decided for a short but intensive warm up. I warmed up for 30min and had a couple of fairly long race pace efforts. At 10 we raced the uphill running race. It was a 5k race with 700m of assent. I had a good solid pace throughout the race, but uphill running is far from my strong point so the result wasn't exactly anything to shout about. After coming out of the tree line there was no escaping the sun. The rocks acted like a frying pan and sweat like oil. I'm pretty sure I was making a sizzling sound by the time I reached the top. There was still no escaping the sun at the top. We had to run back down, another 30min in the sun. We were back at Tjelbergodden for a cold shower and lunch by 12. At 1 O'clock we set off for Aure and the town centre classic rollerski sprint. At 2pm we previewed the course before the women started at 2.30. The course was pretty tight with lots of turns. Mostly downhill in the start and uphill back to the finish. The start was done the opposite way round to a normal sprint with the best starting last for the prologue. I was starting at 15.55 ranked 14th in the event. I've gained most of my ranking points in skate sprints. The points system doesn't differentiate between skate and classic so I was starting in amongst some of the best sprinters in the world. In all honestly I was just hoping not to be caught for 10seconds by the person starting behind me. Last year 11 seconds behind the winner was good enough to qualify for the heats, so it was very possible that I would be caught. I had a good warm up and felt ok going into the qualifier, but I was skeptical to how good my form was. I had a good start, but took the middle section to easy thinking I'd need something in the tank for the finish. I don't think it would have made a difference, I was tired anyway and should have pushed on through the middle section of the race. I crossed the line in 21st but was eventually knocked down to 30th to take the final qualifier spot. I was helped by Calle Halfvarsson taking a wrong turn and loosing some time. Petter Northug caught Halfvarsson and got some slipstreaming off him. He went on to win the prologue and was 6.71 seconds ahead of me. So in the end I had nothing to worry about being caught.

As I said I was pretty lucky just to make it through the qualifier and to the quarter final. I knew I wasn't having an amazing day and I didn't think I had a chance at making top 2 in my heat to advance to the semi final. I thought I might be able to squeak a lucky looser spot if the heat was fast. The tempo in my heat was really slow at the start. The opposite of what I needed, as I knew I couldn't out sprint at least 4 of the others to the line. So I used the first corners to make my way to the front. Then I tried to increase the pace. Nobody else wanted a fast pace and I was left dangling at the front and effectively leading out the sprint for the others. I tired a lot at the end and finished 6th in my heat. I probably wasn't having a good enough day to go through to the semi anyway. But it was fun to try going out fast and seeing how long I could hold on. I thought I was also going to get the double barrel of getting the team name on the tv commentary. But NRK messed that one up but completely ignoring my break and when they did mention it they called me American. I am in no way what so ever American, nor was I on a training camp with them for the week before Toppidrettsveka. Apparently NRK has some sort of vendetta against Team Synnfjell. My team mates ¼ final wasn't even shown on tv, he wasn't mentioned in his semi final, he finished 4th in the skiathlon the following day and on Saturday he finished 5th all with no TV time and no mention of his name or the Team name. Both the positions directly in front and behind him did get mentioned and their team sponsors mentioned. I had to wait for my team mates semi final before I could get a lift back to Tjelbeegodden. So it wasn't before 7pm that I was getting home and eating dinner. It was a long day with several hours spent outside in the sun.

I took the evening easy and drank a lot of water and sports drink. The following morning we headed out for our final session at Tjelbergodden, an easy hour of running. I felt like a bus had driven over me and then reversed just to make sure my legs were mangled. After lunch we packed up and drove to Knyken for a 15km rollerski skiathlon race. 7.5km of classic and 7.5km of skate on a rollerski track. I had an ok race. It was pretty tight with 90 guys racing round a narrow rollerski track. My team mate Mikael broke a pole early in the race, I tried to help him out with pacing a little bit in the classic section. But he was in amazing shape and I couldn't keep up with his pace. I dropped off the back of the main group and he surged to the front. I wasn't great on the uphills, everybody was passing me. But the downs and flats felt good. There I was much better than usual in both skating and classic. I went on to finish 37th, only 1.30 off the winners. Mikael went on to finish 4th!
After the race we headed to the athlete hotel in Trondheim. Another hour in the car necking as much sports drink as is humanly possible. The race only took 30min. Its pretty rare to drink during a 30min race. But I took on two quick drinks during the race because of the heat and still felt like a sun dried tomato on the way to the hotel.

We started the final day of competition with an easy 30min recovery run. The final race was a 15km classic hunting start. Using a points system they calculate your time back the winner from the 3 previous events and set you off at your deficit off the winner. The race loop was a 3.7km loop winding through Trondheim city centre and taking in a hill so steep that it has a little elevator at the side for bikes and a downhill so technical they had to lay new tarmac over a curb and pad the walls of houses. It wasn't to be my day. I was starting at the front of the "wave", the group of people who had no points and no top 30's from the previous competitions. I had 1 point from the sprint, so started just in front. But the line I was starting from got held up for some reason. I had start number 55 and ended up starting with numbers 85 and 86. That meant I had to nail the first lap to try and make it over to the main group. One of the French guys set a pretty good pace for me to follow, but we never made the main group. I ended up in group fighting for places from 30th through to 40th. On the final time up the bike lift hill I got dropped. I was about 10 to 20m off the back at the top. I had been skiing the downhill and flats well so I decided to give it all I had on the downhill. I caught the group and used the slipstream to work my way to 2nd in the group of about 15 people. Suddenly my left rollerski started wobbling uncontrollably. I made it to the bottom of the hill and tried to keep going. At the next corner I just about fell as I could hardly get round the corner with my left ski going about all over the place. As it turns out the rubber had pulled away from the centre of the wheel. Meaning the rubber was free to move side to side. I finished the final km double poling on 1 ski. I ended up 51st.

It was a fun weeks training, even if the competitions didn't go that great. There are a few positives and a few negatives. I know what I have to work on for the rest of the summer and Autumn and I'm ready to do the hard work that's needed to perform better in the winter. The hot weather has now cooled off and as my training isn't controlled by TV times and a competitions schedule, I've been able to train pretty well the past few days. This week I have mostly just easy training on the plan with some speed and strength. Next weekend I'm going to run "Spåtind Opp", another uphill running race. Spåtind Opp is part of Tour De Synnfjell, a 3 day competition, but I'm only going to compete in the one uphill running race. Last year I ran pretty well, so hopefully I can get a good hard running session there. My next training camp isn't before the 15th of September. So I'm looking forward to getting a few solid weeks of training in Lillehammer. I haven't really been in one place for more than a week at a time since the start of June, and I'm starting to get bored of living out of a kit bag. So it's great to know I'm going to be in one place for 3 weeks and I can just focus on training.








Saturday, 15 August 2015

Torsby

I've just spent 5 days in Torsby, Sweden, training with my club Bækkelagets SK. Torsby has a ski tunnel, a 1.2km tunnel, refrigerated and kept at a chilly minus 3, with snow half a meter thick on the floor. It follows the profile of a hill beside the ski stadium with a few twists and turns before it loops back to where it started creating a horseshoe type loop. For quite a number of years now this has been where thousands of skiers log some snow time during the summer. Its been a few years since I was last in Torsby, but it was good to go back and get some technique work done on snow. It also provides a little break from roller skiing and running, a reminder of what real skiing actually is and the motivation needed to keep working through the rest of the summer and the autumn.

This summer has been quite a cold and wet one, it seems I've been in the eternal state of trying to get kit dry for my next training session. I gave up trying to keep my ski boots dry back in May. I'd get them dry just in time to get soaked through again on my next session. However summer has finally arrived. Last Monday the temperature was well up over 20 degrees and it pretty much stayed there the entire time I was in Torsby. A great week to be spending indoors then. Although we trained a lot in the tunnel we did also have some outdoor sessions, roller skiing and doing some strength work. The first session was a level 3 rollerski session with 6 x 3,5km on the plan. We had lactate testing after the 3rd and 4th interval to check we weren't going too hard. On my 4th intervall one of the younger skiers caught up to me and skied behind me. On the only long downhill on the track he managed to get something wrong and ended up falling. I heard him fall and start screaming behind me. I kept going for a little bit thinking he'd just get up and get on with it. After I'd gone 100m he was still screaming so I thought I'd better check and see if he was ok. I went back to where he was lying on the ground. He wasn't ok. He hadn't just broken his thumb, he had mangled it into a pulp. His thumb bone was sticking up from his hand with flesh and the top part of his thumb hanging limp and dangling from the piece of bone sticking through. It wasn't a pleasant sight, I fully understand why he was screaming. We got him sorted and off to hospital for some morphine and an operation. He'll now have a nice month in a cast and probably never regain full mobility in his left thumb.

Most of the sessions in the tunnel where just easy sessions with technique and speed work. We filmed technique and reviewed them in the evening. We also finished off each session with a 15min jogg to keep our legs feeling fresh and circulate the tunnel air out of our systems. The air in the tunnel has had many critics over the years, but seems to be a bit better now. We all used cold masks, effectively a polystyrene cup held over your mouth and nose with an air filter on the end. They help with warming the air up a little bit so the cold air of the tunnel isn't so harsh on your face, mouth and lungs. We also chewed gum after every session to keep our throats and and airways lubricated. These precautions seemed to work as nobody got ill. The snow in the tunnel was much better than I've experienced previously. They actually only prepared the tracks once whilst we were there. I was quite surprised at how fresh the tracks stayed and that they didn't really fall apart even after 4 days.

We had one hard session in the tunnel. A 5x10min classic level 3 session. I had an ok session and worked on some good technical areas. But the video in the evening was a little bit depressing, there is still a lot of work to be done before the winter. I skipped the last hard session with the others , a skate sprint session, as I'm headed off to Toppidretsveka in Trondheim next week. Instead I had a skate speed session in the tunnel.

Our second last day was an over distance day. A 4hour rollerski session in the morning and football and strength in evening. The ski session was great. It's been a while since I've been roller skiing as the tarmac melts and I spent the entire second half dreaming of a cold shower. This summer most sessions have been spent dreaming of a sauna or hot tub when I get back. We started off with 2 hours classic before we stopped and changed over to skate skis for the last 2 hours. We were well supplied with cinnamon buns, chocolate bars, bananas and energy drink at the change over, before we headed back to the youth hostel. The football in the evening was great fun, but playing football as a warm up is always depressing as we have to stop after 30min and actually do some proper training. We did an hour and half of strength work using both "red cords" and medicine balls. After that we had a quick re match at football before dinner. Training in the heat has been so easy. It's easy to pack for and sort your self out for. All you need is shorts and t shirt. No rain jackets, no spare shirts, so spare socks, no over trousers, no hat, no gloves, no buff and none of the last minute fear of "have I forgotten something".

Having been in Torsby I feel ready for the rest of the Autumn. The winter isn't that far away and getting in some on snow time now could help with the transition to snow in a few months.
In fact, according to the rumours, Natrudstilen at Sjusjøen ar guaranteeing snow skiing outside by the 19th of september. They have apparently bought a new snow cannon that can make snow at up to plus 30 degrees. Their Facebook page says they made snow yesterday at plus 20!
I highly doubt I will use the snow much before October and maybe not even at all. It will probably be expensive to use as these new machines apparently require huge amounts of power to run. Instead I will rely on dry land training until I go to altitude in October. But it is an interesting development to follow. It could change the ski season completely with a season running from mid September until mid June or the end of May. Perhaps in years to come we will see this reflected in the race calendar with a longer race season or an earlier season. It could also make the sport ridiculously expensive if suddenly everywhere is demanding we pay to use the tracks as they use huge amounts of money to make the snow. Whatever happens it's an interesting project. I just hope they don't go the same way as they did a few years ago when they opened a 2k track of snow, closing the rollers track. The snow then melted leaving patches of ice and now snow to ski and no rollerski track.

This summer has been a busy one for me but it's almost done. I've not spent more than 4 nights at a time in Lillehammer since early June. On Tuesday I start a short training camps with team synnfjell before toppidrettsveka. I get back next Sunday and then I'll finally get a few weeks of my own training in Lillehammer. 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Gamlestølen Camp

I’ve just finished off a week of training with Team Synnfjell on a training camp up at Gamlestølen. The team has a sponsor agreement with Gamlestølen, they have been one of the teams main sponsors for quite a few years and we tend to have at least one camp a year up there, if not two. The cabins are located at the end of the paved road and provide a good starting point for heading out on long runs into the mountains.

Last year we felt we were a bit crowded in the cabins so this year we had 3 cabins instead of 2 and this meant everyone had their own bedroom and there was lots more space for kit and the general amount of stuff that comes along with athletes. Whilst it may sound a bit over the top, everybody getting their own room, it was ideal. It made recovery much easier. Finishing a morning session and having a good nap and getting up when you want without worrying about being disturbed or disturbing someone else was pretty ideal. It also meant you didn’t have an inconsiderate roommate putting their boots on to dry or something like that in the room. We made breakfast and lunch our selves in the cabins and ate dinner up at the Gamlestølen fjellstue.

This camp had quite an international feel to it. A Swiss guy called Arnaud joined us for the week. He has studied in Colorado and met Rune Malo there. Rune had been training with Arnaud in Switzerland and invited him to join us on the camp last week. It was also the first camp for Kentaro, the Japanese member of Team Synnfjell. I’ve been training with Norwegians for so long now that there lots of things I’ve just accepted and grown used to. But this past week was like a flash back to my first training camps with Norwegians. For a starter every team meeting was in English. Bizarrely, I think I was the one who struggled the most with this, sort of ending up in half English half Norwegian dialect that nobody could understand. Then there was also the teaching of highly inappropriate Norwegian phrases. Norwegians don’t seem to be able to contain themselves, when a willing foreign person wants to learn Norwegian they are more than welcoming to teach them completely the wrong meaning of certain words. Kentaro also taught us “good job” in Japanese (I’m not going to attempt to write it), however every time we said it he laughed, so who knows what we were actually saying.
I could also see both Kentaro and Arnaud looking on at us eating in sheer amazement. It was like that for me the first time I came to Norway as well. Seeing people eat chocolate spread and brown cheese together just doesn’t seem right. It must have been a bit of a shock for Kentaro to go from eating rice and sushi to bread and brown cheese. Arnaud complained endlessly about the chees and how it wasn’t Swiss, but he was more upset about the method used for cutting the cheese.

Despite there being cultural differences the group mixed fairly well together providing an international mixing pot of experience. It was a really fun atmosphere to train in and we managed to push each other of the key hard sessions and learn from each other on the easier technique sessions.

The first day of the camp we had a sprint session at the rollerski track in Lillehammer before we drove up to Gamlestølen. We did things slightly differently to a normal sprint session, but it worked out quite well and I think I got a lot out of the session. Progression is the key. As a new thing this year the team has a captains band. Each evening we have a team meeting. If there has been a hard session that day we discuss the session and who was best, why they were best or why they impressed the rest of the group. It normally goes down to a vote. The winner of the vote gets to wear the captain band for the next hard session. No one has retained the band yet, which is perhaps a bad omen. After the sprint session I was voted captain and got to wear the band for the next hard session, a 4x15min classic level 3 session. Mikael won the band on the level 3 intervals, but couldn’t defend it on the final hard session of the camp a 6x6min elghuf session. Eivind won then band there. He has been sick all summer and it was his first level 4 session back but he was right up there with the rest of the group. Obviously this was quite impressive and so he won the vote quite easily.

We didn’t only train hard sessions. We had a few long running sessions up over 3 hours. We ran out towards Spåtind, the highest point in the Synnfjell area, one day we took in another mountain top on the way to Spåtind the other day we ran though a bog and the woods down the valley to add on some extra distance. We also had a few good rollerski sessions. But all rollerskiing from Gamlestølen is downhill uphill. The first 40min of every session is pretty much only downhill, after that we had to climb all the way back up to the cabins. We still found some good loops and places to do good technique work, but I’ve mostly worked on my skate 1 this past week. One day we drove down to the bottom of the hill and doublepolled up for a specific strength session, it was 50min of constant climbing to get back to the top. At the top we did some speed work before a cool down.


The camp finished on Friday and I’ve been back in Lillehammer since then. I’ve been getting around training in lots of different places this summer and I’m not quite done just yet. Tomorrow I’m heading to Torsby in Sweeden for 5 days to get some on snow time in the ski tunnel. After Torsby I’ll get a quick few days at home before heading to Trondheim for Toppidretsveka, a 3 day rollerski competition.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

A busy July

A lot can happen in a month! July has been busy. I've managed to squeeze in a trip home to Scotland, a 10 day training camp, a quick trip to Reading and 5 days of working at the Norway Cup in Oslo. Unfortunately I've been so busy I've not been able to keep on top of my blogging. The whole blogging once a week aim has gone completely out the window and now I'll just have to update when I get a chance. However my lack of regular updating does mean you get this whopper. Perhaps the longest blog I've ever written. Enjoy.
After 2 weeks of being at home and getting some quality training in I joined the rest of the British team for an 11 day training camp. We had a week training at Huntly and 4 days in Glenmore, near Aviemore. A few days before the camp started I eased my training back a little so I was ready for the harder training on the camp. I had an easy classic rollerski with some speed work on the rollerski track at the ski centre. I managed to fall at the end of one of my sprints and hurt my wrist. I was sprinting in high speed to the finish line of my short sprint. Just beyond the finish a family, with 2 dogs and 3 kids wondering about all over the track, were coming towards me. They kept coming and didn't even attempt to move, so as soon as I finished my sprint I had to slam the breaks on. This was fine for the first 5m as it was dry, then I went under a tree where the tarmac was damp. My skis slid out to the side and I fell flat on my face. Having slid a few meters alone the ground I was now about 2m in front of the parents of this family. Not one of them said anything to me, not even so much as a look in my direction. They just carried on as normal. I had a few cuts but nothing serious. I kept skiing but after a while I started to notice my wrist hurting.
Having broken my scaphoid bone on my left side previously I was pretty wary that I may have done the same on my right side. Thankfully it settled down after a day or 2 and didn't hurt during training. But after double poling and gym work it ached. That continued for 2 weeks or so. So I did eventually go and get it X rayed. But it wasn't broken.
The first session of the camp was a sprint session. In a sprint session we simulate a sprint race. We have a prologue and then head to head heats. This time we had 2 prologues and then 2 reverse prologues. We took the average times from the first 2 prologues then for the reverse prologue the slowest time started first. Everybody else starts at their time deficit/how much they beat the slowest person by. This way everybody should come to the finish at the same time. For the reverse prologues we split into 2 groups so the track wasn't so crowded at the end of the race.
I won both of the prologues, the first was a bit better than the second. I didn't ski so technically well on the second and the times showed that. The last 2 races went ok, the times were faster than the prologues but I didn't quite manage to win. For the first reverse prologue the times were probably a bit off as me and Callum didn't get anywhere near the 3 junior guys that started 40 seconds in front. Callum stayed in front of me by half a meter after I'd made up 4 seconds to catch him. His tactic in the finish was to stay in the middle and block me as much as possible. Whilst we hadn't agreed any rules for the finish straight, I felt Callum was taking it a bit too far by skiing intentionally in the middle. Our skis did actually hit a couple of times. The second heat went better, my self and Callum caught and past the juniors, and once again I was blocked in the finish straight. This tactic has been noted and I will get Callum back for this at some point. Nothing like a bit of friendly rivalry.
We also had a gymnastics session in Aberdeen with a gymnastics instructor. It's a great way of training strength and doing something a bit different and learning something new. We had quite a good session. I was enjoying it until the end. What was perhaps the low light of the session for me but a clear high light for the rest of the team was me attempting to do a hand stand. This resulted in me falling on my head. Everybody laughed.
During the summer camp we tend to have some long sessions to get in some good over distance hours. This year we had 2 long 5 hour sessions. The first was split into 2.30 double poling from Huntly to Portsoy with a few loops added on and 2.30 running along the coast from Portsoy towards Cullen. The weather was great a long the coast and I really enjoyed the session. You can see my gps date from the session here. I din't mange to keep up with James and Callum on the running and ran the last 45min on my own. It was also Duncan's 18th Birthday that day so we had a surprise bbq birthday party for him when we got back from the session. I say surprise but Duncan had found out about it. It was a great evening and Duncan's Mum had made fantastic food including cake!
The only problem was that it meant I had spent about 10 hours of the day outside. I suffer from pretty bad hay fever to the extent that I take antihistamine and nasal spray daily throughout the summer from May until October. Having been running through long grass and sitting outside in the evening I was starting to notice I wasn't feeling so great. I woke the next day coughing and sneezing and feeling tired. Unfortunately I had to take a rest day. It also ment I went over to Aviemore a day late so I missed 2 days of training with the others.
The second long session was a 5 hour run the Cairngorm Mountains. The mountains were a bit cloudy in the morning so we ran a loop of Loch Morlich to let it clear up before heading up into the mountains. We ran up to the Ryvoan Bothy before heading into Strath Nethy and up to Loch Avon. Then we headed up to the top of the Fiacal ridge and ran along the top off Coire an t-Sneachda, up to Ben Macdui, before running round Coire an Lochain back to the Cairngorm car park and down to Glenmore. In total it was 42k and roughly 1300m of climb. We all ran together in the start before the boys ran ahead as we started up Strath Nethy. Strath Nethy was one big bog. Having been a cold and wet summer the ground was saturated with the path sometimes disappearing into knee deep bog. James, who has grown up running in the alps, kept double checking with me that this path was actually a path shown on the map. A gentle reminder that although in the grand scheme of things the Cairngorms are quite small, they still pose a danger and aren't just a straight forward walk int the park. After about 10k we got to the top of Strath Nethy, a remote feeling and a realisation that we really are in the back of beyond. As we headed up to the Cairngorm plateau we met up with the coaching team, stopped, ate something and changed. It was windy on the top so we needed jackets and hats and buffs. Duncan headed down Cairngorm and myself, James and Callum headed for Ben Macdui. The length of the run and the pace was getting to me so I had to let the others run on a head. They waited for me at the top, before we ran down and headed for home. A long, but good day out. You can see the gps date here.

Apart from the long sessions we had the normal intervall sessions and strength work. We had an "easy" day where we headed out rock climbing with instructors from Glenmore lodge. It was meant to be easy, but my arms and calfs were burning by the end of the day and I was just as tired as if I'd been out training all day. It was fun, we learned new things and got to challenge ourselves in a new environment. The best part was that both our physio and performance manager from the institute of sport joined us. It was fun to see them in a different environment and challenging themselves just as much as we were. 

After the camp was over I had 2 days of training at home before I headed to Reading for my Uncles 40th wedding anniversary party. The weather was great and my cousin had organised a bbq. We had a great evening, and it seemed like everybody really enjoyed themselves. The day after we visited my great uncle from the other side of the family and had a look around the neighbourhood where my parents grew up. It was a brief but fun visit. 

And then I found my self in Oslo pushing camper vans out of the mud. My ski club, Bækkelagets Sports Klubb run a football tournament called Norway Cup. It is the biggest football tournament for Juniors, youths and children in the world and is the biggest money earner for the club. Everybody in the club has to help with volunteering, and this year I was helping out in the car park and as security for the evening concerts. After having spent 18 hours in a car park directing cars and selling parking tickets all I can confirm that people are morons. My confidence in humanity has plummeted and if everybody behaves like they do in a car park all the time then we as a race are doomed. I've pretty much given up all hope humanity ever achieving anything worth while again. I have never received so much abuse for anything as I have for trying to sell parking tickets and trying to direct cars into empty parking spots. 

Problem number 1: Ticket price had gone up 100% from 50kr to 100kr. It had been 50kr for 8 years, and if it was 70kr then we would have to work with coins and it would be complicated to sort change and slow going. So it was 100kr. Not my decision. Nothing to do with me, all I do is sell the tickets at the car park entrance. If you refuse to pay I am not going to let you in. Yes I think it is a lot to pay, but no you can't get a ticket for 50kr. Even if you stay 10min it is still 100kr. 

Problem Number 2: Everybody has an idea of where they want to park. So they will ignore instructions on where to park and go up a dead end which is full and then have to reverse out causing a traffic jam and then complain that there is no empty space. Well if they had listened to what I said or looked at where I pointed them they wouldn't bee in that situation. Everybody else caught in the traffic jam complains that there is a traffic jam and it is my fault for having caused the traffic jam because some moron didn't listen to what I said. 

Problem Number 3: All the empty spaces are near the exit but nobody wants to go round towards the exit because they are scared they won't find a space. They don't believe us that there are spaces there, or drive round there go "I can't find a space" despite there being 100 empty spaces and drive round the car park and complain to us that we had sent them to the wrong place. 

Problem Number 4: Everybody tries to sneak into a parking spot that isn't really there and block the one way system. They then get angry with us when we ask them to move. 

Problem Number 5: Mud. It rained a lot. It got extremely muddy and lots of cars got stuck. When we advised people not to drive somewhere because of the mud they wanted to go there anyway and got stuck causing a traffic jam. A numerous occasions I had to push cars out when 2, 3, 4 or even 5 people sat in the car. People refused to get out and help me push because of the mud which they had gotten themselves stuck in even though I'd told them not to drive there. Whilst I got covered in mud pushing them out, they sat in their nice warm, dry cars with leather seats. 

Problem Number 6: 4 wheel drive drivers. SUV drivers who refused to park in muddier places where there were empty spots that 2 wheel drive cars couldn't access. Instead they took up easier to get to spots and 2 wheel drive cars got stuck in the mud. 

Problem 7: camper vans. Who drives a camper van into a small and cramped parking spot? Just about everyone who has one it seems. They all got stuck in the mud. 

Problem 8: Pedestrians. In Norway Pedestrians have right of way over cars just about everywhere. They walk everywhere cause a traffic jam, I get shouted at by drivers who then get out of there car and walk everywhere causing more of traffic jam, meaning I get more people shouting at me. If we try to control the pedestrians and ask them to wait they get angry with us as they have "right of way" over cars. Loose loose situation. 

Problem 9: The Police. All the above problems cause traffic jams which back out onto the main road. Then the police come and start shouting at us to get the car park sorted out. 

Problem 10: To be fair this only happened once, but "there is no space to grill, can I have my money back?". One family turned up, drove around the car park, up and back out of every dead end and arm of the entire car park having driven past several empty spots. They came back to where I was standing, wound down the window and said "there is nowhere to grill(have a bbq), can I get my money back?". I didn't quite understand what they meant at first and it took me a while to get it. Eventually I sent them to talk to the person who sold them the parking ticket. I'd had enough of problems 1 though 9 to deal with. 

Working at the concerts was much easier but that meant I had to listen to an hour of Isac Elliot. The music was terrible and the only people watching where 15 year old girs who had waited there since 2am the night before. Their screams where worse than the music and they even started crying when came on stage! They threw there phones on the stage to try and get him to take a picture with their phones. I even caught some girls throwing condoms, yes condoms at him. The state of todays youth! 

Although I have had to deal with some complete idiots, listen to terrible music, be covered head to toe in mud, stand out the rain for 6 hours at a time and have abuse shouted at me, I have bizarrely really enjoyed the week. I got to work with some fun people and we were working together for the club to do something that will benefit us in the long term. So I'll be back to do it all again next year. 

I'm now back in Lillehammer for a few days before I head to a team Synnfjell training camp. Our camp starts tomorrow with a sprint session in Lillehammer before we head up to Gamlestølen in the Synnfjell region. We'll be up there until Friday next week where hopefully we will be able to do a solid training job in the peace and quite of the mountains. I looked at the weather forecast. It is meant to be as cold as 1 degree next week up at Gamlestølen. A sure sign that winter is coming. It is now only 3 and a half months to the start of the season in mid November so training has to be stepped up a notch as we move into a vital period of preparation for the winter ahead. 

Hopefully it won't be as long before my next update and hopefully I won't be as grumpy with humanity and life in general by then. Until then stay out of car parks and if you absolutely must go to a car park listen to what the parking attendant says and don't be a moron. Also if you drive a campervan, just don't anymore. Scrap it immediately. If I ever have to push another campervan I think I might go on a  rampage and burn every campervan in the world.