XCFeedsBUILDING MOMENTUM

FasterSkier FasterSkierAugust 31, 2009

 

Bryan Cook and Garrott Kuzzy descend the last mile of a 44 mile skate in the Upper Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains

Bryan Cook and Garrott Kuzzy descend the last mile of a 44 mile skate in the Upper Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains

AUGUST CAMP

August 24, 2009

August starts the downward push towards the ski season.  Training increases and specificity transitions from an emphasis on general training to primarily ski specific training.

We had a particularly good camp in Ironwood with effective training, comfortable lodging (thanks Bob and Debbie – Wolverine Village) and well prepared meals (thanks Bill Pierce, Bob and Debbie).  None the less, the most important aspect, in my opinion, was the attitude and focus during training sessions.  The focus was there but so too was the joking afterwards.  The athletes demeanor displayed both urgency in their training at hand, but also indicated they are remaining mentally fresh and loose.  August is a taxing month of training and can be mentally challenging, but it was good to see the physical progress and positive attitude of the team.

It is critical to build up momentum and carry that into fall instead of perceiving August as an uphill trek to maintain motivation and focus.  Many multi-sport skiers are scaling down their summer race season and starting to dust off their rollerskis.  The athletes on CXC Team Vertical Limit have logged many miles on their rollerskis and any anxious novelty of putting away the winter boards to trade them in for wheeled ones has long past. 

CXC Jr Program & CXC Team Vertical Limit athletes head out for a scenic distance classic ski

CXC Jr Program & CXC Team Vertical Limit athletes head out for a scenic distance classic ski

Men ski up a steep grade during skate intervals

Men ski up a steep grade during skate intervals

Training year round is a unique balance and those that excel enjoy the process.  The process of training in itself needs to give back and fuel the motivation of the upcoming days, weeks and upcoming months.  Striking this balance is critical during this time of the year when ski training can wane in the mind.

 

Igor strikes a balance between fun and fitness atop the Presque Isle River

Igor strikes a balance between fun and fitness atop the Presque Isle River

A scenic overlook of one of the waterfalls on the Black River during a distance run.

A scenic overlook of one of the waterfalls on the Black River during a distance run.

Remaining focused in training needs to be balanced with simply getting in physical fitness.  This balance is analogous to the difference between urgency and patience.  The goal is to remain focused and purposeful in training, but not so focused that training becomes tense – both physically and mentally. 

The dynamic balance between these rivaling mindsets often shifts throughout the year.  Race season brings a high level of focus and urgency and it is during this time that we need to emphasize patience – step back, take a breath and then hit the start line relaxed but ready.

The contrary is true during this time of the year.  Dryland training can become old-hat.  Many miles have been logged and the novelty of dryland training has worn off.  This time of the year requires more attention on focus and urgency, for it is during the summer months that provide us the greatest opportunity to address our weaknesses and make our greatest gains.  This requires not only hours and repetition, but the focus to execute and correct weaknesses.    Find training methods to fuel your motivation, for example select training venues with great scenery.  End your work on a beach, so you can look forward to a cool dip after a hot summer training session.  In short, be creative, so training is something you look forward to.

Jessie Diggins ski walks up Powderhorn Mountain

Jessie Diggins ski walks up Powderhorn Mountain

Bryan Cook completes a classic sprint interval

Bryan Cook completes a classic sprint interval

The mind controls the body and a lethargic brain while training results in – well – lethargic training.  I would like confess that elite athletes and coaches are immune to mental second guessing, but four hour runs or rollerskis can challenge even the most mentally tough.  Training to put in hours is simply not enough.  Those hours have to be quality hours too.  Sure, some hours need to be more quality than others, but every time the skis are snapped into the binding is an opportunity to improve. 

It’s safe to assume eighty percent of the athletes’ total training is distance training this time of the year.  Approximately sixty percent of that distance training is ski specific or rollerskiing for the most part.  Stride length and stride frequency are individual, but a good ball-park estimation is forty ski strokes per minute while skiing at an easy pace.  That means there are at least 9,500 strokes that an athlete has an opportunity to engrain efficient technique or not.  It is critical to maintain focus on items other that 9,500 repetitions so monotony doesn’t creep in.  The goal of keeping training mentally and physically fresh is the responsibility of both the athlete and coach.  A training plan should include variety and progressive overload, so training stimulus changes.  An athlete and coach also need to identify if the athlete has the patience, persistence and physical acuity to efficiently maintain 9,500 quality ski strokes.  Most can not.  Therefore other less specific modes of training may be selected or maybe a combination ski then run workout is appropriate.

Kelly and Maria sprinting up the last hill in a sprint interval session

Kelly and Maria sprinting up the last hill in a sprint interval session

 Find methods to keep the spark ignited in your training.  Work on one or two technical aspects while distance skiing.  Play around with force output, stride frequency, body position, V2 up the hill, focus on the transitions or work on downhills.  Try to master a drill that you have not fully mastered.  In short, challenge yourself while logging all those hours.  To improve skill requires additional concentration.  New skills require a focus on only one or two elements or else the body and mind are overloaded.  Work on one or two items for a short duration and then simply enjoy the opportunity to be outdoors skiing for a while.  Go ahead and return to that drill you were momentarily working on after the brain and body have had a little recovery.  A continuous distance workout can then become segmented into many different pieces and hence variety is built into the continuous training session. 

Audrey toughs it out doing skate intervals up a 15% grade with one pole.  Rehabilitation can be looked at as a time to sit back and rest or an opportunity to focus more attention in other important areas.)

Audrey toughs it out doing skate intervals up a 15% grade with one pole. Rehabilitation can be looked at as a time to sit back and rest or an opportunity to focus more attention in other important areas.)

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