XCFeedsMethow Olympic Development 2009-11-30 16:17:00

Avatar scott johnstonNovember 30, 2009

A Perfect Storm of Stressbr /br /Life often does not deal us the hand we expect. This was made abundantly clear to me over the past 2 weeks of training and racing with the MOD Squad. br /br /During the past 6 months of training daily with these three talented athletes I have gotten to where I can sense their energy, mood, state of rest and fitness just by watching how they move, act and look. What I have seen over the past months of intensive training is a continual building of strength, speed and fitness that has reinforced my ideas on how we train. By carefully monitoring the quality of the individual workouts and the recovery from them we have been able to walk the razor’s edge in preparing them to be their best. br /br /Training for a speed/endurance sport like XC skiing at the highest levels demands that the athletes continually evaluate how much more work they can handle without over taxing themselves to the point where they can not recover in a day or so to do the next demanding workout. This ability to adapt to the carefully applied stress is known as the training effect and it is what allows for remarkable advances in fitness from week to week and month to month. Failure to allow for the training to be absorbed by the body will result in a state of profound fatigue. This condition is known medically as the over training syndrome (OTS). Despite its prevalence in elite endurance athletes, its complexity defies easy explanation.br /br /The hormonal responses to stress do not differentiate between physical or psychological causes. During very demanding training periods the rest needed by athletes is primarily needed to counter the stress reaction of the body to the training load. If there is too much stress, from whatever the cause, the body will fail to adapt to it and decline into a state of fatigue that goes well beyond the normal sensations of tiredness that athletes learn to live with during training.br /br /We have been very successfully at delicately balancing the stress/recovery cycles with all three of the MODers this season as they made significant increases in their training loads and reached new heights of fitness.br /br /As November opened we embarked on what was planned as our last major hard training block of the preseason when we held an 8 day training camp on snow at Silver Star. While it imposed a very high (perhaps their highest of the season) training load on the skiers, it was with in their limits IF everything went as planned.br /br /As the Scottish poet Robert Burns famously noted: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” As we concluded our training camp our much loved and respected dear friend, mentor and teacher, Sean McCabe finally lost his battle with cancer. While it was not unexpected, this was still an immense blow for all of us.br /br /As the coach it falls to me to adjust the training load according to how the individual is adapting to it. During the next week to ten days I failed to take into full consideration the effects of the stress of Sean’s death coupled with this very intense period of training. All summer and fall I have continued to be amazed at how well they have been absorbing their training. As a consequence I have had to redefine the limits of just where the razor’s edge was. My guard was down during this time and when another young friend and classmate of Sadie and Erik died the following week we were dealt another blow.br /br /Leading into a big race series like we headed into at West Yellowstone last week there is naturally a large amount of performance anxiety. And this year with all the build up and all the fabulous training they have been doing, expectations were especially high. Piling this on top of the two deaths on top of the training load meant a distinct lack of adaptation during this critical period by all three skiers. Once an athlete realizes that he is in a slump or flat, the stress increases with his anxiety, creating a downward spiral.br /br /Recognizing the signs and symptoms of OTS often eludes many coaches and athletes. I pride myself on my sensitivity to over training. I pound into the athletes I coach the need for a very conservative approach to resting and adaptation to allow the training to soak into the body before adding more stress. I was blind sided by the multiple factors coming into play simultaneously that week and could not see the train wreck before it was upon us. Once I did come to grips with the reality of the situation I pulled the plug and we only raced two of the races at West Yellowstone. I have put all three skiers on enforced rest till they are ready to train again.br /br /Having spent uncountable hours watching them train I know very well what they look like when performing their hard workouts. I can see their long powerful strides, their quick explosive bounding or rocketing double poling. I saw none of this in these races. They were not themselves. Sluggish and flat are the words coming to mind.br /br /The only cure for OTS is rest. Since their bout of over training was relatively short and mild, I expect that they will bounce back quickly. It is just a shame that all these things conspired to occur at just the wrong time to give us the results we have worked so hard for in the first races.br /br /On an individual basis we will get back to training and the racing only as is appropriate for each skier.div class=”blogger-post-footer”img width=’1′ height=’1′ src=’https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/2910103639238326543-5419629342564528339?l=methowolympicdevelopment.blogspot.com’ alt=” //div

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