“A Physical and Mental Shift”: An Interview with Andy Newell

Matthew VoisinMay 18, 2010
Andy Newell (USA) on his way to finishing 10th in the Canmore World Cup.

FasterSkier talks with American cross country sprint star and self-proclaimed red neck Andy Newell for an update on his summer activities, spring time training philosophy, and changing goals for the 2010-2011 World Cup season.

What are your travel plans like for the summer? When and where are you all getting together for camps and the like?

My travel plan for this summer will be pretty similar to last year. I will be spending time in both Park City and Vermont while trying to hit all the USST training camps along the way. We’re going to start things off at the end of this month in Bend, then New Zealand in August, as well as intensity camps in Lake Placid during the fall.

How will you be splitting time between Park City and Vermont?

I basically split my time between Park City and home in Vermont, but this year it’s looking like even more Park City time for two reasons. My girlfriend Jess lives there and I’m trying to spend more time with her this summer, and in addition to that [Chris] Grover and I are going to continue to play around with altitude training blocks. [Altitude training blocks are] basically spending a certain amount of training time at high altitude before heading back to sea level for a few weeks. After next season we are going to have a lot of big championships, including the 2014 Games, at altitude so we’re trying to learn as much as we can now so that I can be as prepared as possible.

I really enjoy training in Park City because the facilities and support staff out there are incredible and there are a ton of XC skiers and NC [nordic combined] guys around to work out with. But at the same time I wish I could be in Vermont more, it’s a tough situation to be in. I still train with Sverre and the SMS crew when I can and they all meet up at least three days a week during the summer in Vermont.  I come to as many of those workouts as I can because it’s fun for me and I think it’s really good for the club that we are all together, but I can’t be in two places at once. So again this summer and fall will be a balance of time in Vermont and Park City.

How has your health been this spring?  Do you think your body is ready to start getting after it again?

It seems like every spring I get really sick at some point. This year it wasn’t too bad but I did get a nasty sinus infection while I was skiing in Park City after the races in Fort Kent. Luckily I was able to shake it before our surf tip to Costa Rica because it seems like I’m always sick down there, and nothing is worse than being in the heat of the equator and feeling like crap. However, since then I have been feeling pretty good.

I had a really solid break this year. It wasn’t a long break from training but I was able to disconnect from skiing for a long time, and not even think about training or XC skiing. Basically for the past month I’ve barely even been checking my email so I don’t really know what’s going on in the world… or even the ski community, but sometimes that’s what you need to do.

Coming off an Olympic year do you find it difficult to get as inspired as you were last year at this time?  What motivation do you use right now to get out the door and work at the level required to reach your goals?

I think it can be hard to find the motivation to get out and train during the spring after an Olympic year, but I have been pretty fired up to get going. I think a lot of the motivation comes from the feeling of starting a new chapter in my skiing. I feel like 2010 marks the end of my career as a sprint specialist and the beginning of being an all around World Cup skier. I made a lot of progress last year in distance skiing but I know I have a long way to go, so that pushes me a lot. It does feel different not to be 100 percent focused on sprinting and to have a physical and mental shift like that, so for me this is an exciting time

What is your basic theory on training in May?  What are you looking to accomplish?

May is all about getting back into shape but also not taking it too seriously. As of the first of the month I’m on a daily training plan from Grover, but there is still a little bit of freedom to do what you want each day. For instance, if it’s dumping rain and I have to roller ski that day I’ll just go running instead, or if it’s beautiful outside I’ll head out for a long bike ride or something. Fair weather training I guess. For the majority of the year I train on a very rigid schedule and stick to it religiously, but in May I try to mix it up a little. I’m still doing a bit of ski specific intensity and get out for intervals twice a week sometimes. All I’m really trying to accomplish is to get my body ready to really hit it hard once June and July come around.

What are you doing for endurance and intensity training this time of year?

A lot of base training. So just heading out for some easy distance most days, but also getting in some intensity a few times a week. I did some level 4 roller skiing intervals this morning so even this early in the spring I’ll try to keep up with some specific intensity. I’ve been trying to get in a lot of running… I’m an awful runner so that’s something I’m always trying to work on. I think the most important thing this time of year is getting in the easy distance training and keeping a lid on the intensity. We’ve got all summer to really hammer out the intervals so during May I try to keep it under control and stay in the bottom of my lactate zones.

What are you doing for strength at this point? Are you focusing on weight room specific, splitting firewood, or is it all about your cabin?  What is your overall strength goal while doing these workouts?

I’ve been hitting the weight room every three days this time of year but also trying to keep it pretty basic. I’m still working with the USST strength coach Alex Moore this year and he’s really good about mixing things up and keeping it fun the weight room. But again, May is all about just getting ready to hit it really hard in June, so I’ll be working on a lot of general strength like pull ups, dips, squats,  and bench so that I can build a base before starting the hypertrophy, max, and power phases of strength later on in the summer.  I’ve really been red necking it up the past three weeks too, so that’s been awesome strength training. I can finally call myself a real Vermonter because this past winter I purchased about 7 acres of land in Weston Vermont and my buddies and I have been working up there a lot. There was an old deer camp on the property that I’ve been rebuilding parts of and restoring into more of a cabin. So yeah, I think hauling boards, pounding nails and hanging out in the woods is great strength training this time of year…. As long as I’m not hitting the Budweiser too much.

If you had to pick your favorite workout to do during the month of May what would it be and why?

Hmmm… that s a tough one. I don’t think I’m a very good biker, even though I get out on the road bike a little bit this time of year, but going for a big group ride is fun. SMS has been doing a lot of road bike racing lately with the other private schools so those guys are biking a lot this time of year.  If I can head out with all of them for a long workout it’s great. The roads in Vermont are awesome for biking. For the most part those guys are better bikers than I am but it’s good to hang with them for a couple hours.

With the new club support format the USST team has moved to for the major domestic races you will be listed as racing for SMS.  You don’t race that often domestically, but when you do will Stratton be supporting you or will you be taking care of a lot of your tech needs?  If SMS will be teching for you what will you do if they are not at a given race?  Have you talked with Sverre about this?

I’ve always raced having Stratton as my club and I probably always will, but it is tough since I don’t spend too much time in the US. Looking ahead to next season the only races I’ll do in the US will probably be at the end of the year just like this past season.  But if that’s the case I’ll just jump on in with SMS and compete with them. I think it’s great, anything to bring national team skiers closer together with their clubs is a step in the right direction.  As far as I know Sverre still has the kids waxing their own skis before the races so I guess I’ll be teching my own boards with everyone else…. I think it will be fun.

Thanks Andy, we look forward to checking in with you again soon.

Kieran Jones contributed reporting.

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