Getting Faster, Do It If You Can

FasterSkierOctober 20, 2011

It’s a busy time of year here at school — tonight is the premier of the school play, “Cats,” that stars three of our nordies: Devlin, Kaitlin, and Ryley.  I’ve been busying myself helping with odd jobs around the stage and music pit, and Evan and Hans took a trip down south to visit college and check up on alum, Elena Luethi!

On the training side — our training is literally speeding up — almost every session has some component of agility and speed and we are averaging two to three “quality” sessions a week.  Yesterday was an easy session ski walking up Mad River Glen with poles.  MK, Heidi, and I followed the work road at a steady cadence, focusing on using the upper body and stepping off a flat foot.  Journeys up Mad River at this time of year are important to local skiers — a right of passage for a good winter — something along the lines of appeasing the snow gods.

The chill of winter hasn’t reached the top of the Green Mountain Ridge yet, and last year we had already skied a few days by now … but as we reached the ridge the only precip was liquid.  After a quick switch into a dry bottom layer in the Stark’s Nest Lodge we entered into what seemed like an already cooled environ with a strong northerly wind.  Feeling inspired and searching for soft ground to descend upon, we took a detour on the way down to explore the “20th Hole,” a not-so-secret out-of-bounds trail on the skiers right side of the mountain.

Rafter found a little hole of his own.

Running on soft ground like the mossy ski runs of Mad River is a great way to reduce impact on joints and very good for agility.  It is important for athletes to have multi-directional and stabilizing exercise to compliment the more common forms of in-line training we conduct on a daily basis.  Not to mention it always makes you feel a bit more rugged when you’re soaked and muddy–just make sure you have some dry layers to chance into immediately post workout!!

Today we started the workout by watching video of perhaps the most rugged cross-country skier to ever live — Vegard Ulvang.  We watched him bound in the Norwegian Tundra, making strong and dynamic motions, and seemingly float up the hills.  There was also a clip of Pal Gunnar Mikkelsplass, which noted that good bounding is just like good skiing, where the center of your body’s mass stays above your feet.  We took to the woods with all this in mind.
After a twenty minute warm-up, I met the girls and we did some contrasting technique work — trying first to take large powerful bounds (a little more “old school”) and then more upright (think Axel Teichmann) bounds where you might get the feeling of “floating’ up the hill.  The flavor of the workout was natural intensity, or fartleks, involving four short pitches on an approximately one kilometer loop.  I set up cones to denote the zones where the girls would bound at full effort, which were interspersed by sections where they would jog and recover before getting to the next set of cones.  The idea being to allow for super fast efforts while maintaining a sense of overall composure because of the recovery zones.  Today the goal was 30 minutes of continuous effort.
On a bigger scale this workout is a part of increased intensity and on-foot training this fall.  We are in the fourth week of a cycle of coming back from altitude in Italy — next week (week five out) we are trying to feel really good.  This is a test run of our next altitude block, where we are in West Yellowstone five weeks before US Nationals and Junior Trials.  It takes some getting used to to train at altitude and time to “feel” good after a solid session up high.
Today Heidi and MK were attacking the hills with an intensity I haven’t seen from them yet this year.  It seems like good timing for a testing week and we’re looking forward to getting the whole gang back together and knocking it out of the park.  Who knows maybe that hard work will pay off and we’ll see some snow!!


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