For almost as long as Nick Lovett has been skiing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), he has been thinking about how people train in other parts of the world.
This summer, the Wyoming native went on a trip to find out, visiting teammate Jan Čech at his home in the Czech Republic.
“I have been roommates with Jan for two years, and have been considering training with him in Czech for just as long,” Lovett wrote in an email. “I thought it would be a good experience to go somewhere new and see how training works somewhere else. I would say my decision was half for the training aspect, and half for the travel opportunity. I also traveled to Norway, Germany, and Scotland while away this summer.”
That also included visiting teammate Ann-Cathrin Uhl in Germany, and UAF teammate Seiji Takagi joined part of the trip as well.
So what did he find? Both Lovett and Čech, both 23 and seniors at UAF, answered some questions over email about summer training in the Czech Republic. The interviews have been edited and condensed.
FasterSkier: Jan, where are you based this summer, what part of the Czech Republic? Is this the same area you grew up in, or is your training base away from your family home?
Jan Čech: My base camp is in Jilemnice, the northeast part of Czech Republic, close to Giant Mountains. I was born here and I went here for sport elementary school, and high school focused on sport education. Now I train with my brother’s group — he is coach at the high school above, as well as a coach of the Czech junior national team for cross country skiing.
FS: What is that part of the Czech Republic like? How is the landscape, what do people do there?
JC: Because are where I live is right under mountains, the landscape is rolling with numerous of tree-covered hills. It’s perfect for running and biking. People here are big fans of any sport and most of them spend weekends in the mountain, hiking, climbing, or biking in the countryside.
FS: Do you have a team that you are training with, or are most of your training sessions alone? How well do you know the other athletes and are they at a similar level to you?
JC: Most of the time I train with my brother’s junior group. The guys are fast — some of them attended World Junior Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah, last season. So they are good training partners. Also sometimes I drive to the rollerski track an hour away from town, and there I can train with men from the national B-team who are my friends. I competed against them before I came to Fairbanks.
FS: Nick, did you spend some time training with this group, and how easy was it to join them?
Nick Lovett: It was as easy as possible for me to integrate, but there were some challenges. Aside from Jan, there were very few other skiers or coaches who spoke fluent English. This was the most challenging part as we tried to communicate some complex technique ideas with less than ideal words to use. While the language barrier was a challenge, I still feel I was able to learn and accomplish enough to fit in well.
FS: How do you design your training? Is it based on a plan from Nick Crawford at UAF? Are you adapting it at all to be able to match with other people/groups you might have opportunities to join?
JC: I train with the team in my hometown so I can have training partners, especially during interval sessions so I can push myself harder. Then I try match the intensity and volume hours from Nick’s plan. I also keep doing the UAF strength system whole summer as well.
FS: What are some of the differences between Czech training and American training?
NL: I would say there were some differences, but overall it was very similar to what I expected and what I have experienced here. The most notable difference was the emphasis that was put on general athleticism. While in the U.S. most workouts are all ski-oriented, some workouts there incorporated elements of gymnastics and track running.
FS: What’s the hardest workout you have done so far this summer?
JC: My hardest workout this summer so far was uphill run time trial, which I do every year since I was 13. So that’s the best way how to test my fitness level for me.
FS: Are there any absolute favorite places to run or bike or rollerski?
JC: I believe my area is a great place to train. We have lots of opportunities to go mountain biking or road biking for up to four hours, which are amazing workouts and we bike as a group of 15 people. Also we have many country roads with new asphalt, which connect a hilly rolling loop of about 50 kilometers. That is great for classic OD’s [over-distance].
NL: Jilemince was a beautiful place to train. There were ample trails to run on, and some very quiet roads where one could ski for 2.5+ hours and never repeat the same asphalt. There is also a rollerski track and biathlon stadium currently under construction in Jilemince which will be an incredible addition to the town as a training venue.
FS: What is the best part of Czech summer, aside from training?
JC: The best part of summer in Czech are my evening walks with my sister to the old town square, which has buildings over 700 years old and great chocolate factory near by.
FS: Nick, where was your favorite place you visited?
NL: My favorite place we went was the city of Prague. It is an incredibly beautiful old city, and I just loved being there. Also we did some long runs in the mountains on the Czech-Poland border. I am from Jackson, Wyoming, so I loved being in the mountains and it made me feel closer to home there.
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.