May 1. Start of a new training cycle for some.
In this Wednesday Workout, we checked in with Jessica Yeaton. Yeaton resides in Anchorage, Alaska where she trains with APU and has represented Australia on the World Cup, World Championships, and the Olympics.
She earned two U.S. National Championship podiums in Craftsbury, Vermont last season. She placed second in the 10-kilometer classic and third in the 20 k mass start freestyle. A sixth place in the National Championship skate sprint rounded out her week in the Northeast Kingdom. At the Seefeld, Austria World Championships she skied to 31st in the 30 k mass start skate. Those were a few of her race highlights. The results, however, came after a summer and fall training season fraught with an overuse injury. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)
Yeaton’s training experience last year saw her rely less on what many would consider the staples of ski specific training: bounding, roller skiing, and running (after addressing her overuse injury). Yeaton learned to be flexible in her training regimen. So we wanted to know how she plans to reflect on her past season’s training.
“I will look at in a more general sense than in a number sense,” Yeaton said in a call on April 30. “I will go back and look through my log, and note it looks like I was doing a lot of running here and I look at the comments and see how I was feeling. I will not get too analytical about it. But, it was such a bad overuse injury, it impacted my training enough that I think I can get value out of going back and looking and trying to analyze the numbers a little better.”
Yeaton won the famed Mt. Marathon mountain running race this past July 4. As a lover of mountain runs she had relied in the past on big days running in the hills as part of her ski training. With all the hours of pounding, she injured a hamstring.
“I think it is important to look into how much of every activity you are doing,” Yeaton said. “I think one thing for me last year if I had broken down and looked specifically at that period say between May and August, my running was so high. I probably was doing way too much relatively in terms of what you might expect a typical runner to do progression wise compared to the rest of my training.”
Yeaton’s results did not suffer as she incorporated more biking and non-traditional training into her routine. This season, she said she will place restrictions on her running as the injury still nags.
“Coming into U.S. National I was not expecting my results at all,” said Yeaton. “But also, it taught me just so much: that a lot of our sport is reliant on fitness. I did know going into the season that I had done less, especially in the fall. I had done less ski specific training that I wanted. I wasn’t, for a while, I wasn’t able to roller ski. I was literally just biking, doing workouts like on the treadmill at the gym, or just stuff that I did not want to be doing. Not doing any bounding intervals and things like that. And it just stressed me out because I was like ‘I am not training for skiing right now’. Maybe I am in good shape, but it is not as ski specific like I wanted. That is what I learned. That maybe if you keep your fitness really high, maybe you don’t need to be specific all the time. I think you need to be to a certain degree, but I was also able to have a really good season without doing exactly what I would have probably done had I been one hundred percent healthy and uninjured.”
Below is less of a workout Yeaton prescribes, and more of the holistic approach she took to training as she navigated an injury yet still maintained her ski specific goals for the winter. Maybe before you head out and log the hours it is time to review what worked and didn’t last season and ponder how to change it up.
Although this past season has been standout in terms of results for me, it has also been the most difficult with regards to injury. I developed an overuse injury in my hamstring in August last year after a summer full of tons of mountain running training/racing, which plagued me throughout the entire fall and winter. Because of this injury, I went from running every single day to not at all; I was also unable to skate or stride on roller skis for a good chunk of time. I was pretty desperate to maintain my fitness without hurting myself further, and the best way I found to do this was on my mountain bike. I discovered that the natural flow of mountain bike trails mimics nordic skiing super well; I could do quality intervals by powering over punchy climbs, pushing through the flats, and carrying my speed over technical downhills. I also found that standing up out of the saddle as much as possible worked muscles that translate really well to skating. I honestly think that my training on the bike last fall really improved my fitness, leg strength, and even my agility on skis this winter. Looking back on my training, I wish I had made this realization years sooner. As someone who struggles a lot with injury while trying to train big hours, I now know that I need to do as much cross-training and variety as possible. In retrospect, I actually think my injury was a blessing in disguise, as some of the “alternate” training I did while injured was the highest quality. I think as skiers we are often afraid to go outside the norm (i.e. roller skiing, running, bounding intervals), but I truly believe there are other ways to train well for skiing. Going into this summer, I plan to switch things up a lot more not only so I decrease my risk of injury, but also because I think cross-training provides a different, high-quality stimulus. I definitely plan to do more mountain bike intervals throughout the summer, and I also won’t be afraid to trade running for swimming or the rowing machine to give my legs a break. Not only do I think this will help me ski faster next year, but I also am excited about the ability to do more activities throughout the summer- without fear that it’s not “quality” training!