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Season of David - Part XV
By:  David Zylberberg   (2003/08/05)


The following is part of a series of weekly articles by the "infamous" David Zylberberg, one of the original members of XC Ottawa. He is the writer of numerous amusing and sometimes controversial articles which have been the subject of much discussion within the Canadian cross-country racing community over the last 8 months. While David does not possess an advanced degree in physiology or sports science, hopefully the articles will be the source of much entertainment while you are putting off work, school, or chores. David's articles will be candid and will not be censored by the editors of XC Ottawa. (At least not usually) Please address your comments and questions directly to David.

Summer is approaching its end. Summer is generally a time for high volume, low intensity training and a lot of it. A lot of improvements can be made with this type of training but it has its limitations. It does not produce enough speed or high-end fitness (lactate systems, V02 Max, power) to be in top racing shape. Thus the months leading into the season focus more on these higher quality training types. Volume is then a little lower in the fall in order to avoid being too tired to do these important workouts effectively. Another reason that summer is dominated by volume is that the high-intensity training (I am referring to ~3 workouts/week) is mentally taxing and requires a lot of fitness. This fitness must be built doing easy-distance training, so the summer helps build a base for the fall and winter while providing some improvements (blood volume, hopefully strength and muscular endurance). This is a basic view into prioritizing a yearly training plan.

I mention this because we are getting into the transition period between these two different periods. Better programs are good at incorporating some intensity into the summer and some easy distance into the fall in order to constantly be working on different systems. They are also good at not having an abrupt change. I have often ended up having fairly abrupt changes between the seasons. A lot of this is because I came to view Labour Day as a distinct divider and moving every year on that weekend did not help for a feeling of continuity. I may still be moving on Labour Day Weekend but I believe I am better able to see all training as a progression towards winter goals and not a challenge to do many hours in August and then as much intensity as possible before November 10.

I also mention this transition period because I am feeling the need to begin it. My body feels a bit worn down from the distance and the pounding of running and rubbing of poling are leaving their marks. It is become hard to find the motivation to do the very similar workouts to the ones that have dominated since the beginning of June. Summer training was progressing very well and showing the desired improvements by mid-July, so I figured I would stay with it, increase it a bit and see more improvements. It seems I should have started changing things as soon as I felt summer had accomplished its goal since the continuation of the same thing is just wearing me down. This is a lesson to learn for others. The last few high volume weeks of summer are always hard because you start to want something, different, faster and exciting. Maybe this feeling is a sign that it is time to change or at least steady the volume and increase the intensity.

I understand that those who have access to summer training (national teams generally) can avoid this stagnation and transitions by doing high-quality dryland training mixed with higher volume on-snow periods. The on-snow periods also provide them with a change.

Part of my need for a change involves going on a 3 day hiking trip for the Civic Holiday Weekend (BC Day for our Western Readers). Me and my brother are going to hike the 100km trail in Killarney Provincial Park. It will still give some aerobic and leg strength benefits while being different and enjoyable. Also, at some points my mind longs for a return to limestone ridges, clear lakes and fish and chips on the wharf. Should be a good weekend.

After that I know enough to listen to my body and begin making the transition towards higher-quality training that cannot tolerate as many hours. Both the long easy distance and the higher intensity training provide benefits, so doing more of the one I need should help make me faster, which is the reason I train.

Stuff should remain interesting around here, with the Beaton Classic coming up in less than a week. This should give an idea of fitness and places to improve upon in the early fall.

I hope you are all still able to benefit from the training you are doing and are ready to train productively towards the season that matters.

Interesting Reading. . .
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