.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

Training Log: Grand Cayman Style
By:  Matthias Purdon   (2008/06/30)


Hi, my name is Matthias and I am a new member of the XC Ottawa team for the 2008-09 season. This training journal is my first posting for the XCOttawa website so I guess I will sum up what kind of training I have been up to since I moved to Grand Cayman for the summer. Hopefully I will be able to give some insight into the life of a skier and new XC Ottawa member in a foreign country.

As I write this I am sitting in my apartment in Grand Cayman Island, southwest of Cuba. The island is beautiful, hot, and full of good things to do. I have also become good friends with my fellow instructors who are also my housemates. I am here as a sailing instructor and I am looking forward to our first teaching session which starts tomorrow.

The island is not really the first place you would think of for ski training; there are no hills and an average day time temperature in the summer that is well over thirty degrees. Night time low temperatures are only a few degrees cooler at twenty seven or twenty eight degrees. Basically, it is almost always a sweaty hot but with some timing and preparation you can still train hard here.

The ocean moderates the temperature a bit, and usually has the strongest winds next to it so my runs tend to follow the coastline. The two best times I have discovered for training are early in the morning (the nicest time to be out on the island), and between four thirty and sundown, which is around six thirty. Another advantage to running right on the coast is that swimming, (to cool off as part of training) is always possible. So far I have done three legitimate workouts on the Island. Smith’s Cove, a public beach, (pictured below) is a thirty minute run from my house on South Sound. I like to create a kind of “standard” workout wherever I am; varying times and intensities to fit my training program. Here I have designed a run-swim-run where I run to Smith’s (zone 1); swim for about half and hour (alternating between front crawl (zone 2) and breast stroke (zone 1). Swimming here is really nice; the water is warm, clear and full of coral outcrops, fish, and the occasional sting-ray. On the way back home I usually do any intensity workouts that I have planned because there is usually a head wind which makes things a little cooler and the road has some small rises in it. I have done one 10 min Zone 3 session, a set of six short sprints, and today I did my first time-trial @ zone 3-4 from Smith’s Cove to home. With a set course established and a first time set at 23min 15 seconds I am ready to monitor my progress every two weeks or so. I think I can do it under 20 minutes by the end of the trip so we will see how that goes. After the time trial I was definitely overheated but thankfully my house has a pool to cool off in and as always in hot weather I drank way more water and ate more salt than usual- before, after, and during my workout to ward off heat exhaustion and dehydration.

There are no hills here for natural intervals so it is important to keep the pace fairly high at all times while perfecting your stride to prevent injury. Some of my hours for strength sessions and balance work are spent on a windsurfer which is really a lot more fun than going to the gym or standing on a wobble board. There are many good surfing spots here as well so I will probably try to learn to surf while I am here; however as my new coach John Suuronen dryly informed us at training camp this year “you have to train hard to ski fast” so tomorrow I will be getting a gym membership to do some more serious ski specific strength work.

This spring has certainly been busy; I moved home after school and tree planted for the conservation authority for May then moved into my new apartment in Ottawa with Alana and Zoe for two weeks in June before coming home for a few days prior to going to Grand Cayman. My time spent in Ottawa training with the team was a lot of fun and I was a little sad to leave behind such good friends and training partners. I was really happy to have had the opportunity to get familiar with the team, get some good training in, and to top it all off go to the Owl rafting training camp; definitely a highlight of the summer. I will leave you with a picture I took this morning at Smith’s Cove before the time trial back home… this workout skipped the swim which makes the photo pretty hilarious if you look carefully. Cheers from Cayman!

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