Getting Back in the Swing of things in Ottawa - A look into a skiers early fall training.
By: Matthias Purdon (2008/09/24)
Fall is the time when we do a combination of high volume training as well as an increasing amount of intensity work as intervals. I find the fall to be the ultimate balancing act as a skier; figuring out how to follow your training plan, start school, and see all your friends again without getting sick or burned out is always really hard. Before the weekend started I felt myself getting a little bit worn out, and by Saturday night I had a cold full on; it startled me a bit how quickly I went from being healthy to felling pretty terrible. I took the speed at which I got sick as a sign that I may not have been overtraining, I just caught something that my immune system, which had been more or less dormant all summer, couldn’t handle. It is hard to know, when you get sick, what caused it, or what went wrong but it’s always the same once you have the symptoms, rest, water, vitamins, and more rest.
Getting back to Ottawa, the team, and my coaches was great but it also brought up some anxiety that had been building all summer, I had just returned from a long trip where I was training by myself mostly under my own direction. Was I in good enough shape to roller ski with the likes of Karl Saidla? Was I going to have any endurance, had I forgotten how to roller ski, ski stride with poles over the summer??? These questions where definitely in the back of my mind as I showed up to the first few practices. I distinctly remember John Langstone, the head coach of the Carleton Varsity team, mentioning loudly before my first continuous interval at the first Carleton practice of the fall: “well you’re in great shape aren’t you; you’ve been surfing all summer!” I knew that these kinds of joking comments were merited; I felt like I had worked pretty hard all summer on my skiing fitness, but would this translate into something that would make me competitive in practice and ultimately this winter on skis? As it turned out I trained enough in the end (at least for practices… we will see about the races later), and I have haven’t had too much difficulty keeping up in the intervals, and longer workouts at both the XC Ottawa and Carlton practices. In the end all the anxiety this summer was for nothing, but it was sometimes the only reason I would leave to do a workout before the (nearly) ritualistic post work beers really started flowing at the sailing club, so I know it helped me out a lot too.
Before I became ill I was doing some pretty fun, and long, workouts to build endurance. It felt good to make up for some of the lost distance from my summer in the Caribbean, where continuous training tended to be under two hours or so due to the heat. To build up endurance I have done a variety of workouts; one three hour run/ski stride in the Gatineau park, a three and a half hour road ride at a pace I had no business holding after not riding all summer, a three and a half hour mountain bike ride, as well as some extended XC Ottawa practices on the weekend where we would roller ski for two hours with intervals then do about an hour of ski striding afterwards. Training long hours all at once is a great way to get out and enjoy the fall weather before it gets to nasty, and to build endurance for those longer races in the winter. I have also learned that all the best training stories tend to come out of longer workouts, I guess you’re just out there long enough for something memorable to happen or to achieve some goal you never though you would achieve or maybe both if you are lucky (Colin’s Chilkoot trail run is a good example). I usually do one three hour or longer continuous workout a week, maybe one more if it is a big volume week. As the intensity sessions get longer and more frequent as they always do in the fall, the long workouts will be cut down so get out and do a few more while you can!