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The Spring of the Pig
By:  Justin Demers   (2009/06/08)

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I am sitting at the computer finding it very difficult to be positive. What for you may ask? And the reason is quite simple. It's been a cool spring and as it becomes nicer I get stuck with what is most probably pig flu.

Letís start with the drama now. I havenít actually bothered to go wait 12 hours in a Quebec emergency room to be told the obvious. It may not be declaimed in broad daylight that swine flu, or more euphemistically H1N1 type A influenza, is about to, or has been declared a full blown pandemic but we have to face some facts. Itís June, itís finally nice and warm and the current state of health of the population resembles January.

As a presumed first row victim of this pig illness it really isnít that big of a deal. Sure it a reasonably solid flu bug that makes you feel as terrible as any other but, emphasis, itís June. Iíve been a week without training, but so far I can be very philosophical about it as racing season is months away. I please myself to believe, possibly naively, that I will emerge stronger and that when this evil virus demonized by the press as a threat to human civilization comes back to strike with its full might in late Fall I will stand as a godlike medieval knight facing legions of weakened men. My battlefield being the race course and the legions my once fiercest competitors, as we do live in an age of perfect Utopia (to be taken strictly literally, I donít do ironyÖ)

I am telling you right now without a hint of conceit that when February comes around I might get away with a few gold medals at the Olympic Games. I wonít bore you any longer with the hidden benefits of having more in common with pigs than the average person not infected by this common virus, because after all itís my secret plan for next season. I couldnít find a way to relate positively to the part bird nature of this virus. Flying, laying eggs and eating worms just didnít seem to fit in with any of my world domination plans at this moment, but Iíll keep everyone up to date should I think of something.

On a more serious note, I have made a personal discovery this spring. Hang around any experienced athlete, more so elite athlete and most of all any outdoor elite athlete and they will agree on the multifaceted nature of becoming Citius, Altius et Fortius. On the one hand we are affected by health, mood, motivation and weather for any particular training session. Pretty soon you start to rate the weather and how it complements your training. Eventually days where it rained all day but stayed dry for an hour and a half run in cool summer conditions become nice days. Fast forward a couple of years of training and you become conditioned to associate activities with the time of year and weather.

For some time now I have tried to limit my skate skiing to temperatures warmer than -18įC and my classic skiing to colder than -4įC. In the past two years I have even taken it to the next level by classic skiing as much as possible around 0įC if I have time to wax properly (it usually means at least 2 pairs of skis, often with different waxes on each ski). This enhances your Cross-Country Quotientģ (CCQģ) as you learn how different skis and wax work in different conditions.

This also applies in the summer. Rainy days are best kept for running because of the minimal upkeep of shoes and clothes and the fact that it is easier to stay warm in the woods than when cycling. In tropical weather conditions, cycling and rollerskiing (preferably without a shirt if over 30įC) have the added benefit of always maintaining a constant airflow. For those who love to show their dedication those days are optimal for solar training. With just enough sunscreen to prevent burning, cycling tan lines are etched into the skin. There is no case to be made for the appeal of a heart rate monitor line in the back of a rollerskier. One must then be diligent in shifting it around or come to the realization that it is very unlikely to go faster than zone 1 on a long slow distance rollerski in that weather and just leave it at home.

The fall brings along its characteristic freshness and smell. Thatís the cue for more intervals, shorter sessions and wet rollerski boots. Find a leafy cycle path with decent hills to climb and whenever itís damp go classic rollerskiing. It helps get the slippery feel of the snow back. When the temperature drops below 15įC and it is raining skip the feel of misery and leave the bike home. I confess to being a fair weather cyclist. Half of the reason comes from the fact that I despise trying to stay warm when wet with no body fat and the other from my strong preference in clean equipment, minus the cleaning.

Well before this spring I had realized all of this and yet I had not noticed that I did the same with spring. Most years, the ski Nationals pass and then we ski the rest of the spring. Normally there is a rapid rise in temperature that puts an end to short and t-shirt skiing and welcomes the other sports after a short break. This year was different. Somewhat paradoxically in this era of global warming, June has come with hardly any really hot days and few summer days. If it wasnít for commuting to work I am sure I would have completely missed the start of the training season. Iím just not programmed to bundle up to train in late May.

You are probably left wondering what kind of athlete diary this is. It may be seemingly pointless although I would hope itís entertaining. In the end my message is that without a fair amount of commuting, this spring would have been a standstill start to the season. I had to elaborate a little to make it an actual article because I doubt one-liners make for an appropriate substitute on this website. When I write these opinions, I typically have no clue where to start. Somewhere along the tangents, I take the real meaning of what I say and do day-to-day reveals itself. So hereís the exposed punch of the article if I may say so. In your day-to-day dealings and your lifelong pursuits, strive to make what you genuinely need what you want and what you want, well, fun.
 
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