Writing this is a bit like a celebration for me right now. In most ski programs, you see, there's a pretty clear division into a few different seasons; summer, usually with high training hours, basic strength, and low intensity; fall, with lower hours, specific strength, and high intensity; racing season, with racing, tapers, build-ups, and maintenance; and, of course, April, with nothin' but fun (and exams, for the school-oppressed among us). The celebration is because last week was the last week of high volume, and this week the first of high intensity. Why celebrate exchanging long and easy for short and hard, you ask? There are a few reasons.
First is the sheer volume of training in my program this summer. With the early season World Cup races out West this December, and the availability of more qualifying spots for them through the early season Canada Cups, our fearless leader John Suuronen gave us the option of a program designed to peak for those early season races. With this program, I've had higher summer hours than ever before, and last week was the most hours I've ever trained outside a training camp, 23. The bright side? The hours have made me more careful with recovery and with taking time off when my body needs it for sickness, and right now I feel that I'm in the best general shape of my life.
The second reason I'm happy is simply how enjoyable all the training's been and how well it's gone. The reason I ski is that I love skiing. Sure, racing's fun, racing fast is even better, but what point would there be in committing the amount of time we commit without loving the sport? The nice thing with skiing, too, is the variety available for cross-training. Sure, not every second of rollerskiing in the rain is bags of fun, but when it's mixed with a healthy amount of running, trail-running, road- and mountain-biking, and whatever else happens to be your thing, it's all great. Even the strength has been fun - I can now benchpress my own weight for the first time ever - about a 150% improvement from May. This just adds to the confidence and feeling of fitness from the end of the summer training!
So what happens now? Summer training's done, and it's time to work in lower hours with school, for me. The one thing that's missing in my fitness now is speed and with the high hours gone and intensity in, that shouldn't be a problem! XC Ottawa will be doing (at least) two hard interval workouts a week from now until the races in November, one long set and one shorter set, to bring up speed, VO2, lactate endurance, and efficiency. I'll also be working hard on maintaining my general strength, and making sure it's transferred into power in the ski-specific areas. Finally, lots and lots more technique work with John! The better the technique, the more efficient a skier I'll be.
Overall, I think this summer's training has resulted in me being the most strong, most fit, and most confident in my skiing I've been yet at this point in the season. The plan is to keep that up, and bring it together out West!
Photo Credits: Harry Nowell Photography Inc. - www.HarryNowell.com