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Base Training- Spring/Early Summer Edition
By:  Matthias Purdon   (2012/05/25)

Skiers often talk about “base” training, as short form for “aerobic base”, typically in reference to training done at lower intensity for longer durations, in an effort to build cardiovascular, and muscular endurance. Working from the bottom (below your aerobic threshold around 60% below your max. Heart rate) is analogous to lifting lighter weights with more repetitions to build muscle tone rather than lifting heavier weights to develop power and speed. Base training also plays a vital role in keeping one’s body in “building mode” that is preventing your body from entering a brief performance “peak”. A “peak” is desirable to increase performance for an important competition, but is disruptive to off-season development goals (i.e. steady progression in aerobic capacity, endurance, speed, explosiveness, general and ski specific strength, and technique).

For example, if you do intervals in August after neglecting your base training for a couple of weeks you might notice a fairly significant performance boost, but it will be at the cost of maintaining a steady progress on the aforementioned goals. If you are unlucky you may notice a performance drop in September, which is a hypothetical sad start to the fall training season.

In May my focus has been mainly on non-ski specific base training. Think less long roller skis (although I’ve been out rollerskiing a fair bit), or run/ski walking sessions, and more hikes, road and mountain bike rides, manual labour, and canoe trips, and quick tempo trail runs. Variety is key, but there is more to it than that.

The most important things to remember while doing base training at this time of year are more to do with psychology and approach than hours spent in specific “zone”. It’s really key to keep your mind relaxed and off high-performance skiing at this time of year. Workouts should have goals related to better executing non-ski specific activities (i.e. cornering faster and smoother with your mountain bike, running with “lighter” feet), geographic goals, such as training in new, interesting locations, or goals related to physical and mental wellbeing (i.e. re-energizing your mind, running without pain).

Another key point I should make is that longer base sessions (ones that make you feel tired) at this time of year should be paired up with equal easy training or recovery days. Obviously digging yourself a deep fatigue trench to bury yourself in is never really a good idea, but on a more subtle level, right now is the time that you are making base training habits for the rest of the year. Ask yourself: do you want to do your base training feeling snappy, focused, and recovered all summer? Of course you do! So set a good example now, and recover from longer workouts and come into the next one with a goal in mind, and ready to push your body to do the “acts” of the activity better and more relaxed. These good habits will cross over to ski specific work later in the year, and into the competition season. As the former NDC coach Eric Bailey said, “don’t be a training robot!”, so enjoy building your base and make the hours count, not just in the log book, but to always improve and sharpen your overall approach as an athlete.  

The video is from “Jester” a downhill trail that is part of the Kingdom Trails network around East Burke Vermont. I am not the best downhill rider and I don’t own a downhill bike anymore but I guess the video demonstrates my best effort to ride more like my buddy Logan (who is a pro mountain biker and lives out west- for his day to day life, and a demonstration of how he rides his local trails check out:

Thanks for reading!

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