Shower daily! Hopefully we all know this simple rule, but how do racers keep feeling fresh for a whole season of dryland training? Obviously training in proper zones, checking morning heart rates, listening to your body, eating and sleeping properly are all important for keeping healthy and strong but what happens when despite following all of the above measures something about the daily training or racing routine feels flat or off?
There are many options for keeping fresh during the dryland training part of the year. One of my favorites is leaving town and embarking on an exercise-type vacation. Examples of this are canoeing, hiking, cycling, fishing, hunting and the like. Exercise vacations are great because new vistas and valleys are discovered, training hours are kept up or increased but at refreshingly low speeds (hopefully), little nagging injuries can be left to heal while other muscles recover and the daily routine is broken. The importances of the first three points are easy to comprehend why is breaking up the routine intrinsically important? Breaking the daily grind with some other constructive activity lets people realize that while being focused with their yearly training plans, a little variety and change will not slow athletes down just because they did not follow the plan for a week. Instead a killer workout will be forgotten for a week then tackled with renewed vigor, training partners may actually want to talk to you, and you will have something new to say!
A second way to break up dryland training is to try and find new places to do long workouts. It is tempting to do the same loop over and over, checking your watch, comparing today's time to the normal time for the loop, but sometimes that sort of routine can get athletes too worried about numbers that do not really matter. I find it surprising to go to an area where many athletes live and no one has explored any other trails besides the normal routes. Go explore!
A third way to stay fresh is to have a non-ski related goal. Training and getting ready for the racing season takes a lot of time, but it does not take all of somebody's time. Bjorn Daehlie started a clothing company, starred in a hunting show and built summer cabins while winning Olympic and World Championship Gold medals. Doing something positive with your time in-between training will get your mind off skiing for a while and hopefully you'll learn something (watching TV doesn't count).
Still praying for snow!