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Athlete's Diary: Tom McCarthy's Mid Summer Report
By:  Tom McCarthy   (2006/08/02)


What follows is a pragmatic evaluation of how the summer is progressing, training-wise, and how I hope itíll flow into the fall.

One thing that I do like in terms of training is routine. When training is being fit into and around something that is a bigger priority (ie work), it helps me when I have a pre-determined weekly framework into which you can fit training opportunities. My summer training has fallen into a pretty comfortable pattern, which looks like the following:

  • Monday: Strength, at the gym. Mostly focussing on upper body, shoulders-back-arms, high-weight low-rep (usually stay the same weight, reps of 10-8-6 or until I max out.) Have started to mix in some explosive legwork outside on a steep hill. Usually get there at 7:30pm or 8pm and do 1.5-2 hours total with 1 hour strength and ~1 hour zone 1 warmup/warmdown.

  • Tuesday: Team practice. Variety of things, usually plyometric work followed by a z3 interval workout. Occasionally do sprints here. Usually about 1.75 hours, 0.75 of that is z1, .25-.5 is z3, and 0.5 is strength. Practice starts at 6pm.

  • Wednesday: Paddling night!! Go out to the wave at Champlain Bridge or explore any other place supposed to have a good surfing wave around Ottawa. Usually get about 1.5-2 hours of paddling in (whitewater though, which is off and on). I count for z1, but it is good core strength and stability work.

  • Thursday: Rollerskiing: usually do 1.5 hours if possible, and have a specific focus: never only easy z1. Always sprints or legs only/doublepole or technique and agility drills or z2/3 work.

  • Friday: Day off or sometimes a 1 hr run around the river paths with some running drills and accelerations (pick-ups, speedwork) thrown in. Rarely go to gym if I really need work.

  • Saturday: Usually long slow distance workout. Occasionally turns into a full paddling day, which I rarely turn down. Try and do something in the 3-4 hour range.

  • Sunday: Team practice. Some type of intensity, occasionally z3 25k time trial (every 4 weeks in summer) or sprints or intervals etc. Usually 2 to 3 hours of work.

Thatís my routine. Of course, thatís my optimal routine. Because work is a higher priority than skiing, it usually gets in the way of that week. Last week, for example, I worked way too much, and didnít make it to training at all Tuesday, did a 0.5 hour z1 run on Wednesday to clear my head, and had to settle for a 15 minute run and 15 minute core session on Thursday. So three days basically off. Frustrating, but thatís the way it is. Should I expect to be a superstar at skiing this winter with that kind of schedule and that kind of priorities? No. But my goal is to make an A final in a national-level sprint race this winter. If I do that, I will be very pleased.

One other thing is that there isnít a lot of variation in the hours. I donít have the time to do much variation. What Iím hoping is that some periodization effect and peak/valley cycles will occur through the amount and type of intensity I am doing, rather than the volume. So right now intensity is mostly z3, with some sprints, and work on power etc., but towards the fall we will turn to z4 and begin to play with the interval periods.

One good thing is that I feel strength and power are here- just need to maintain and work on explosiveness, and on focussing strength in the right direction. Its one thing to have the strength and the power- itís a totally different thing to have that strength and power firing optimally at the right point in the stride. That takes specificity and focus, I think.

Recovery is not optimal. Getting 8 hours sleep a night is about the best I can hope for, usually around 7.5 hours is more realistic. That is not good, and always a challenge to improve upon. Iíve been through enough to know the value of recovery Ė still a challenge to actualize it though.

Itís not perfect, but itís the best I can do. Training and work fill my days completely.

Tom striding with a tire at Mooney's Bay.

Tom on the right, his brother Ed on the left. Don't mix them up!

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