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Season of David - Part VIII
By:  David Zylberberg   (2003/06/17)

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The followingis the first in a series of weekly articles by the "infamous" David Zylberberg, one of the original members of XC Ottawa. He is the writer of numerous amusing and sometimes controversial articles which have been the subject of much discussion within the Canadian cross-country racing community over the last 8 months. While David does not possess an advanced degree in physiology or sports science, hopefully the articles will be the source of much entertainment while you are putting off work, school, or chores. David's articles will be candid and will not be censored by the editors of XC Ottawa. (At least not usually) Please address your comments and questions directly to David.

I realized this week that some of the ideas I have expressed about training appear to conflict each other so I thought I should discus these apparent conflicts. The most obvious of these apparent conflicts is that between not training to win workouts, focusing on the purpose of the workouts, and my affinity for trying to push the limits of zone 1 on many distance workouts.

What I am about to discuss does not affect the purpose of training (racing faster) but its planning and execution. When training there are always a number of objectives to plan, some of which conflict. The most obvious conflict is that between training fast (this is necessary to race fast) and not getting overly tired. In order to train most effectively a balance that best accomadates these elements in order to best prepare to race fast. This balance is essential in planning individual workouts and in putting them together into a training plan. An inproper balance in either direction is not the most effective way to improve.

There are a number of other things that must be balanced such as increased strength and the desire to avoid excess muscle mass (impedes climbing), or training many hours to develop an aerobic base and the need to train fast (at least occassionally). A conflict during race season is whether to train through a race in order to race faster at a later one or to rest to be at your best for that event. Other conflicts can relate to the desire to train many hours and other priorities in life (job, family, school). In order to ski fast and be happy (this deals with the last one) a proper balance must be found between those competing objectives.

One particular dialectic that is important this time of year involves distance training. Distance training is most effectively done at relatively low heart rates (generally below 75% of maximum heart rates, I use a zone that goes up to 150) in order to produce the desired benefits of increased capillaries and blood volume, as well as to train the aerobic system without the excessive fatigue that impedes training a lot. Now, it should also be noted that distance training is not effective below a certain level, because the aerobic system is not being taxed (Hence sleeping cannot be training). As well, doing distance workouts faster is good for strength development, training the muscles to move faster and for training with more efficient technique. Finding the balance between the desire to keep effort moderate and to do things fast is essential to effective distance training. I generally train at a distance pace and effort comparable to other skiers when not using a heart rate monitor. I often find it useful to try to see how fast I can go with a heart rate below 150 or to push the pace a little on distance workouts in order to get the benefits of training faster. Now, I only do this with a heart rate monitor in order to ensure effort remains within reason and in order to maintain the desired balance.

I should also expand upon last week's suggestion to challenge workouts. Even if you are attempting to see how well a workout can be done, you should never train to do the workout better. As shown with my challenging distance workouts, you must also remember to keep the intensity in the desired range and not turn a 2-hour rollerski into a 50km race. Furthermore, high intensity intervals should always be raced, but not rested for, since they are supposed to be hard efforts. Those cautions being noted, the desire to do everything better and hone competitive instincts is another factor that should be balanced into effective training. Being able to balance all of the conflicting training desires is essential in order to race fast when it is important to you. I hope you can all find the balance needed to achieve your goals.

 
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