Tuesday, 28 April 2015

April

My apologies for not posting a blog in such a long time. Here is some of what I've been up to.

After the end of the world cup season I put in some training for the Norwegian nationals 50k. As part of my preparations I did the relay Birkebeiner with some team mates from Team Synnfjell. We raced under the name of one of the teams sponsor Fjøssystemer. We ended up winning the race it what was quite a fun and stressfull day. The logistics of getting everybody to right place at the right time for the transitions wa quite something. But we came up with an elaborate plan involving hidden car keys, skiing over mountains and several hours sitting in a car. I was doing the second stage, 18km from Skramstedsætre to Kvarstad. I got to my start point with plenty of time and set about getting my skis sorted. I was waxing my own skis. It was 0 degrees and snowing. Perfect "rub ski" weather. However I didn't have my rub skis with me. My theory was that it would be colder further in over the mountains so I waxed a little colder, but had some sort of grip at the start. Runar did our first leg and handed over to me about 10 seconds behind the leaders. I was racing against Odd Bjørn Hjelmset, the now retired norwegian team skier. I caught the 10 seconds up quite quick, but he was on rub skis that seemed to be working quite well. Up to the top of the mountains I had quite a job to keep up with him. It wasn't any colder or drier, so my skis were pretty bad the whole way. We got to our transition point together. I handed over to Trygve who ended up getting us a gap that won us the race. I changed, skied over the mountain to Sjusjøen where I met Trygve. We found Eirik's car (Eirik did our last leg), and drove his car back to Lillehammer where we picked up Eirik.
It was a fun event and it was even beter when we managed to win and show off our sponsors name a little bit.

After that I headed up to Harstad for the Norwegian nationals. There are a few things I dislike about the Arctic. The main one is that they always bang on about the bloody midnight sun! The tourism leaflets fail to mention that in December it is bloody misserable and it's pitch black at midday. However, being in Harstad in the spring was quite impressive. The weather was great and the views of the mountains going all the way down to the sea were great.
Racing in Harstad didn't go that well. I did 3 pretty mediocre races. The most important thing is that I completed the 50k individual start. I went so slowly that if it had been a mass start it would have had no positive effect for me. I'd probably have been lapped out. But I finished. I can now call myself a cross country skier.

With that it brought the season to a close. In all honesty I'm rather disappointed with this season. I had 2 good races  around Christmas time, with a 20th place in Davos and 15th place in Val Mustair. But I haven't had any other races remotely near what I believe to be my top level. It is frustrating.
As part of my review of the season  I looked through my training diary from last summer. I trained a lot. There were several weeks with over 30 hours of training, months with 100's of hours of training and hard work being put it. But yet here I am in April with very little to show for it. Quite why or what lead to me not having the most optimal season I'm not 100% sure. There were lots of irritating small things that happened, like picking up a stomach bug at world champs. But in terms of actual training there is very little I think I did wrong. I am going to make some changes for the next season. I'm not going to increase my volume, but I'm going to increase how hard I train. I'm going to have a few more hard sessions and they are going to be prioritised a bit more. Last year I had huge volume periods of training where I would train lots of hours no matter what. But now the focus is going to be more on the hard sessions and making sure I'm full rested and can get the most out of every hard session. This might mean dropping a session the afternoon before each hard session but hopefully it will give me the boost I need to progress next winter.

April has been a time for me to relax and completely shut off from skiing. During a bizar twist of events, I found myself on a plane headed for Canada the day after I got back from Harstad. I was in Whistler for 10 days. Away from skiing (cross country) and thinking about other stuff. By the end of the 10 days I was ready to head back to Norway but not quite ready to get back to skiing. I've also learned (the hard way) that despite what a travel agent says, you DO need a visa just to transfer through US airports. (thankfully you can buy some sort of emergency one for $14.
 I've spent the last 2 weeks having fun. Playing football in the evenings, going skiing when the weather is nice and doing a bit of running so I'm ready to run in the summer. It's been nice to not have to think about training or skiing. But now I'm ready to get back to training. I'm much more motivated now than I was at the end of March and I just want to get started with my summer training. I'm having one final week of unstructured training, but I'll slowly increase what I do this week and maybe even do a hard interval session at the weekend. By Monday next week I'll be back following a structured training plan and back working hard. Quite honestly, I can't wait. Every spare moment I get I'm thinking about where I can go training and what sessions I can do. So I'm really looking forward to it.

From now on I'll try to update a bit more regularly, but this gives your an Idea of what I've been up to recently.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Getting ready for a 50k

The last few world cups in Lahti and Drammen didn't go that great. I felt like I'd trained well and could produce a couple of decent results, but that didn't happen. My results were pretty poor, and I never quite managed to put a good race together. After Drammen I headed home, the idea of doing a world cup 50k at Holmenkollen wasn't so exciting for me. I'm quite tried after a long season and I'd rather head home and be able to train a bit. 

I have one race weekend left for the season. Not this coming weekend but the week after is the second half of the Norwegian national champs. The first half is in January each year and the second part is always in March or April. Normally there is only a teamsprint and a 50k at the second part, but this year things are a little different. There is a teamsprint on the Thursday, a 10k classic on the Friday and a 50k classic individual start on the Saturday. The last time a saw a 50k individual on the calendar was back in 2008. It is not an event that is run very often. Doing 50k on your own is cross country skiing, it is the oldest tradition of sport and it you can't really call yourself a cross country skier (or a man) until you've done a 50k individual start. This is my first opportunity at the event and I'm looking forward to it. 50k is a lot longer than a sprint or a 15k, which are the events I've been focussing on the most, so I've had to alter my training a bit and I'm having a couple of "50k sessions". I asked a few coaches about training for a 50k, and opted to have a few sessions that a bit longer and a bit harder than I would normally train. Yesterday was my first of these sessions, today I'm having a rest day and tomorrow I'm going to do a similar session to yesterday but a bit harder/faster. 
Yesterdays session was just over 3 hours and 50k in length with 860m og climb. The session was split 50/50 with half of the session being level 1 and half level 2. I normally ski at level 1 for easy sessions so going a bit harder into level 2 was quite tough to maintain for long periods of time. I split into rough 30min sections with 30min harder, a short break for a drink and 30min easier before another quick drink and 30min harder. It was a really fun session and covered a lot more distance than I normally would. But as I got to around 2hour 20 it was really tough. I'm not used to skiing for long periods of time, I probably hadn't eaten enough before the session or drank enough during the session. The last 40min or so weren't as fun as the first 2 hours. 
I'm really glad I did the session though. Getting a few good long sessions under my belt before the 50k at nationals is going to help a lot. Hopefully, be the time it comes to racing,  skiing for over 2 hours will be a bit more normal. I'll also have a better idea of what I need to drink and eat to make sure I have enough energy for 2 to 3 hours of skiing. I have another session like this tomorrow and I'm hoping it goes a bit easier than yesterday. You can get an overview of where I went and what the session looked like here. You'll notice on the map that I did take a wrong turn once, but the big out and back section was planned so I'd get to go all the way up Midtfjell from Kvarstad. 
My final hard distance session before the 50k will be on friday. I'm doing the relay birken, which splits the birkebeiner race into 4 stages of different lengths and difficulty. I'm doing the longest stage, stage 2, 18km from Skramstadsætra to Kvarstad. After that I have to ski the next 13k to get to Sjusjøen to get a left down off the mountain. The team is made up of 3 other guys from team synnfjell, and hopefully we'll have a shot at going for a top result. 
After the relay birken I'll ease my training back and focus on recovery and hopefully I'll be in top form for the 50k at nationals.