Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Getting Going

Cross country skiers traditionally start their training year on the 1st of May. Using May to get up and running in their training regime. My training in May is far from what I'll do in the hardest periods. Instead I try to have a good variation of training in May and do a bit of everything I'm going to do throughout the summer. Now in the 3rd week of the training season I've had my first rollerski sessions and my first interval sessions. Returning to a structured training plan and starting up rollerskiing again wasn't the easiest. I feel really motivated to train and really want to get into it, but even the most motivated people can't enjoy roller skiing in the rain. Running however, has been much easier. I've really enjoyed running this spring and I've had a few good sessions. I'm running on the track a bit more and doing a few interesting running sessions than I've done in the past. I've had a couple of speed sessions where I've ran sprints of 200m on the track, and Ive had an interval on gravel (6x4min) and an interval on the track (5x1km). It has added something new to training and provided a bit of inspiration. I'm planing on keeping the track sessions up throughout the summer. I have a small goal of running 3000m in sub 9min this off season. My PB from last year was 9.14, but I'm yet to run it this year. 

Along with the running and roller skiing, my strength training is now getting back on the go. I've managed to get two gym sessions a week in May. There is still a bit of finding our where I'm at, how much I've lost and gained compared to where I was last year. But I've gotten over the initial shock of staring up strength training again. Last week I had my first "core" session. Normally during the summer I have one such session a week as a sort of maintenance thing to keep on top of my core strength, my control and balance. I spend 45min to an hour working on it at a time. Starting with this last week wasn't really that fun. I had a 40min session and by the end my stomach was so sore I couldn't even get up of the floor. I had planned to do 45min but by the time I got to 40min I was so tired I couldn't do anything worth while. Hopefully the next session won't quite feel so hard. 

On Sunday I managed to take some time from training to celebrate Norway's national day. I was invited to a friends house for breakfast. (The celebrations start early with marching bands going a long the street from as early as 6, and of course everyone has to wear a suit or Norwegian national dress.). Starting at 10 and with champaign being the only beverage offered, it was more og a brunch than a breakfast. Everybody had made some food for brunch, or brought something with them. I had to take strawberries, I was obviously not trusted enough to make cake. The absolute highlight was the cakes and buns. We sat there until the late afternoon eating home bakes and strawberries, however I was most concerned with not spilling anything down my suit. By about 4pm we headed down to the centre of town to watch the "russetog". Basically everyone in the last year of high school goes on a 17day celebration from the 1mai until the 17mai. It involves them doing stupid things like sitting under their desk for a day at school, or spending 12 hours in the middle of a roundabout and this all has to be done while wearing ridiculous red overalls. It all ends with them walking in a precession on the 17mai through the centre of town. So we headed down to town to watch them walking along the main street for the entertainment. To see a group of hungover teenagers walking along holding signs with a witty slogan was actually quite fun, despite having to stand out in the rain to watch. 

This week I've got a fair bit of training planned. I want to complete at least some hard training before June, so I'm ready to train more throughout the summer. Tomorrow I've got a Vo2max test planned and another hard session at the weekend. 

I am planning on continuing with Team Synnfjell for this season. Things aren't 100% sorted yet but we are getting there. Unfortunately Frank Heggebø didn't renew his contract as coach for the team. He was offered the coaching job for Team Viedekke Vestlandet, one of the ski federations regional teams, and so he left Team Synnfjell. So Synnfjell has been a bit on the back foot at the start of this season, but I think things are almost fully sorted and the team announcement and coach announcement will happen soon. I'll keep you posted. 

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.