Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Ying and Yang of Training

This is how you know you're a nerd.


       A long time ago I read a book by a couple of US skiers from back in the nineties.  The book was "Pushing The Limits" by Marcus Nash and Scott Loomis. Per handed me a copy of it for helping out with the sportsman's show in Presque Isle. I was stoked and couldn't wait to read a book that was precisely about the crazy sport I was trying to understand. The most memorable part was the feeling of bewilderment I had when I finished the book and no one had won a medal. There was another chapter in that book though. At the age of 14 I didn't fully understood the point of it. Since then, I've come to respect what Scott Loomis was describing. The chapter was titled "The Ying and Yang of Training"
       I've said before that biathlon is a full time job. While I stand behind that, it should be noted that often times I only train about two to three hours a day. My mother works from eight too five with an hour for lunch. Who spends more time on the job? A two hour run can wear you down more than a couple of hours behind a desk can. That's why I often take an afternoon nap or seek out the team misuse if we're at a training camp. In other words the average day for an endurance athlete consist of going from one extreme to the other. This process coaxes the body into getting faster. This cycle is endless and is the foundation of the lifestyle as a whole. From doing max out intervals to structuring your next four years around an Olympic cycle versus resting between those max intervals to singing karaoke in South Korea, it's all the same. It should be noted that there is more than just a physical side of this to. The mental side of it is just as important.
        Some days I might find myself doing a six by eight minute race pace rollerski session. It's raining, but only because it's just a few degrees about freezing. It's only the half way point of a three week training block and my legs already have that lead feeling. My hands are so cold that I can hardly push that fifth round into the clip before my prescribed two minutes of recovery between intervals runs out. This sucks! Don't let anyone tell you that exercise in all it's forms is fun because this in an example of a time when it certainly is not. What makes it worth it, is not only the potential for great results in the coming racing season, but maybe even more so the warm shower waiting for you after the workout. The way I see it is the sooner and better I get done with the work out the sooner I get to the other side. The warm side.  The lunch and nap side.  Both sides are an essential part of success. One minute you're wondering how your going to keep up with Tim on that last interval in a ski tunnel during an August camp in east Germany, the next you're back home wondering if there is enough ice creme left to put on the batch of waffles you just made.
        There isn't much room for grey areas. To give you another example, the time I spent in Finland last February does justice to my point. It was cold! Very cold! One training session was going well. It was the pre-race workout the day before the mixed relay. Tim had to stop me at one point to inform me that there were white patches on my face! The next morning around 3:30am I woke up to an upset stomach. I didn't fall back asleep and had to duck out of the race. Warm and cozy, but ironically frustrated and bitter I sat inside all day trying to harvest what ever internet connection I could while watching the race on TV. I didn't have much of an appetite and had no idea what to think about the sprint race the following day. Low and behold I felt "decent" the next morning. I decided to go for it and thwart the cold weather and what ever parasite I might have had. I made it into the top ten for the second time of the season on that day. Later on that weekend we joined one of the Finish team members for sauna party. This consisted of sitting in excessively hot and humid cabin as long as you could tolerate, and then climbing into a hole in the ice outside. Sound familiar?  Hours later, the whole circuit is on a flight to their respective pre world champs training camp.
        The whole time spent in Kontiolahti, Finland serves as a perfect example of how the sport works. Perhaps the best example of that trip was the fact that I actually started thinking about how warm and sunny those five our distance session were going to feel months later in Lake Placid. When those five hour sessions did occur  all I could think about was how fresh and springy my legs felt during racing season, especially back in February. It really is from one extreme to the next.
       I could go on and on with other experiences that made me appreciate that chapter. I hate standing around. I would rather run for three hours or lay on the couch. Thanks to this sport I have no respect for grey areas. The forecast is calling for snow tomorrow out here in Utah. That should make our time trial a little more interesting. If nothing else, the harder it rain/snows the closer the leftovers in the fridge will taste to a gourmet dinner.

P.S. In retro spec, I think my sentences might be a little too wordy...

(your
(yang ex)

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