Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meanwhile in Bavaria

Day 1
        It's pouring rain, my legs are not liking the downhill bashing I'm putting them through so I give up on charted trail and tread the woods in what should be the direction home. If my GPS isn't lying to me it should only be 2kms from the Raushberg. Not long after, I find myself knee high in Bavaria's finest thorn bushes. There's no turning back and if I just keep pushing the pace I should be able to keep the total for the day under five and half hours. This, is yet another day at the office of the 2013 Euro training camp.
Some hiking
       I mentioned last time that just looking at the training plan made me tired. Those fears were not unjustified. After the third day I'm pretty certain we were all tired. Since it was only the third day of a three week camp we all playing the "tired and hide it" game. When the first Saturday rolled around all we could talk about was how useless our once energetic bodies once were. I suspect the last couple of days of the camp are going to make the coaches feel like there working with a team of zombies.
Sometimes I hike really fast! Sometimes I
just use the zoom blur feature.
      At this point it takes a large training load to make any difference in fitness. I guess that's the point of these three week blocks. The other method is to be more clever at biathlon. Working on technique can compliment this approach. For me it really comes down to shooting better. The drop in range times is the biggest improvement of the year. If I could bring the hit percentages up then a lot of my problems could dissolve over night. That's the real goal of this camp. If I train 20+ hours a week and get lost on afternoon runs then that's just a bonus. We've already made some changes to the rifle and my shooting mechanic. Tonight I'll head into Ruhpolding for some indoor shooting and tomorrow we have a full blown time trial. In other words, there is still plenty of time to figure it out before heading back to the States.
      We haven't done much in the way of fun excursions. The economy around these parts seems to be a mix of tourism and farming. There isn't any lack of culture in Bavaria. That much is certain. For those of you from the US reading this try to imagine the belt buckle hat pilgrim style set of attire being completely acceptable clothing for going out on the town. Full Lederhosen and a walking stick are nothing out of the normal here. All of the women in the town compete with each other via window flower boxes while all of the men try to stack there wood as neatly and tight as possible. For the record I'm not exaggerating to make this sound better. Some styles change over the course of 400 years and some apparently don't.
Early morning
      The landscape is story book quality. The food is fresh and authentic. The roller loop in Ruhpolding is one of the best in the world and we're never alone on it. There is some great roller skiing right from our hotel and obviously good hiking as well. We've only done one long bike ride so far. There was supposed to be more but then Rainpholding happened. On that one ride I was able to borrow a BMC road bike that was only a few components away from the model used in this year's Tour de France. So yeah!
      Today marks the half way point of survival camp. My legs might fall off  during any three hour  now so wish me luck. On Sunday we head over to Oberhof for some skiing in a giant above ground freezer. Won't that be fun? This may not be part of the 400 year old Bavarian culture, but it's tradition for the US team to compete with each other for internet bandwidth while in the region. So far we're all losing and Bavaria is winning. If this updates make it up, it'll be a good day.
See what I mean? The warmth will feel the same
come winter regardless of how you stack it. 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Summer Training

       It's been a while since I've gone into much detail about the goals of work. The goal is to get better at this thing called biathlon. It's much easier said then done. To my credit though, I have become decent at trying. With last week's first round of trials in Jericho I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what ever progress or damage has been made thus far in the 2013 training season.
      The rest week in Placid wasn't what I had in mind. I spent most of it trying to recover from a twisted ankle and stomach virus combo pack. It took a whole week for my system to get back to normal. The best way to confirm this is always with your morning resting heart rate. I trust those numbers better than my own perception. If it's above 40 then there's reason for concern. If it doesn't drop under 50 then don't train. When it's back down to the mid too low 30s then I know I'm healthy and ready to get back to work. The ankle issue didn't deter training quality that much, but it took a lot longer to heal. As of this week I would say it's good for a three hour run.
There used to be a barn behind this tractor
      The rifle is up and running just fine. The idea was to polish it up a bit. I took some sand paper and wood filler to the less than presentable areas. Once that was as good as it could be I lathered on some stainer that helped match the shades of brown on the stock. In then end it was somewhere between a 5th grade science project and a professional biathlon stock. Lets not forget that aesthetics are never a limiting factor in hit percentages.
     Speaking of hit percentages, I should probable brush up on the more plaguing problem of my career. No, my shooting is not where it should be but yes, there is still plenty of reason for hope. Otherwise why bother? After cleaning a WC sprint race and seeing how much damage poor range times can do I was set on bringing down the on to off mat time. This goal has been met! Prone is on average about 28 too 32 seconds. Even during high intensity the time is faster than ever. Standing is a little better at about 24 too 28 seconds. This is great and I'm glad to be closer to the rest of the field. On the other hand the hits are still not there.
The sister's wedding went off very smoothly. 
      What I'm trying to do is find a consistent cue or thought process that I can focus on. One that's simple enough to concentrate on even when under pressure but effective enough to bring the odds of hitting into the 90s plus range. The best analogy for this I can think of involves starting a car. Look at it this way. If the the goal was to start a  car engine you would concentrate on putting the key into the ignition and  turning the key. It's simple and consistent. In the  off chance that the engine doesn't start it has nothing to do with your process. Similar to shooting in the fog. My current situation doesn't have a key or ignition. I'm still trying to start it by hot wiring the colored wires. Sometimes it works other times it doesn't. There is no reoccurring patter to rely on. Jostling the wires one way may work for one try but not the other. Focusing on good rhythm in prone seems to work for one day, but the next it doesn't and the percentages go back down. This isn't what I need right now. I need the equivalent to a key and ignition switch for my prone shooting. I hope that made sense to you.
Really enjoying the new bike right now!
       These odds didn't help the old confidence factor going into the Jericho trial races last weekend. The sore throat and cold that wiped out almost a whole wing of the barracks didn't do much either. I was getting a little worried and didn't know what to expect from the sprint race on Saturday. Since I needed to do these races it didn't much matter whether I was sick or not.
       In then end the sprint race was a success and the pursuit was not. I missed three in the sprint on a windy day when the rest of filed and similar to worse shooting. Most of the time 70% is  nothing special, but I was pleased at the end of the day. Surprisingly ski speed was also in a good place. While there was no doubt that I was sick my legs felt better than they had all week. Sometimes you get on the better end of the sick spectrum and can role with it. I guess this was one of those times.
       The pursuit was simply a bad race. There wasn't much in the way of professionalism. Ski speed was decent, but not as strong as the sprint. Shooting was reflective of how it's been feeling. It also doesn't help when you go the wrong way. There's not much I can do about it now, but I have plenty of time to prevent it from happening again before the Utah races.
Couldn't decide which one was better so I posted both for you.
      Tomorrow the team heads over for the 2013 Euro camp. Two weeks in Ruhpolding and one in Oberhof. After only glancing at the training plan I felt exhausted. This is going to be another three week stretch of survival. With Jericho races behind me the coaches and I have a rough idea of what to work on going into the fall training season. Lack of training time to work on this will not be an issue.