Monday, November 19, 2012

See Holly Train-November

Kikkan Randall photo

Race season has begun, at least for the elite skiers!  In her first race, a 10k skate in Muonio, Finland, Holly scored a seventh place finish and got her race legs back under her after days of traveling.  In between racing and training and recovering, she found time to send us some excellent training thoughts for November -- our turn to be on skis is coming soon, so read on for some great early season tips!


Holly Brooks photo

November!  The ski season has officially begun! Fasterskier, Skitrax, Twitter, Facebook.... if you're a ski-news junkie, there is about as much ski news as one wants to digest.  This weekend European FIS openers happened in Norway, Sweden & Finland. Next week, the World Cup competitors come together for the opening World Cup in Gallivare, AKA, Northern Sweden.    
For me, November is the end of the training year and the beginning of the competition season.  It's time to scale back the hours and focus on going fast!  Rather than doing big hours and sleeping in my own bed, I'm traveling and racing.  I arrived in Europe just four days before my first competition and I would be lying if I said I didn't feel a bit of the 40-hour travel in my legs and arms during the race today!  If we had a private jet (like the Swedish team!) the travel wouldn't have been so bad but I had to take four different flights, complete with long layovers plus a long drive.  Yesterday, (the day before the race) I was so tired I could hardly move. I felt like a walking melatonin pill (the natural sleep aid that many of us use to become accustomed to the 11-hour time change).    
I have a full load of racing in my near future.  Ideally, I will race every World Cup race from the beginning of the season to the end of the Tour de Ski. Consequently, training load has dropped significantly.  While weekly training volumes used to be 20-30 hours, they are now 12-16. Hard efforts are usually kept to weekend races.  In the mornings I will often do short jogs to stretch my legs (think level 1, 20-30 minutes) and my "longer" morning session is about 1.5 hours. Throughout the winter I will still attempt to maintain my strength regime of 2x/week.  

Holly with Peter, the USST head waxer, and Sylan.
 For those not racing the World Cup, racing doesn't start for another month or two.  That means that you have plenty of time to carry your volume training a bit further before you should "taper off."  If you have access to early season snow and don't need to preform for a while, I would recommend skiing as much as you can. Nothing beats quality hours on snow if your goals include improving your skiing.  As my coach Erik Flora says, "If you want to be a swimmer, swim.. if you want to be a runner, run... and if you want to be a skier, ski!" I love cross training in the spring, summer and fall but winter is for the real thing!   
A couple thoughts...  
 - Make sure to get some good distance sessions in before attempting intervals. It's always good to have a strong transition to snow. 
- Don't just go out there and start skiing.... think about the season as a fresh slate and your opportunity to improve. Instill good habits from the first time you click your bindings shut.  Start every session with a technique pointer or two in mind. Keep it at the fore-front of your mind during the session.  
- Address early season aches and pains.  If you’re skating in a place with hard-packed snow, your shins might start to bother you. Take the time to roll them out on a foam roller and mix in some classic double pole sessions as well.  Don't let small problems become big problems! 
- If you don't have access to snow yet, use bungees or a concept 2 double pole machine (or double pole on your classic roller skis, of course).  Specific strength will take you far!   
That's it from Northern Finland!  The December report should be complete with stories from the World Cup!  
Happy training and smile big!  
Cheers, Holly 

By the way, the photo I used for the NNF article and this photo and a bunch of others just as gorgeous were taken by Alaska photographer Reese Hanneman; check out the rest of his work at this link:  http://engineroommedia.net

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