Sometimes my friends ask me how my training is going this summer, and I say, I don't know. I won't know until the skiing nirvana that is Silver Star in November if all of this bike commuting is actually good training for skiing, or if it's just a time-consuming (but awfully pleasant!) way to get to work. I've definitely got consistency going for me, which is good, since that's always been one of my (many) weaknesses--I've only missed one day of bike commuting in the last month. Of course, Seattle has been having an unusually warm and dry summer, so we'll say how consistent I am when cold and rainy December rolls around!
I'm just really enjoying the outside time, the fresh air, the sunshine, the birds, the quick stoplight conversations with other cyclists, but Martin tells me that bike commuting for 1:45 each day is adequate base training, too, especially if I can do long ski-specific workouts on the weekends and especially if I can squeeze in one or two early morning jogs and roller skis before I bike to work. I've been making that happen these last three weeks: one or two mornings, I do a short jog/walk in my neighborhood before jumping on my bike. That's hard, because (i) it's pavement, and (ii) my slow-twitch legs need 20 to 30 minutes just to warm up, so by the time I feel like I'm moving with any kind of fluidity, it's time to stop!
And one morning a week I'm double poling on the ship canal trail for 30 minutes or so before biking to work. The trail is short and flat, so just double poling for 30 minutes isn't much of a workout. What it is perfect for is some intensity; good skiers remind me that, even though this is base-building season, one intensity workout a week is still beneficial, so this week I turned the double pole session into speed work, 10-second bursts followed by 20-second recovery, repeat repeat in the fresh misty morning air. That feels like a good solid use of 30 minutes! Plus, I got special bonus points from the cool guy who said, "Wow, you really look good on those things!" as he biked by. That was awesome; usually people tell me how hard it looks, which can be a little discouraging. Plus, this week it was raining, the first rainy day in more than a month, and that made it extra fun. Good thing I had a pack of baby wipes in my car, so I could clean up enough to bike to work, where the shower in the gym downstairs took care of the rest of the grit.
For the weekend, it was time for long ski-specific stuff. Saturday: 16 miles of double poling on the Centennial, with the sun mercifully behind a layer of cool gray clouds.
Sunday, I took to heart the suggestion of Eric Strabel, APU coach and record-blasting winner of this year's Mount Marathon, when he said:
Sustained assertive steep hiking and running really works wonders for building hip and leg strength and endurance for skiing.I'll take any excuse for a good long trail run! So I took my hip flexors and my glutes and my big girl pack and headed to Tiger Mountain, where a lovely cool breeze kept the sunshine at bay. I started out with the three steadily uphill miles to the top of Tiger, then took the meandering up-and-down side trails back to the trailhead to turn it into a total of five hours of easy jogging and hiking on what turned out to be an absolutely glorious day to be in the mountains.
Tonight, my quads are a little stiff but my creaky knees are surprisingly fine, considering five hours is a pretty big jump from my previous longest trail run this year, so who knows? Maybe this goofy pseudo-training I'm doing this year actually is working! Time will tell.