Monday, May 28, 2018

Why We Do It; How We Do It


Anyone who has been paying attention to the skiing world knows what we're supposed to do to train: easy distance, intensity, strength.  But sometimes we might wonder, why?  What is the benefit of each type of training?  Lucky for us, US Ski Team coach Jason Cork suffered through a running race recently and afterward spelled out exactly what he lacked by being undertrained:

  • I hadn't been doing a lot of easy volume (necessary for physiological adaptations which allow a person to exercise easily for long periods of time)
  • I hadn't done any intervals (necessary to build the capacity to move quickly; to minimize physical stress while doing so; and to build some economy of movement)
  • I hadn't been doing strength (helpful when you are climbing uphill and hopping between boulders)
So yes, the big three, in varying ratios of importance depending on whom you ask.  Traditionally you've wanted to do mostly easy distance, with small amounts of intensity, but a more recent school of thought says, yeah, that's all well and good if you're a young strong national team member whose job is to train, but those of us who are more seasoned, shall we say, and don't have unlimited time are better served with larger doses of intensity training.

I like that; I think intervals are fun!  So as the summer begins and next winter looms not all that far away, with big plans (again) for the ski season, I work on figuring out a training plan that works for me, that's possible in my own life.  My biggest limiter, besides the fact that I'm lazy as can be, is that I don't want to drive to work; I don't want to pollute the planet any more than I have to, I don't want to pay for parking, and I don't want to sit in Seattle's ridiculous traffic.  So I can take the bus or ride my bike.

Biking is terrific and I love it, especially when this is the kind of thing I see on my ride home:



And on days when I'm stuck at work late into the evening, it's nice to know that I still have an hour bike ride ahead of me to get home, so I'm going to get that workout in whether I want to or not!  But I learned in previous years that a training diet of just biking is great for cardiovascular improvement, but not so much for strengthening the legs, and specifically those little lower leg and foot muscles that you need for classic skiing, and the arms, which also come in handy for skiing.  So biking yes, but not every day.

Taking the bus a couple of days a week is the other option, and the only problem with that is that once I get all the way home, I'm not motivated enough to turn around and head back out for a workout.  But yay for me, I figured out a perfect solution!  I drive my car to the Ballard Bridge, park for free on a side street, take the express bus downtown, work work work, take the express bus back to the bridge, and there is my little car, waiting to take me just a ten-minute drive to Discovery Park, where an evening of roller skiing or stair running awaits before I ever go home.  I'm so happy with this solution!

And somehow, through an amazing alignment of the stars, everything came together last week.  I biked to work three days, and on one of those I stopped off at the free gym in my office building for a solid 45 minutes of lifting heavy things and putting them back down before I rode home.  The other two workdays I did the drive/bus/drive/Discovery Park thing and ran the beach stairs one evening and roller skied hill repeats one evening, squeezing in one more just before dark.


The weekends are easy: one day I roller skied on the Centennial Trail, a fun combination of double poling and uphill striding, and the other day I headed to Cougar Mountain for some easy distance on the bright spring-green trails.


It was a perfect week, a perfect mix of volume, intensity, strength, biking and hiking and rolling.  The odds of being able to pull this off week after week, all summer long, are pretty slim, but man, if I could, a serious fitness base would be built and the ski season would be a whole lot more fun.  At least now I know it's possible; I know how to do it.  Many things can get in the way, but ... why not give it my best shot?

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