Tuesday, November 3, 2015

First skin track of the year!
Happy almost winter! There is enough snow on the ground in the mountains around me to get out with boards under foot. That super motivating set of circumstances has gotten me aroused from my summer long boggernation (blog hibernation???). I have been thinking through some training stuff all summer and thought Id talk about it now that it is impossible for anyone to use it and get an edge over me as I vie to come in above mid pack this year! Seriously, I wanted to once again use myself as a guinea pig before spewing 1/4 baked ideas on the internet. I prefer to spew half baked ideas...

Weight training

A great snatch sequence. Note the engagement of the lower back, multiple leg engagement and full range of motion plus arm engagement. Add the explosiveness of doing it for real and you can see why this looks like good cross training for skimo

Weight training for endurance sports seems to be kind of a poorly developed field of training. I cant find a lot of data or studies on it and so just have individual peoples renditions to go off of for the most part. Im interested in it though because it makes sense that it could decrease injury and improve performance in any sport if applied correctly. The best ideas to come out of this have been through talks with my school's PE teacher and wrestling coach who is an incredibly intelligent and reflective guy with decades of coaching, training and doing under his belt. I had been reading about olympic lifts and the benefits of that explosive strength and he added to that the idea that a lot of strength comes from the development of neuro-muscular pathways which allow you to recruit a lot of muscle quickly to do what you are trying to do. I guess this is a fancy term for coordination? Anyway, Ive been trying to get the snatch down all summer and making good headway. I am a fan of taking my time and mastering movements so while others may rush into claiming they have "got" something, I hesitate to make that claim and just focus on improving technique a lot more. Hence the many month long timeline here. I started in the spring and did 3 sets of 10 reps twice per week all summer. I switched to 8 sets of 3 in a pyramid approach going up to a 3 rep max and then two sets of descending weight about a month ago. This pyramid is something Im doing once a week now that Im back to doing sprints and threshold runs so I have some recovery time.

As context, let me say Ive done nothing but trail run all summer so no speed work at all. This fall as part of my reserve military training I had to take my physical fitness test. It includes a 2 mile run. I got one of the fastest times Ive ever gotten in over 20 years on it. I think a good bit of this has to be attributed to the lifting as I have not run much faster that a 10 min mile pace all summer. Im psyched to see what this translates into on skis. I usually start the season with burning legs on the downhills in races and have to take the occasional breather but this goes away by the end of the season. Reducing those breaks will definitely help in races!

Also, early in the season, I will sometimes work my lower back on long skin tracks or bumps as my body adjusts to new movements. The lifting has definitely strengthened my back so we will see how that works out.

Im doing more than just this of course but the snatch seems like a great full body engagement exercise without having to pile on tons of weight which I think may be counter productive at some point.

A great tip I read on my favorite coaching blog, Steve Magness' The Science of Running, was that you should approach lifting as bit of a sideshow so do it after your workout and dont try and be a pro, it is not your focus. So, I take it seriously but not too seriously.

One thing Ive been impressed with is the pyramid type sets. I quickly was able to put up more weight than I could with longer sets and the two sets where you decrease weight at the end are really hard, forcing me to focus on technique even more but with a lower weight so I didnt need to focus as much on the weight if that makes any sense. I typically fail on these sets a lot more than the others.

Sport Specific Motion

Sport specific motion has been emphasized a lot on Skintrack recently both here and here. For good reason! Their efforts to remind us of this should not go unheeded. This fall I was the lucky recipient of a long term loan of some classic style roller skis. A friend commented that they seem a lot like skiing but instead of soft snow there to catch your falls you have pavement. True, but besides that, they are a great way to start to get your ski legs under you.

They take some time to get used to so start off slow but they are a pretty cool way to start to get your arms, shoulders and hip flexors back into ski mode.  One thing Ive noticed though, after spending a few days getting used to these suckers on the flats, you have to go find a long paved hill to train on. They glide too much on the flats and you end up with a really different stride then when you are skinning. A wide shoulder on a mountain highway going up to a high pass would be ideal. Im not sure if I have such a place within easy end of the day reach but Im exploring options. I also dont have the money to put a set of tech toe bindings on these so are just using them with SNS bindings and boots. Beggars cant be choosers!

Also on the sport specific motion front is skinning even if there isnt enough snow to ski, something Id been thinking about all summer and then saw in one of those Skintrack posts above. That spurred me into action and I was able to get out this past weekend for a few hours of skinning. The snow was not good enough to make me want to rip my skins so I stuck to old logging roads. Fun to be back on skis!

First tracks! Followed by picking all the seed pods out of my boot liners...

The next day, all the little stability muscles in and around my pelvis were reminding me I had not dont this skin thing lately. It was a good reminder that getting in shape with some easy workouts is important prior to crushing.


Finally, some thoughts on gear. You may have noticed my odd skin attachment system in the first picture. Welllllllllllll, long story short, In a brilliant display of what a dumbass I can be I built a new set of skins recently and was kind of doing it in between a bunch of other stuff and managed to put the tip attachments at the wrong end. I only noticed this when I got to my local area at oh dark thirty. Well, thank goodness for my repair kit. I thought of a handful of fixes I could implement with duck tape, zip ties and other odds and ends but settled on a quick fix of a piece of tape over the ski tip to the skin tip. Worked great. I only mention this because as you get reacquainted with your gear, dont forget to bring the repair kit!

Finally, since I was skiing some low angle stuff, I thought Id just twist my heel posts sideways so my foot lay on the ski for a more comfortable ramp. I never do this so was surprised that my Dynafit Low Techs (2 year old model) only have stops at the 1/3 way point and never fully stay completely sideways which is the only way my boot would be able to lay flat. Not a huge gripe since I never do this but after 2 seasons I thought I knew these bindings! Guess not.

Intensity training

Intensity training is back on the agenda and it feels good to be moving fast after a summer of just having fun and doing longer runs, a horrible skimo strategy but what the heck, it was fun to range the mountains around me and see new sights. Im reminded that a few bouts of speed training per week are going to be important to doing well and they feel good!


SO, some half baked thoughts on training with more to come, especially regarding the efficacy of the olympic lifting. I hope you are all getting psyched about winter and hope to see you out at a race soon!


Check out the Q/A on the About Page- I got a really interesting question from a reader there and would welcome other folks perspectives on the issue!


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