Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Steveo's Last Run

I'd finally begun to get into the ski season with a race in Whitefish MT, then Fernie. However, the season wasn't meant to be. Descending the first downhill in Fernie I took a high speed tumble with outstretched arm and immediately knew something major had taken place in my left arm. My first impression was that I'd broken my humorus. I held it and called out a weak "! I need help". First to come was a snowboarder named Ashton. I'll never forget this wonderful guy. He unselfishly positioned himself on the steep hill and held my incredibly awkward arm in place for the longest time. Eventually as the patrol arrived they relieved him of his duties, but not before they cut off my suit. Someone exclaimed, "you might not want to look." Well I did and was amazed that an arm could even be contortioned into that position. Turns out it was waaay dislocated.

It was 2.5 hours before they finally got the shoulder back into the socket. First came the laughing gas, then the sled ride down, followed by the ambulance ride to the hospital. Just having that incredibly uncomfortable position and pain (despite the gas, fentynal and a couple other pharmacuticals, it turned out to be the longest 2.5 hours or my life. By the time the shoulder was re-located significant nerve damage had been done. It's been 1.5 weeks and I still can't feel my fingers. I also have no strength in that arm, wrist, shoulder.

It's getting a little better though. Though I'm relieved, it has some downsides. That whole shoulder region is so numb that the pain of the accident has been minimal, but today I started feeling the affects of a torn rotator cuff and various other stretched and bruised ligaments.

I'm not even thinking of skiing again this year. First the nerve issue has to get resolved, then we can asses the damage and consider surgery for the rotator and possibly tighten up the shoulder. I hope we can do this as I really don't want to be one of those guys that continually pops his shoulder in and out. Plus I tend to do a fair bit of training alone and in the backcountry. I can just see me having to bang it against a tree to get it into place if I fall, not to mention the pervasive fear of this happening. I know recovery will be longer, but I'd like to get it fixed. I've already got a small rotator cuff tear on the other side, so now I have a matching set. We've got 2 really good shoulder guys, Heard and Butchko. I'm so grateful to have such great Dr resources. Plus my sport doc and friend Andy Reid. All these guys service our top Olmpians, so I know I'm getting the best care.

Looking at Facebook is one of the most disheartening things as you see what all your friends are accomplishing on their skis, so I don't hardly look at it. But everyone needs a focus to keep going. My goals have changed into things like:  # of icings, stationary bike workouts most ever day (2x z4 each week to keep my fitness), strength for legs and core, 2x physio/wk, etc. All this is with the hope of being able to play my guitar in the worship band in church on Easter Sunday. Given the lack of strength in my hand and the numbness, this might not be possible and it's not really a goal, just a hope. I can only control the things that might lead to that. I also believe that prayer is powerful tool too, so there have been a lot of prayers from me and for me. But I also pray for the ability to patiently get through each day where I'm at and pass each little test. Though the goals have certainly changed for the year the challenge has not!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stamina, Strength and Skill

When it comes to setting skimo race goals, from time to time we need to re-evaluate and change with your current situation. I'm currently excited about some of my new goals, and new races I'm planning on tackling this season.

Yet every workout can and should have a goal. If you're just going through the motions, then improvement will come slow. Every workout can be broken down into 3 areas: Stamina, Strength and Skills.

You should know for each day which of these 3 you're working on. Of course, workouts can combine these. For example, on a long "stamina ski" you can do several "skill" boot pack transitions. Or in an interval workout, make sure your course has several kick turns.

I also like to make my workouts as measurable as possible. I time myself on race gear on the "Lone Pine" run at Norquay ski area (set my pb this week). During my "Billatt" workouts (check out this interval protocol, it's been found to boost VO2 max by 6-8%) I measure and mark how far I can get up the hill. I have many friends that measure their total vert for the day. Some even keep track of their yearly vert values. Constantly challenging yourself is a great way to stay motivated and chip away at improvement. And it's usually the athlete that consistently and continually improve themselves that end up on the podium.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

While out of running for 8 weeks to rehab my toe surgery (removed a neuroma that had plagued me for 8 years), I needed a creative way to train for the upcoming ski mountaineering season. The mountain running I’d been doing was such good preparation.... lots of long sustained climbs into higher elevations with thinner air (good training benefit).

My solution was found in Vertical Mountain Biking. Around my home I’ve found several good, long uphills. Sustained climbs of around 1-1.5 hours. On the bike they vary from long gradual cruisers (Red Earth creek-1 hour) to downright challenging granny gear intense climbs (Sulpher Mountain backside 1.5 hours). Closer to home is Skogan pass, a good 1.5 hour climb to the top and about 900vertical meters.

I tend to like the less intense climbs as they provide screaming high speed downhills with not as much technical braking (also good for skimo training).

Some of my other favorites include: Sunshine ski area access road (start from the highway for 1k vertical m); Nakiska ski area (cat track to the top. 1.5 hours); Norquay ski area.

However, after last weekend, there’s snow in them thar hills (Nov. 1) so it’s time to crank up the skiing!