Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hiking & Running with Poles

This morning I bagged one of my local favs....Grotto Mountain. Well, technically I didn't get to the total top, just the false summit. It's where I generally go. From the Alpine Club Canada clubhouse it's a major vertical climb. much of the hike is serious steep. It's good training for rando racing bootpacking because of its equivalent steepness.

A hike such as this without poles would be much harder....both up and down. Going up I generally double pole it really leaning over and reefing on those poles. On the descent it keeps your speed in check and is a good back up in case the ankle starts rolling over.

A friend recently commented that he couldn't bring himself to run with poles after observing all the "Nordic Walkers" at the ski hill where he works. Granted, the new fad has its fair share of "cherry pickers" (those that really aren't using the poles but pluck them ahead anyway), but the guys that do it right really use their arms.

Here's a video of some jr. athletes bounding....some good, some not so good:

The bottom line is that xc & skimo are quadrepedal sports, using all 4 limbs. As such, it places a higher demand on the cardio system (why xc skiers record such unworldly VO2 values). So we've got to train this way.

While in line for some lunch in Italy for the skimo Euro champs last year Dave D. and myself talked a bit to the Austrian delegation leaders. One of them commented that they used to just mountain bike all summer, but with their new coach- a former nat'l team xc skier, they were radically changing things. Mountain biking has a couple of serious limitations. First, it's not quadrepedal and second, it's not weight bearing. In the 80's a few of my xc friends would bike a lot, but take their saddles off (making it weight bearing). It was a whole new workout!!! Try it, you'll see the difference (just make sure you don't mistakenly sit down onto the seat post....ouch!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Go Vertical or Go Home!!

Last weekend Deb & I did the inaugural “Hector’s Haul” running race up Kicking Horse ski area. It was a 4400' climb over 4km. With only 8 competitors (Deb being the only female), a podium finish was within grasp. I say this half jokingly because races like this are all about training. The timing was interesting as we’d just returned from our family vacation. After 10+ days of sitting either in a car or at the beach I was feeling less than fit, but pretty well rested.

Local ski patroller, Ian Gale and myself went head to head until the final alpine bowl where he seemed to want it more than me and pushed harder....going for the win at just around 1 hour. I ended up a couple of minutes back.

At this stage of the training year I’m doing 1 interval workout each week. We’re still in the base period, but next week will transition into the build period. So for the next 16 weeks I’ll increase the intensity workouts from 1/week to 2. I still remember my ski coach talking to Greg Lemond about his training and racing. Greg was the first American to win the Tour de France. He received a lot of criticism though for not doing so well in the classic Euro races leading up to the tour. But Lemond knew what he was doing. He shared with my coach that he knew about lactic acid curves (charting your heart rate and lactic acid level) and that too much hard stuff moves your curve in the wrong direction, meaning that when it comes time to won’t. Another great athlete, Swedish skiing star Thomas Wassberg once mentioned that he was proud of the fact that he never won a race before Christmas. However AFTER Christmas he won a lot, including Olympic and world championship races.

Racing is good for training though, even in the base period. It keeps you mindful of the discomfort often felt in racing and it keeps your body on that upper edge. But for sure it shouldn’t be over done this time of year.

As for vertical, it’s time to start climbing!! I was pleasantly surprised at my mental attitude during Hector’s Haul (other wise known as H.’s Hurl). I think I’m getting used to prolonged vertical climbs. Rando racing sure puts a premium on this. The first uphill at the Euro champs individual race last year took me almost an hour.

So from here on out I’m planning on doing 2-3 major mountain vertical hikes per week and one shorter uphill interval workout. I love these workouts as you usually get rewarded with an amazing mountain top view!!

So....go Vertical or Go Home!