Monday, June 24, 2013


Of course it’s all over the media, so there’s not a whole lot more I can say about the AB flooding, except for maybe how it impacts one part of my

My old Finnish xc ski coach Ahvo, used to say, "skiers are made in the summer." This summer has been totally changed. Every road leading out of our town has been impacted. You can only come in and out if you live here (that’s an improvement from last week where no one could go anywhere). One benefit of living here is that I’ve got great training right out my door. That is if you’re running. And running is pretty much how I was planning on arranging my training. With my rotator cuff injury rendering my left arm pretty much useless, triathlon was cut off the radar. For some reason I was getting fascinated by world mountain running and skimo champ Killian Jornet’s exploits. I met this hero my first year of ski mo racing. The awards ceremony for the race in Whistler was taking forever, and no one seemed to be talking to this shy Spainiard, so I took the opportunity to pick his brain on the sport for around an hour. Little did I know that he’d go on to become one of the aerobic world’s most recognizable figures.

In Killian’s vid’s he has magnificent shots of him running in the Alps, Pyrenees and other Euro mountains. It’s incredible! I decided then that I would emphasise mountain running with just a bit of cycling. We have similar beauty and ruggedness up here in the Canuck Rockies. However getting to these places may be a challenge. As long as you make it into Banff you’re ok, but that’s going to be quite a challenge. The Legacy Bike trail has a bridge out. The west bound 2 lanes on the TCH are totally gone. They’ve got limited traffic going across the remaining ½ of the TC. I guess I can take a bus, toting my bike, then go from there. The back door to Banff up Spray lakes road is closed as mutiple rock slides closed that road and the Goat creek into Banff will have massive flood damage. The 1a out of town towards Exshaw has several problems (sections missing, massive rock slides), and when it’s done it’s going to be the summer route’s going to be a traffic nightmare on this slow 2 lane highway.

It’s a "preppers" scenario. Those of us with fitness and bikes can get to places. Everyone else either stay home or wait in insanely long detour traffic (that is when they finally get even the detours up and running).

The damage from this storm was unbelievable. The smallest creek (and there are many running out of our mountains) became swollen rivers with vast destructive power. The landscape has been forever changed and it will take months if not years for the repairs to be completed.

I guess instead of worrying about what’s not getting done work wise it’s time to realize what you are able to accomplish and when that line is reached...go out for a run!

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I recently read Arthur Lydiards’ biography and also his coaching book, "Running to the Top". Older athletes may recall this coaching superstar. Many credit him with the world wide running boom in the 70's. He was an uneducated shoe factory worker who also had a milk delivery route at night, but he was also a runner. He loved experimenting on himself. Gradually, a few of the local track athletes sought him out for training advice. It turns out he was incredibly wise and insightful. He took a bunch of no name athletes and turned them into world and Olympic champions. His greatest runner was Peter Snell. Snell won 800m Olympic gold in the ‘60 Olympics, then repeated in ‘64 adding the 1500m title too. So far, the only one to win double gold in these two distances. Snell is now an exercise physiologist in Texas. Having the highest level of education in the field, interestingly he affirms all of his old coaches training methods. The ones Lydiard arrived at through personal experience, investigation and astute observation.

Arthur Lydiard

When Lydiard came on to the scene pretty much all middle distance coaches threw tonnes of interval training at the athletes. Lydiard’s method was to spend 3-5 months doing nothing but easier base long distance base running before moving into more race preparing intensity. He’s credited with the LSD movement (not hallucinogenic), long, slow, distance. Really though, guys like Snell weren’t really going that slow, running around 6:30 miles. But for him that was slow. The point is to not go into your anaerobic threshold. So I believe that would include pretty much everything up to zone 3 (on a 5 zone system). Lydiard was roundly criticised for this method, but people quieted a little when his no name athletes became world beaters. Of course, soon after this era, and even during it, the trend went right back to all interval and fast training. That’s where we find ourselves today.

Years ago I remember reading Peter Snell on this topic. He said that as a middle distance runner people were mocking him for doing 3 hour runs. But he also said that he really wasn’t that fast and a great "kicker", even though he was known for his final kick. It was just that his endurance was so much greater that he had the fitness to use what speed he had. He also mentioned that 40+years later, he still holds the New Zealand national record for the 800m. He then went on to say something to the effect, "You’d think they would figure this out!"

Peter Snell

The idea is to spend as much time as you can building the engine. The long, slower efforts do just that. Then when it comes time to notch things up a bit (really only 6-8 weeks of intensity training) everything about your body/engine is bigger and more efficient. More capillary beds to deliver oxygen, more mitochondria to produce ATP’s for energy, a higher VO2 max, the list goes on and on.

As skimo racers and our need to climb mountains as fast as humanly possible, I can’t imagine any other sport with higher physical demands. We absolutely MUST build a big engine. I recently read that Killain Jornet goes for 3-5 hour runs in the a.m. then does another 1-2 hours in the afternoon. His intensity training is only his racing, which is a lot...30 skimo races and 30 running races.

So I’m changing things a bit this year. So far this summer, almost every workout I’ve done is a minimum of 2 hours. Longer stuff, easier stuff, lots of vertical running/hiking to the top of mountains. Topping out on a mountain is fabulous! I love it! Going up, getting a view, being vertical.... after all as skimo racers we gotta get vertical!!

Monday, June 3, 2013


I’d heard about this fantastic race from a few friends that have done it over the years. It was with excitement, but trepidation that I accepted Mike Norton’s invitation to be a part of his 8 person team. Over the years I’ve had a few friends (all fast friends!) Team up with Mike and I knew that he enters to WIN! Be competitive for the victory or don’t bother. Since the Ski2Sea came US Memorial weekend it meant keeping my high end training up during the normally "detraining"period.

I’d heard that Justin Wadsworth, head Canadian XC coach, was instituting something different with his team during this important detraining phase... 1 day per week of 4x4min intervals. Maybe a bare minimum for those guys, but the idea is to not lose that high end so as to not be starting farther back once the detraining period is over. It might be kind of a risk for those guys as I remember years ago Steve Gaskill (at that time head US XC ski team coach) explain that if you don’t have that rest-detrain, then it’s been observed that athletes kind of peak out.

In any case my weekly 4x4's consisted of hammering up the Spray Lake road. By the time I’d top out around the Reclaimer bike trail I was totally exhausted. The only problem was I then had to run back home (albeit all downhill) a :40 run. With legs shaking and exhausted lungs it wasn’t an easy task. I observed that each week I seemed to make it just a bit farther up the road for the 4x4 efforts. Fun stuff!

As for the race itself, it turned into quite the wet affair. Not surprising I guess given the location, but the weatherman hadn’t predicted such a soggy day. I was actually a little glad for my leg. The day before I was pre skiing the course w/ Marshall, whom I’d met earlier this year in France at Skimo worlds as he was representing USA. As we skied the downhill portion, he was as slow as a tree on the side of the trail. I’d super rilled my skis and put flouro powders on them, the latter is something we never do as the skins wouldn’t stick (for this race we only bootpack, not even using climbing skins). This ski prep for the very wet conditions was rocket fast. I couldn’t believe how fast my skis were! On race day top USA skier Max Taam and Marshall peaked together and Marshall blew him away gaining over 30 seconds on the short downhill. I later learned that Marshall learned from our training foray and went home and powdered up his skis. Max didn’t bother. A lesson learned by all.

  Our team

I started my leg in 6th. On paper, our xc skier should have come in first or very close to it. Marco Andre-Bedard, one of Canada’s best biathletes and the prior month beat both Brian Gregg and Tad Elliot at the Canadian XC Nat’ls (Brian and Tad finished their S2S leg 1-2, with Caitlin Gregg a not too distant 3rd-amazing!), but unfortunately Marc only had tiny baskets on his poles that totally sunk down into the slop, essentially giving him no arm poling. I passed a couple skiers moving us into 4th.

I handed off to Dusty, who moved us up another place with his blazing fast downhill run. From there we faded a bit into 6th where we spent most of the day, that is until the last 100m. We were passed by 2 kayaks in the final 100m. It was hard to take, but our team did improve from 10th last year to 8th.

We were an open corporate team. It’s kinda cool because the local radio station announces the race live all day and the higher up you are, the more your sponsor gets mentioned. We did him well, especially in the first few legs!

This was really a super event. There’s 500 teams and lots of local media attention. The whole town of Bellingham WA really gets into it. The day caps off with a big party in the main street area celebrating Memorial weekend. Mike’s already asked me to come back next year, the biggest compliment ever for me! So I have one more reason to stay fit and give ‘er a good go next ski season!

PS the race consists of the following legs: XC, skimo, run, road bike, canoe, mountain bike, kayak