Rest week, and ready to go again!

By August 4, 2016 Uncategorized No Comments

After Alaska camp, my coach and I planned to give me a week where I wrote my own training plan, kept the hours and intensity extremely low, and focused on recovery. It was nice to have a mini-vacation in the middle of summer training, just to hit the reset button and come back refreshed and ready to keep the quality of each session high. So where did I go? To Canada! I had a really awesome week with my boyfriend Wade and his family in Winnipeg. With the exception of while we were training, I didn’t think about skiing, and that was a very good thing for me! Cabin time, lake swimming, hanging out at the pool…it was perfect. And I am so happy.

Wade and I checking out the Forks in Winnipeg!

Wade and I checking out the Forks in Winnipeg!

After that week, I flew to Duluth, Minnesota to drop in on the National U-16 camp. This camp took the best under-16-years-of-age skiers from around the country and brought them together for a chance to train hard, meet new skiers that they’ll be racing with throughout their careers, and most nights there was a “ski-education” presentation to go over training, racing, and get everyone inspired.  I hadn’t been to Duluth in way too long and it was really fun to be skiing up on the north shore and swimming in Lake Superior again, so the location worked great for me! Thanks to Rick Kapala for organizing and getting me out to the camp!

Discussing workout plans with Chad Salmela, one of the coaches at J2 camp.

Discussing workout plans with Chad Salmela, one of the coaches at J2 camp. (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

I always enjoy getting to guest coach junior skiers, and it’s inspiring for me to see everyone working so hard and improving so much over the years! I led a dynamic warmup, then skied with most every group during the distance part of the workout. I joined the girls group while we worked on classic technique drills, and it was some serious deja-vu doing the same drills, with Bryan Fish there as head coach, just as he was when I was at these camps as a junior!

Doing out dynamic warmup and mobility before heading out to ski along the North Shore! (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

Doing our dynamic warmup and mobility before heading out to ski along the North Shore! (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

Going for a distance ski with the girls! (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

Going for a distance ski with the girls! (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

Time for classic striding and running drills, Coach Fish style. (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

Time for classic striding and running drills, Coach Fish style. (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

Getting our bounding on while roller skiing! (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

Getting our bounding on while roller skiing! (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

After the 2+ hour ski, we headed over to the island by split rock lighthouse and did a little swimming and cliff jumping! I love this stuff. Best way to end a hot sunny workout, every time.

It was a shallow walk over to the island and Lake Superior was a pretty amazing temperature...normally, it's freezing.

It was a shallow walk over to the island and Lake Superior was a pretty amazing temperature…normally, it’s freezing.

When we got back from training I gave a presentation on world cup racing, what our life is like living on the road all the time (hint: it’s never boring) and what summer training is like. The other big emphasis was on maximizing the quality of the training you do in the summer by getting little details right, like having a small goal for every training session, and taking care of yourself afterwards by drinking, eating and getting dry clothes on. Unless you’re swimming right away, in which case you should go for it and change later.

Big air! (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

Big air! (photo from Bruce Adelsman/Skinnyski.com)

And then, the big revelation: they don’t hand out medals for training the most hours. They hand out medals for racing the fastest. It’s not just about the hours. Let me repeat that: It’s. Not. About. The. Hours. It’s what you DO with the hours that YOUR body can handle that matters.

Yes, you do have to train hard, but oftentimes we tend to focus on getting a certain number of hours because you read somewhere that, say, Therese Johaug trains 1,200 hours. For her, that works, and she’s great at it! But for most people, their body will break down and they will have a suppressed heart rate and not be able to get into race gear when the time comes.

Every body is different. I could hand out my training plan to everyone I know, we’d all do the same exact plan, and on race day, we’d all race differently. Because everyone responds to training differently and some people need a lot of volume, some need more intensity, some need a lot of sprint training and some don’t. It’s up to you and your coach to figure out over time what your body responds to, and what you need. But ultimately, it’s your job as an athlete to honestly check your recovery and how tired you are and adjust accordingly. And that’s really, really hard. It’s so much easier to focus on the hours and just do more, more more! But that’s how you get tired and crash, and believe me, I know because I’ve done it. The fall of 2014, I didn’t qualify for the rounds in two skate sprints in a row…the first time I’d failed to qualify in the top-30 since my very first World Cup sprint in 2011. It was a big slap to the face, but not a surprise, because that summer and fall I’d trained more than my body could handle and had to go on emergency rest in October. My season eventually swung around and by the World Champs in Falun, I was racing at my very best, but if my coaches hadn’t stopped me and gotten me to rest in the fall I would have lost the entire season. Lesson, learned.

Bottom line: I’m still working on it, and I’m not amazing at it, but it’s the most important part of my job. I don’t need help getting motivated to train hard…I need help feeling confident and OK with skipping a workout when I’m tired because deep down, I know that coming to the next training session able to kick ass is a lot more productive than stubbornly driving myself into the ground. I’m still working on it, but the progress I’ve made so far in learning to read my body is what let me take a huge step forward in racing last season on the World Cup.

Back with the gang in Stratton! (photo from Pat)

Back with the gang in Stratton! (photo from Coach Pat)

After the camp, I flew back to my summer training home in Stratton! Whew, that was a lot of traveling around! Good thing I’m a pro at packing and living out of a suitcase by now. Although everyone close to me will tell you that I still manage to make a big mess every time I unpack.

Anne taught me how to bake sourdough. But kneading for 20 minutes is a lot of work! (photo from Anne Hart)

Anne taught me how to bake sourdough. But kneading for 20 minutes is a lot of work! (photo from Anne Hart)

Big thanks to Podiumwear for our summer SMS training gear! We’re testing out new training spandex shorts and it’s so fun to keep tweaking the design and fit. I’m loving the way these ones feel, both in easy skiing, running, and intervals!

Andy testing out the new Podiumwear training tanks! Big thumbs up.

Andy testing out the new Podiumwear training tanks! Big thumbs up. 

Sophie modeling the girls training shorts with the guys tank.

Sophie modeling the girls training shorts with the guys tank.

And me, testing out the new shorts during a hard classic interval session! (photo from Coach Cork)

And me, testing out the new shorts during a hard classic interval session! (photo from Coach Cork)

Lots of training means lots of tasty snacks! My new favorite is a post-workout smoothie bowl with fruit, electrolytes, yogurt and granola bar crumbled on top.

Lots of training means lots of tasty snacks! My new favorite is a post-workout smoothie bowl with strawberries, mango, banana, nuun and yogurt, with crumbled granola bar, nuts and coconut on top. SO tasty.

Anne and I ready to coach the BKL camp kids for an afternoon! (photo from Erika)

Anne and I ready to coach the BKL camp kids for an afternoon! (photo from Erika)

And you know what time of year it is? SMS summer camp time, that’s what! This week has seen over 100 junior skiers roll through SMS, and it’s been awesome. The first half of the week was BKL age (9-14) camp and we joined them for a few meals, did a Q&A with them, and coached an afternoon technique session.

Anne giving some sprint start pointers to our group (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Anne giving some sprint start pointers to our group (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Julia racing with the junior girls in a sprint start. (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Julia racing with the junior girls in a sprint start. (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Andy explaining a technique drill to his group. (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Andy explaining a technique drill to his group. (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Anne and I demonstrating a "silly start" to the girls (you had to start lying down backwards and get up as fast as you could). (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Anne and I demonstrating a “silly start” to the girls (you had to start lying down backwards and get up as fast as you could)! (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Talking with the BKL kids after camp! (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Talking with the BKL kids after camp! (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

And signing the camp t-shirts...a tradition we do every year! (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

And signing the camp t-shirts…a tradition we do every year! (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

The second half of the week is the high school age camp, and it was great cheering them on in the uphill run time trial! This afternoon we coached them in some skate speeds, and we’ll do our over-distance workout with them tomorrow. There’s a Swedish group of junior athletes here joining the camp so it’s fun to see everyone mingling and learning from each other as well as the older athletes!

Pain faces out for the grueling (and hot!) time trial!

Pain faces out for the grueling (and hot!) time trial!

Giving starting tips to my group of older girls (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Giving starting tips to my group of older girls (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Getting after it! (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

Getting after it! (photo by Lilly Caldwell)