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Canmore has been phenomenal (as usual) for training this last month. We have definitely had our share of rain and wind, but for the most part there are pockets of sunshine even on those days! Over the last three weeks I have started to run a bit more. At first it didn’t come back that quickly- more muscle tends to take away from that wispy running feeling! and also we seemed to be focusing a lot on upper body strength.

Two weeks ago I raced in the Canmore Challenge- a grueling race that I don’t remember much of other then thinking around kilometer 1 that I paid $48.00 to torture myself, and lets me honest, it was a lot of fun in a really painful way! This race also served as the Canadian Mountain Running Championships to select the team to go to Worlds in Italy in September. We had just finished two weeks of tough training so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but this is the time of year to figure out how to get stronger and for me this was a perfect time to put into practice some mental toughness. We did two laps of 4.3km, the women took it out hard! We climbed higher then the World cup course at the Nordic centre and then came bombing down the ski trails to the bottom of the Nordic Centre and climbed the new Devonian Drop. I managed to tough it out for second place, but there was definetly no juice in the legs for a sprint finish and the girl who one had a gap of 45seconds, so all in all not too shabby, however I will say that running as a skier is not that fun! Any finesse and flow I had was replaced by muscling out the climbs and using sheer fitness for the flats and decents.

This week we have done two longer trail runs on two trails that I have never been on. We did a two hour below z1 run on the Highline trail. The first 6oom is a bit steep but then it flattens out into the most beautiful single track I have ever ran on! Talk about a fun trail and so easy on the legs. Today we did the who “orange loop” which is a mostly single track mountain bike loop at the Nordic Centre- they have done a ton of work on this trail since I last ran or rode on it and the lower section is super fun with some bridges, banked corners, steep decents and lots of roots!

I need to get a new camera so that I can post some photos of these wonderful mecca’s in my back yard!

If you getting bored of rollerskiing, put your running shoes on and head for some single track!

Brooke

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We have all heard the phrase “look after the little things” and most of the time we nod our heads in aggreement or understanding of what that phrase encompasses. Over the last two years since I have been a part of the Alberta World Cup Academy I have heard this on an on going basis and have indirectly been reminded of it everyday. Sometimes it causes me anxiety because when I do an account in my head it starts spinning so fast with everything I have been told to look after…and essentially all these little things are actually one big thing that can make or break you as an athlete. The other observation that I have made about these so called “little things” is that they don’t effect you until you are  at a race that matters the most. So I have compiled a list of the little thing I feel are important and also what I have been taught being on the Academy and also from observing athletes who can hold it together when it matters. Please feel free to add to this list as I think this is an important exercise for any high performance athlete.

In no particular order, here are some “little things”:

-SLEEP: rule of thumb, you need 8-9 hrs plus whatever you trained to recover properly. This is very important for women because this is the only time that you release growth hormones= recovery of muscles.

-FUEL: plan to eat 6-8 times a day. Breakfast should be well rounded, try different things to find what works for you- spend the time to figure this out, it is key, everyone is different! You also may need to vary this for intensity or races vs. an overdistance workout or strength. After training re-fuel with a liquid recovery mix for the quickest absorbtion (try different products to find what works for you, ask your teammates, coaches). Lunch should be one of your biggest meals, followed by a snack before your second training and then liquid recovery after your second training. Remember to bring a snack and sport drink for distance workouts and plan to bring recovery nutrition with you if you have to travel to and from training. Timing is key. Try to keep meals whole and well rounded- you need fruits and vegetables! if you don’t like them, take greens plus or an alternative!

-REST AND RECOVERY: Find out what works for you, sometimes this is a nap, sometimes this is reading, homework or crocheting :) . This is essential between workouts and between races. You need to find a way to decompress and let your body and mind chill out. This is the toughest one for me as I work and try to run errands.

-Plan your day and week: As an athlete or student athlete or athlete with children, time management is the key to performance and fitting in the little things. Plan your meals, plan your workouts, when you will shop, when you need to run into the city to get new rollerski wheels, when you need to get blood testing done, when you need to nap.

-Be Selfish: this year more then any other year has to be about “you”. Always ask yourself if a decision or action is helping you achieve your goal or not. Those closest to you will understand. You can’t be stretching yourself thin or trying to please everyone or saying yes to everyone- it costs a lot of energy and stress is very hard on the body!

-Find a good Doctor: At this point in the game you need to know whats happening in your body. This means knowing you are not low on anything. Find a doctor who can help with regular blood testing. Make sure you keep them up to date on how you are feeling and always ask questions.

-Stretch: This is so essential for recovery. The easiest ways I have found for stretching are the following: get a yoga pass- if you pay for it you have to go!, stretch for the duration of a half hour sitcom or other tv show, get a stretching group organized within your team- we tried this breifly last year and it definetly has potential.

-Massage: You need to budget 2 massages a month at the very least. Do some research and talk to other athletes about who they have seen and who they like. You don’t want to waste your money on blindly going to see a massage therapist that can’t go deep enough.

-Physiotherapy: Skiers are prone to overuse injuries. We are constantly on edge of pushing our bodies too far. Try to see someone once a month to ensure you have good mobilty and biomechanics, get them to give you strengthening and balancing exercises. We are all good had hammering, but sometimes taking time to re-align is a chore.

-Get a good Chiropractor: this one is up for debate I’m sure: if you like them, find one that works for you- we put our backs through the ringer for 11 months of the year and lets be honest a nordic skier usually doesn’t have supermodel posture.

-Supplements: A good coach will know phsyiologically what you need. Talk to them or talk to a doctor or sports doctor. Endurance athletes are usually depleting everything everyday, you need to be sure you are starting each day topped up and ready to go. You don’t want to feel tired for two months and find out it was because of low iron or low vit.D. This is another avenue to help you keep track of where you are at in training and feeling especially when there are a few months on your ilog that have feeling level of 3.

-Psychology: At this level everyone is as fit as the next. The one who will win is the one who can push past the pain for the longest. I would definetly suggest budgeting in a sport psychologist. They can help you get stronger and help you with race plans, strategy, imagery and overall well being.

-Support Network: Ensure that the people you have around you are “in the know”. Your family and true friends will understand where you are at and why you are going to bed at 9 or yawning at the bbq at 7. You want to feel comfortable in your circle, not that you have to stretch yourself out to maintain good relationships.

-Financial Stability: Nordic skiing in North America is a tough carear to get wealthy off of. It is getting better, but a lot of athletes struggle. Work on making your sponsorship package stellar, plan a few days to go and seek out sponsors, cold call companies, talk to other athletes who have had success with getting financial backing. If you want this to happen, you really have to make it happen. It takes work, people will not just hand you money, especially with the economy’s  current volitile state. You can also set up a meeting with your bank to talk to someone about budgeting and financial planning. Financial stress is just as much an energy drain as any other type of stress.

-Coach Relationship: An athlete needs to have 100% confindence in the coaches prescribed program and the coach needs to have 100% confidence in the athletes ability to recover and look after the little things to execute the program. Find out what works for you: email, phone, face time. Always ask questions, keep track of how you are feeling and how that fits into the period of training, be honest with your coach and speak up if you are not sure. You have to be proactive about the program.

-Equipment: Be prepared the night before a workout. Don’t show up with classic poles for a skating intensity because you left your skate poles in the team van. Make sure your pole tips are sharp. Show up with enough water and fuel for the workout. Show up early to wax skiis and be ready so you can get a quality warmup in.

-Pay attention and Observe: who are the fastest on the team, what do they do differently to get to that level (within reason). Pick their brain, ask questions and in harder workouts use them to bring you to the next level. If you are the fastest female use the boys for benchmarks. Don’t be afraid to go with the fastest athlete.

-Know the purpose of the workout: Each workout has a purpose. Pick two technique cues and then follow the plan. If it is a low z3 workout, go low z3. It is important to write this down in a book or in your training log, you need to have a quality workout!

-Balance: Staying happy and excited for training and racing is probabley the most important. Obviously it is tough to stay even-keel all the time when you are pushing your body so hard and you are constantly on hormonal peaks and valley’s. Take the time to make sure you have a good balance. Be aware of you happiness and ensure you have a balanced lifestyle.

Hopefully that  can help some of you. Obviously some people may not agree with all the points, but I encourage you to make your own check list!

happy training!

Brooke

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I saw a seal!!!

I also saw starfish- real live ones! I know, I know most of you are rolling your eyes, however, a seal and real starfish are two things I have never ever seen before- at least not in their natural habitat! These sitings were icing on the cake to an amazing weekend in Bellingham.

About 6 weeks ago I recived an email from the Boundary Bay Brewerey asking if I would like to do the “alpine leg” (or the uphill downhill) section of the relay team for their women’s team. Prior to the email I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t be invited back onto this team- this would be the 10th year running that the Brewery has won, so  I did have a little anxiety that they had found someone better!!

Our hosts, Janet and Ed were amazing, words cannot express how much fun and what an experience it always is to travel down to Bellingham. This year was no different!

For those who don’t know what the Ski to Sea is, its a relay race that has 6 legs: Cross Country Skier, Alpine Skier (that has to boot pack up the mountain), runner, road biker, canoe, mountain biker and kayaker. The whole town is in celebration of this event and the energy that surrounds it is hard to beat. This year there were 414 teams, Team Boundary Bay, an all women’s team finished 17th overall and earned the 10th first place in a row in the women’s field! Pretty exciting and I was so happy to be a part of that day!

Considering the team has a few Canadians on it, we had a little bit of trouble making it across the border as the officer asked Janet, our team captain a slew of crazy questions, including if she got us off of Craigslist!!! kind of funny!

Other then that, it was great to go exploring around the amazing town!

I definitely suggest a trip down that way for training, be sure to bring: a kayak, road bike, mountain bike, running shoes, and a sail boat. There is nothing you can’t do there!

have a great day!

Brooke

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Sara Hewitt, Kevin Sandau, Gord Jewett and Mike Cavaliere going over technique

The Academy travelled to Silverstar, BC for a week long on snow training camp.  Soverign Nordic did not disappoint! We had perfect ski conditions the whole camp, with even better skiing then we had in November.

The team size this year has increased to 20 athletes! It is a very diverse team ranging from athletes just starting their pursuit and diving into full time training to those who are approaching the pinnacle of their pursuit and hoping to make the Olympic Team.

Due to great snow conditions we were able to train all sessions on snow- it was definitely a little slushy in the afternoons, but it was good practice to ski in a variety of conditions. In addition, we were able to make use of the gym on Silverstar Mountain to continue with some adaptation exercises before we dive into our weight program. We did manage to make a few trips down to Vernon to enjoy the summer! I forgot how nice it was to sit on the grass and read or eat ice cream.

Later on in the week Terrell and I did a recovery run at one of the parks by the lake. It was absolutely amazing! This is my third year going to Silver Star in the spring and every year I am more energized by the idea that you can ski in the morning then go down and bike and run in +20 degrees (Celsius) along the lake.

The team is definitely a lot fitter as a whole then it was last year. It was great to watch the video from technique sessions to see the improvements. We also were able to get in a low zone 3 workout and a time trial. The time trial went well, I am pretty excited about where my fitness is right now and I am looking forward to building on it through out the summer. I think the same can be said for most of the athletes on the team.

Later today I’m heading out to Bellingham, Washington to compete in the Ski to Sea race for the Boundary Bay Brewery team!

Brooke

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I must apologize for the lack of updates for the last while.

The ski season came to an end for me on April 21. It was a long season, but I’m actually still feeling really good. If someone had asked me to race for another month I think I would have said yes, I would have been on autopilot, but my body seemed to be doing all right!

Lets see, I’ll start with the most recent events for now. I decided to go with the Burke Mountain Academy trip to Scandinavia for three weeks this April. The purpose of this trip for me was to gain experience. So after some fundraising efforts I jumped on a plane and headed for Stockholm. I left a day earlier then the rest of the group so I could go for a bit of a tour. The problem was that I didn’t make it past the shopping area! There is definetly a lot going on in that beautiful city! The next day I met the rest of the group at the Airport and we drove a few hours to Gavle, a beautiful port town home to Gavle coffe just north of Stockholm. The next day we drove up to Pitea where we would be racing a 3.3km prologue and a 10km classic pursuit race. Unfortunatly I was a little fatigued from travel and work before I left that I didn’t have the same effortless feeling I had been enjoying for the month of March, I felt more like I was swimming, not a good thing to feel if you are wanting to ski fast. However I think that both days woke my body up a bit and I started to feel better by the time we left Pitea. The course in Pitea was amazing! I love hills, so when we arrived at the race site I was pumped to see that we would be going up an alpine hill!

We did a long ski before we left for Finland on mostly single track trail that wound its way up the “escarpment” into the reforestation clearcuts, it was here we had our first reindeer experience! Sara and I saw 4 reindeer running down the ski trail- it was pretty awesome!

After Pitea we loaded up the skis and luggage (along with our slightly bruised egos…I know I felt very humbled after those races!) and headed for Finland. We would be racing in three towns along the Tornio river: Tornio, Pello and Yllas. Our home base was in Pello which had some amazing ski trails! The first race I was really excited for as I could feel my body coming back around into shape and I finished 5th in the 5km skate, the next day in Pello I finished 6th, but was definetly fighting tooth and nail for that result, Yllas was a learning experience and I found out why you have to be prepared and organized and above all focussed and ready to race- if you don’t do all those things in Europe you will leave the site extremely dissapointed. Most of us were happy to leave Finland as the weather wasn’t really cooperating with our “spring skiing holiday” mentality. So we drove for 13hours to Bruksvallarna.

Bruksvallarna is quite possibley the most amazing ski destination I have ever been. Our hotel, the Walles Hotel was situated part way up one of the Valley mountains and had ski trails 10m from our door step, coupled with amazing food and great company, I’m not sure life gets any better! The next morning we were all excited to explore the trails, so Sara, Liza and our Swedish tour guide Erik headed out for some phenomenal crust skiing. I had no idea you could ski EVERYWHERE!! Most of the trail system is above the tree line, so you can just zoom around the mountains- its a pretty surreal feeling! I definetly didn’t want to stop skiing that day, in fact I think if I was out there any longer I would have pulled over to join someone in their sun pit and have a bbq!

The races in Bruksvallarna were a lot of fun. I loved that it was a festival and sort of a end of the year celebration, it kept the energy around the trails high! The 26km mass start started in the town of Bruksvallarna and then gradually went to the base of the ski hill. From there we went straight up for 3km! It was AMAZING. At the top of the course there was a sprint preem and I lost focus for just a bit and lost the pack- I think I was still in a bit of shock that I could actually ski with the lead group! From there it was a mix of gradual downhill which actually felt like it was flat or uphill because the snow was transforming on the middle of the track where skiers had gone over it and then there was cold dry powder=slow! on the sides, so you had to just keep pushing in one-skate and two-skate even on the downhills!

The next day was the skier cross. Now, I have to mention I am a menace on the downhills on a good day, so the prospect of me actually doing some “extreme skiercross” event was unlikely. None-the-less I needed to improve my confidence and entered anyway. The morning of the race we woke up to highwinds and cold temperatures. Sara, Liza and I skied up to where the start would be, but there was no one there, so we put on our helmuts (that you HAVE to rent…that should have been my first clue of what I was getting myself into!) and skied down the mountain. Because of the wind and cold the trail was super fast and icy, but with ruts from the melt-freeze and it hadn’t been re-groomed, I snowplowed for what seemed like forever and decided right then that I wasn’t going to do the race. Turns out it was a good decision, as we worked our way down the course there were trees wrapped in padding and kids flying by at crazy speeds. So instead I snowplowed through the “glades” with my helmut on…kind of a funny picture! Three girls with white helmuts with snowflakes on them “tree skiing” on cross country skiis…it was a perfect way to end the season!

It was a great trip and I strongly urge other skiiers to take this opportunity again if comes up. Pete Philips did a phenomenal job of planning the trip for us, there would be no way we swedenteam2could have done it alone!getting ready for the skiercross

Enjoy the photos, most were taked by Sara Hewitt, Liza Goodwin and Erik Neillson

ciao,

Brooke

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August Update

I t has been a while since I last updated this blog. I had mentioned I would post pictures from our over distance workouts a few weeks ago, but I had forgot my camera on those days and thus, had no photos.

We just finished a pretty intense volume block- it actually finishes tomorrow. It has been an interesting few weeks to say the least. We started off with some bigger days and then mixed in some max strength which was interesting. As I’ve said before I haven’t really been on a periodized weight program, so I am always slightly on the hesitant side when we are in the gym. Unless of course it involves a form of shape magazine core! I got to test out my new found pipes (yes, I have some bumps in the region of biceps!) on the uphill double pole test and managed to smash my own record by over a minute. Again, it’s pretty sweet to improve, but I must say I was pretty blown away when the results were in. We were on the same skis as in May, and the pavement was definitely warmer so that played a factor for sure, but overall I am pretty happy with that improvement.

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A few weeks ago I read Devon Kershaw’s blog regarding his feelings towards the uphill time trial in Canmore. It wasn’t until today that some of his points definitely resonated quite clearly!

Most of the AWCA athletes have had this day on our plans for over a month and although I tried to avoid eye contact with it- I inevitably ended up in a stare down with it over the last three days. Its kind of funny because really, its the first week of August and its an uphill skate time trial where a ton of variables can come into play. Frankly, its just an intensity, another opportunity to push yourself and get stronger, fitter and faster. However, due to the fact that every skier in Canmore, if not most in Canada have at some point over their ski carrear got into a start position at the intersection of Three Sisters and Rundle Drive and picked their best line through the first 50m of pebbles that could make you remember their name (we all have the scars from at least one) this test becomes a little more then just an intensity. Every skier is well aware of how fast the other can climb that hill- its a right of passage of sorts in Canmore. And regardless of the fact that its a summer, uphill rollerski test- I still get ridiculously nervous for it!

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This past weekend I raced on a 5-women team in the 24 Hours of Adrenalin at the Canmore Nordic Centre. The registration for this event sold out in two days last year! I was honored to be asked to be a part of this team, as the other four girls are phenomenal athletes and I didn’t want to be the weakest link.

The race started at 12 noon on Saturday and ended at 12 noon on Sunday. My focus was to recover properly between each leg, and also to make sure I wasn’t going to dig myself into a hole for ski training, especially coming off a big volume week a week before.

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