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Wild Rumpus Sports
 

Tips for Master Skiers

Last Thanksgiving, I received an email forwarded through FasterSkier asking if I would write advice for another older athlete with kids and a full time job. I have received a couple similar requests over the years, and I keep thinking that I will make a blog post about this soon, rather than trying to respond to individuals. I have started the post a couple of times – maybe this is the version I will actually finish.

1. Train every day. This is really the most important part of getting and staying in shape. And for many, it is the hardest. Now, a day off here and there is a good thing, so – like any advice you receive, particularly from me – take it with a grain of salt. But as a parent with a full time job, there is almost always a reason to take a day off: family obligations, work obligations, exhaustion from an unplanned late night, a chance for a night out with your spouse… Every once in a while, this is truly necessary, but if you approach life with the attitude that not training is not an option, it is amazing how well and how often you can train.
2. Have a wonderful spouse. My wife does and always has supported me in many ways, among them that she does not consider it an option for me not to train. When we make plans, she puts just as much concern into when I will train as I do.
Of course, having a wonderful spouse requires being a great spouse, and so I always try to be this. I work hard to communicate with my wife about when I will be racing and training, and to adjust as needed. I do my best, when returning from a long hard workout, to shower quickly and start doing my share around the house (or, in the summer, I schedule hard workouts for days when my wife and kids are doing something else so that I can get home and be useless alone).
Finally, my wife has run a couple of marathons and a bunch of half marathons and I do my best to support her training for these events just as much as she supports me.
3. Recover well. I know I just said to train every day and not take time to yourself when you get done, but at some point you need to recover. Mostly this means getting a good night’s sleep and good nutrition. It also means that you should pay attention to your recovery level before planning intervals and overdistance.
4. Use your weekends. If, like most people, you work Monday to Friday, you have more flexibility on the weekends. And while you may have fun things to do with your family, you probably have time to sneak in a longer training session or one good set of intervals – maybe even both in one weekend.
5. Expect uneven results. Whether you are a former high-level competitor or someone who discovered endurance sports late in life, it is easy to believe that following the above advice should make you fast, and that if you focus on a particular race, you should be able to do well there. My experience at least, is that this is not the case. I have had some very successful seasons, and some much less successful seasons, often on basically the same training. I have had early season success that defied any reasonable explanation followed by late season races I tried to peak for that went disastrously. Once in a while, I have had great results when I planned to, but more often, my really good results have been as much a surprise to me as to anyone else.
6. Balance your training. Skiing fast requires endurance, technique, strength, power, and mental toughness. You need to make sure that your training builds each of these things. An optimal training program includes a lot of distance training, some overdistance, some intervals, some strength, and some racing. In an ideal world, you will get some of each of the first four every week, and one or two races a month. You will have to look elsewhere for the details of how to break these down, though, because my last piece of advice will be the same as the first:
7. Train every day. Train because it makes you fitter, because it relieves stress, because if makes you happier and more productive. Train in the hope that you will be fast, and achieve whatever goals you have set for yourself. But if there is a secret to my success, other than my genetics, it is that as much as I love to win, I love to race even more. And I much as I love to race, I love to train even more. And if you approach you athletic career with this attitude, you will be successful by the metrics that truly matter, and likely successful on the results sheets as well.

Okay, I don’t know that this is finished, but it is the third attempt in six months and I don’t think it’s getting any better. I welcome comments and further questions.

A Not-So-Triumphant Return to the Track

On Friday night I competed in a track meet for the first time in more than 18 years. The last time I was at a track meet I set two PRs – one in the hammer (101’3″) and one in the 400 (57.5) – I was actually drafted at the last minute to rabbit the 800. How all that came to be is a story for another time. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on my return, but it actually felt quite familiar. Despite being in another country, and being alone, the feeling of being at a track meet is very much the same. There was the rush of adrenaline every time the gun went off to start another heat, the nervousness of checking out the competition, the frustration with the meet being a bit behind schedule. And about that schedule – the 5000 m was schedule to start…

January Track Workout

I doubt my blog silence has been noticed by many, what with Nationals going on, not to mention three U.S. women on podiums in different stages of the Tour de Ski, but it seems I do still have a blog! I was home in New Hampshire for three weeks, and got to see lots of family and friends. And despite the weather (Kris and I summitted Sandwich Dome on Christmas Day, and there was no white stuff to be seen) I managed to get in about 20 hours on snow. Now that I am back in Holland, this has given me the answer to a question I have had for some time: just how many days of all skiing does it take before the return to running is all sore muscles and excruciating pain? Turns out the answer is somewhere south of 10 days Anyway, sore – and jetlagged –…

Technique Drills

I know this blog is on a skiing website, and I know that this is the time of year when a lot of readers (if I have a lot of readers) might be looking for some technique drills to get ready for the upcoming ski season. I don’t think this is the post for them (but it might be. You’ve come this far, so why not keep reading?) This is a post about technique drills for running. It is not a post I ever thought I would write, as I have always been skeptical of any attempt to dictate running form. My experience over the past couple of months at my running club, however, has changed my mind. In particular, this week I considered not going to the weekly track workout, as I have been nursing a hip injury. But I went. I felt my hip a little during the…

Dam tot Damloop

Okay, WordPress has eaten this post twice. The most brilliant prose I have ever written, and it is gone (as far as you know). Here are the highlights: The Dam tot Damloop in Amsterdam has 48,000 participants. The winning time was 45:19. I was 30th, 28th man, 2nd over 35, in 52:05. The Dutch have outdoor, semi-enclosed urinals at there races which makes the line at the port-a-johns a lot shorter. Near the start of the race I ran for over a kilometer through a tunnel under the canal. That was kind of cool (not least because in created a small hill on which I made crazy amounts of time on the Dutch runners who really can’t handle the least hint of an incline).

Running in Holland

I still don’t have internet at my house here so this may be a short post. But I am getting running figured out – who needs internet or a cell phone or food that your youngest child can eat when you know the closest track and a good trail for long runs? Anyway, I found both of those last two things. It is about a 9 km bike ride to the track owned by Leiden Atletiek, a club I may end up joining. They have a beautiful and well-maintained eight lane outdoor track. I did ride about 18 km yesterday just to get there, as I did not remember exactly where the track was. And no one I asked even knew there was a track in the area – which is no surprise given that the track is hidden with residential neighborhoods on one side and a big urban woods…

July

Wow! Blogging has been slow this month. So I will make a quick summary. I raced Loon Mountain a few weeks ago. I had an unremarkable race to end up third. I like to think that I could have at least scared Ryan Kelly for second place (instead of being a minute back) but I didn’t, and Josh Ferenc was untouchable another 20 seconds up. And last week I raced the Bill Luti, bringing home my third title in that race with another so-so effort: a younger runner led me through the mile in 5:00, and then dropped like a rock even as I had a lousy second mile up the hill. The big event of the month was running the Pemi Loop with Kris. We have both had our eyes on this ~33 mile loop with ~10,000 feet of vertical for many years, and finally decided to go for…

Mt Washington

I have been slow to report on the Mt Washington road race, but it is still worth writing about. In many ways it was actually a boring race. I went out hard on the first couple hundred meters of flat, sharing the lead, fell to 11th when the climb started, and passed about one person per mile until I reached four miles. Just past mile five, former winner Rickey Gates passed me back, and so I finished in 8th place. I was 30 seconds behind Rickey at the finish, and almost a minute ahead of 9th place, so there just wasn’t much drama (unlike last year, where I passed Dan Princic in the final minute). It was, however, a great day. I ran up the hill in 1:05:55, a little over 30 seconds under my previous best. I have been pretty tired the last couple days in a way that…

Racing Up, Racing Down, and Moving

So usually if a race is a week old I figure there is not point in blogging about it. But I am going to today, because I have an excuse… Anyway, I raced the Pack Monadnock 10 miler last Sunday. I raced this three years ago, losing to Brandon Newbould in the final climb (the course climbs about 1800 feet, half in the last two miles). This year I entered with elaborate contingency plans should I be racing any of several potential rivals, but none of them showed up. I had a 20 second lead by two miles, over a minute by seven miles, and earned an easy four-minute victory. Then I went home to work on packing up my house. The next day my nephew and I moved all of our furniture and most of our boxes. On Thursday, in addition to more moving-related tasked, I did the downhill…

Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

With my impending move to the Netherlands, I have decided that this is definitely the time to get in as much mountain running as I can while it is still an option. The flat courses in my future could be good for PRs, but this weekend I drove up to Sleepy Hollow for the kickoff of that USATF mountain running series. I was a little confused about the course and ended up running the middle of three loops for my warmup, when I had hoped to run the final loop. This had no effect on the outcome of the race, nor did the fact that I expected Josh Ferenc, the defending champion who is running more and more ultras, to take the race out slow, and so I arrived at the line having run a fairly relaxed warmup. Maybe after running ultras this race feels like a 100 yard dash…