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Wild Rumpus Sports


I turned 37 this month. On my birthday, my coach told me that since passing my prime years I had done a decent job of maintaining my fitness. Then he told me that I had entered a new phase where I would no longer be able to maintain my physical conditioning and that I would literally wake up every morning just a little bit worse off than I was the day before. The positive news was that I had a huge fitness base to watch erode away and that I can remain at an elite level for a few more years. If that sounds incredibly mean and insensitive you should never work with my coach. I like the (tongue in cheek) straight story and that it why I have worked with him for most of my career.

One of the surest signs of age has been the decrease in my resting and maximal heart rate. The software I use to monitor my recovery while I sleep can't record my actual HR which is regularly below 30 and dips as low as 25 beats per minute. My maximal HR has gone from 205 when I was 21 years old to 180. However actually achieving my maximum HR is much more difficult than it was when I was younger.

In my early 20's getting my HR over 200 was as easy as running up a hill as hard as I could. Now I have to coax my body into letting my heart work that hard with the proper warm-up and gradual build in pace. Two weeks ago I did 6 x 5 minutes bounding up some nasty terrain. I thought getting my HR into the high 170's would be a no brainer. I ran for 40 minutes with ten minutes at lactate threshold. Then I started my first interval and easily hit 168 at the top of my course. I picked up the pace for the 2nd, and hit 170 beats. Unfortunately my legs were already loaded with lactate and I was hurting. The pain I was in felt disproportionate to the HR I had just put up, but I started my third rep. I was faster but my HR peaked at 168. Number four was the same pace and HR and then I started going backwards. The harder I pushed, the more my legs loaded and the slower I felt like I was going. My pace slipped and I only hit 164 beats despite being doubled-over at the top. I dug even deeper for rep 6 and got up to 166 HR and didn't lose any more time. However I had enough lactate in my legs that it felt like it was creeping into my stomach and I had a strong urge to vomit which I managed to avoid.

I had clearly not paced this intensity session very well. Had this been a race day the result would have been poor as my best races all have produced high maximal HRs. My coach and I surmised that I had loaded my muscles too much early in the session and that in order to get the most out of my body I needed to start with lighter and poppier motions that would allow me to use my circulatory system more readily. Then I could add more power as the workout progressed.

Today I repeated the bounding interval session with an emphasis on quick light motions that preserved my major muscles for later in the workout. The pacing strategy was successful with maximal HRs in the high 160s low 170s for the first three intervals and the mid to high 170's for intervals 4-6. My peak HR (178) actually came in interval 4 but I was able to complete the final two intervals five seconds faster with HRs running 1-2 beats lower.

Getting older is tricky and relearning the same tasks could be frustrating but fortunately I have a coach that understands the aging progression. He isn't going to hold my hand through the process, but fortunately I much prefer brutal honesty and enlightened counsel to sweet nothings.

Great Interviews

Noah Hoffman recently interviewed the CEO of USSA, Tiger Shaw, and the Vice President of Athletics, Luke Bodensteiner. Noah asked revealing questions that both Tiger and Luke answered with surprising openness. I have many disagreements with USSA strategies but I always have respect for direct communication. In my opinion Luke and Tiger were extremely forthright in these interviews which is a welcome change from the opaque answers that their subordinates often use to camouflage controversial policies. Both interviews are about 50 minutes long but nearly all of the questions are pointed and the answers are informative. For better or for worse, listening to these interviews gave me a clearer understanding of where XC skiing fits into USSA’s priorities. I highly recommend listening. Luke Interview Tiger Interview

Tough or Stupid

At its most basic, training is stressing the body in a specific way to make the body adapt and become stronger. Stressing the body is often not a pleasant experience. Maximal interval sessions are painful by nature, over distance workouts are intended to deplete the body beyond what is normal, and weather and outside forces always have the potential to make workouts more difficult. I have been training between 700-1000 hours annually for the last 18 years. The consistency of my training relies on my willingness to get the work done despite fatigue, minor injury, and inhospitable weather. Pushing through minor obstacles is proof of dedication and toughness. However there is a line between tough and stupid that I have always had a tendency to cross. This line could also be described as a barrier of diminishing or even negative returns. Even when my body or the climate has been…

Stelvio II

Training has continued to go very well on the Stelvio glacier. The MWSC, Noah, and I are staying at the Livrio Hotel at the foot of the glacier which allows us to ski out the door each day. Though isolated it is easy to take the tram down to our van and drive down to lower altitudes and civilization. Here are some pictures of me running through Bormio. href=””> The food is better than one would expect at 10,000 feet but only three meals a day is a little light for xc skiers putting in up to five hours of training a day. Will Sweetser has been making frequent trips to the grocery store so that we can have five meals. I’m pretty sure that Noah has been eating about half of the food that Will buys for the six athletes he is supporting. I witnessed him eating an entire…


I am currently training on a glacier in Stelvio Italy. The training loop is about 5k long with the high point at an elevation of 10,900 feet. The air is thin up here but the skiing has been good so far. I was on multigrade hardwax for both of my classic sessions and my skate skis were gliding fast on the Fischer P1-1 grind. The visibility has been hit or miss but the sky is supposed to clear soon. I have never trained this high for an extended period and I was curious about how the high altitude would affect my insulin sensitivity. My altitude experience has been limited to traveling from sea level to as high as 7000 feet. When I have transitioned to these altitudes in the past I have always had to up my insulin doses by at least 20%. I speculate that my body treats the…

Ride Aroostook

This Weekend I drove back up to Presque Isle Maine to take part in the Ride Aroostook bike tour which benefits the children’s diabetes program “Camp Adventure.” I have worked with this camp on two occasions, going for a downriver canoe and participating in a run and shoot biathlon relay race. I was impressed with the organization and ambition of the camp. Ride Aroostook is a two day bike tour that is advertised as being 150 miles total (by my measurement it was 62 miles the first day and 70 the second). I decided that it would be fitting for me as an Olympic skier and type 1 diabetic to roller-ski the event in order to drum up more donations and draw more attention to Camp Adventure. I skated the first day and really enjoyed the well marked course that hugged river beds and meandered through rolling potato fields. The…

Top Notch Triathlon

I raced the Top Notch Triathlon in Franconia NH this morning. The unique race starts with a six mile uphill Mt Bike. This is followed with a half mile swim across Echo lake to the base of Cannon Mt. The last leg is a run/scramble up the alpine trails to the summit. I set the course record for this race with a 1:06:05 in 2006. That year the course was dry as a bone and the Mt bike was ripping fast. This summer has seen more rainfall than I can ever remember in New England. For good measure there was a long thunder shower last night that completely saturated the trail. Setting a new record in the muddy conditions was going to be a tall order. Fortunately another very talented competitor, Ryan Kelly, raced today and we pushed each other hard. Ryan is a more practiced and technically better rider…

Busy July

In late June I wrapped up my first training camp in Maine with a 5k running race. I broke 16:00 for the first time since the year 2004 with a 15:53. Not blazing fast but still a good indication that things are going well. Since then my summer has gotten very busy. Over the past eight years I have been visiting summer camps for kids with diabetes all around the country. I share the story of my diagnosis and career with them in the hopes that they will not let the disease deter them from their dreams and goals in life. I find the advocacy work very rewarding so I planned to visit 10 camps over course of five weeks. I planned the disruption into my training in the Spring so I have only scheduled 75 training hours for July. I am not allowed to post pictures of the campers…

Great Camp in Maine

My first camp of the year in Maine is nearly over. It has been very well supported and I have gotten some good quality sessions in. I did some L3 kayak intervals with Will Sweetser on the Aroostook river. I also did a 100 mile road bike zig zagging my way from Presque Isle to Fort Kent. It was really nice to have a support van for the entire ride. This morning I went for a two hour double pole with Welly, Sam Tarling, and two junior team members. I will take advantage of the pool at the University of Maine Presque Isle and put in some laps for today’s second session.

On Track

Training in New Hampshire has gone very well so far this Spring. I have hit all of my goals for the first six weeks of training. Admittedly training goals are the easiest to hit at this time of year but none the less. Sunday I head up to Presque Isle for my first training camp away from my condo in NH. It will mark a change in focus towards more specificity. I will be thirty-three years old in October, but my body still responds very fast to training and I have been recovering quickly from a fairly high load. I have been looking over my last several years of racing and my last two seasons have been subpar. However in 2011/2012 I scored the most world cup points of my career. Being only two years removed from what could arguably be called my best season, I believe that my best…