December 1st, 2008
There are only two days between me and the first race of the season, a 15k Individual (5 loops of 3k with four shooting bouts, 1-minute penalty for each miss). This race is both highly dependent on running speed because there is a lot of time to be gained or lost over 15 kilometers, as well as on shooting, because a one-minute penalty for a missed shot that takes a mere 2 seconds to set up can be detrimental to a well-skied race.
With limited time remaining, we’re putting the final touches on our physical training and shooting skills. I’ve come to the conclusion, after much trial and error, that in the days leading up to a race I should keep my routine as typical of the rest of the year as possible. This means that I don’t spend an extra half-hour dryfiring the night prior, I don’t shoot extra rounds in the range, and I don’t cut back too much on training. At a recent team meeting, my coach Per spoke to us about having the confidence to continue to incorporate distance training even while we are within a very tough three-week period (9 races in 18 days). Our bodies are accustomed to training twice a day with three to four intensity sessions per week and they have built up a resilience and tolerance to withstand it, as we no doubt discover during the summer and fall. As long as we keep the pace easy, he said, we should not be afraid to go for a long ski on days when we’re not racing and head to the weight room at least once a week. In regards to shooting, everyone treats this a little differently. I am of the experience that I can “burn out” from too much shooting, which is why I limit myself to no more than 30 minutes of dryfiring a day and definitely don’t shoot every day of the week. Otherwise, I will quickly lose my focus and may, tragically, approach the range with the attitude that if I miss a shot this time, I’ve got 5 more clips to give myself a chance to clean. A strategy that we adopted last year in training was to actually decrease the number of clips shot at training to mimic race day, because in a race you only get two to four chances to clean so there’s no room for finding your zone, you have to be IN IT. If there is something specific you need to work on, such as holds or follow-through, you can shoot a few extra clips or save it for dryfiring, but every clip you shoot should have a very specific purpose.
As far as the tracks go, I actually wasn’t out there today because I had a day off from training (spent cleaning my rifle, picking up bananas and cinnamon to spice up the daily oatmeal at the store, and napping). Yesterday we had a short interval session, four times 1.5k at race pace. It took me a few laps…three to be exact, to loosen up my legs to enable them to move at race tempo. This tells me that I need to include a solid 15 minutes of higher paced skiing in my warm-up, something I also found worked very well for me last year. Reflecting on my recent injuries and not-quite-complete recovery from them, you may not understand how appreciative I was of that burning feeling flooding my legs that was in fact fresh lactic acid and not muscular tendonitis. We had gotten (estimated) 6 inches of snow, which was being packed by snowmobiles as the course was too busy for the groomer to be out (recall that we ski on closed 2-4k long loops), so conditions were slower than usual. It’s supposed to stay cold, however (down to -14C for our race on Thursday) so hopefully the snow will get set up a little more. Tomorrow we have a short pre-race time trial scheduled, then easy combos the following day.