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Generell Treningsfilosofi

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Another week has flown by (plus a few days) and I’m now writing from home sweet home Minnesota. The training camp in Lake Placid with the national team was great—good training, excellent company, and reasonable weather. Yesterday, I tested my triathlon ability in a local race, the Timberman Triathlon. I surprised a few people, including myself, and won the sprint course competition. There’s a photo of me below on the way into the bike-run transition. Anyway, on to the meat of this post—“General training philosophies” of the Norwegian training model.

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Again, I feel that discussing Norwegian training is best done in reference to the experiences I had before traveling to Norway, which included a detailed and structured training plan created by the coach for the training group I was participating with—both in college and in Minnesota. In each situation, training plans had morning and afternoon sessions that I followed dutifully with not too much thought as to how they were formulated.

This “show up and train” mentality, if I can call it that, was challenged as soon as I got to Norway. I still remember my first workout with Team Statkraft Lillehammer, a roller-ski and shooting workout, where I asked the coach, Tobias, “What do you want me to do today?” I received a blank star and he said something like, “um… don’t you have something to work on? We are having easy skiing and shooting today…” There was nothing specific about how long the workout should be or how much I should shoot—simple things I’m usually told. After a somewhat confusing and frustrating workout, I launched myself into the encyclopedia that is Norwegian training.

From that point on I realized that planning on my behalf needed to play a larger role. At least in regard to the structure of easy trainings—intensity trainings were planed along with other time-trials or tests. This caused a greater thought process in choosing workouts, as well as asks the question, “What works for me?”

With my team this past year, there were between three and four important team workouts planned per week, and athletes were responsible to fill in exercises they felt focused on important aspects for the time of year (volume, strength, specificity, intensity, shooting, etc.). The coach always gave some input as to how your training should be modified or how to approach weaknesses that need addressing. I also should mention that training camps took place each month for one week—common for Norway. In these situations training was planned in detail.

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Team training in Beitostølen

You might be asking, what are the ideas that make up the Norwegian training model? Isn’t that what I should be talking about? Valid point. However, just like here in the US, there are many different ideas/mentalities for training and I feel that considering the “Norwegian model” as a single frame of mind is close-minded and one-dimensional. There are many ways to turn a skier into a champion.

Stephen Sneider does a good job describing the basic ideas behind the Norwegian training methods in his article XC Endurance Training Theory – Norwegian Style. I agree with Stephen in that each week (on average) is structured around two interval sessions. That is, training outside of these interval sessions should enable a skier to execute the interval sessions with a high amount of focus (i.e. not tired from a strenuous workout the day before). Subsequent posts will discuss this more and other training topics.

So, the general Norwegian philosophies in my opinion are that athletes should remain fairly independent and free thinking—free to formulate his or her training into something they feel will provide success (a great reason to keep a detailed training log as well as dig up old training logs and look into what worked!). But with direction provided by a coach. The idea behind this is that each individual has a different recipe for improvement, and the best way to find that recipe is to allow athletes to think somewhat independently.

Secondly, I also want to mention that coaching in Norway is structured in a way where it really feels like the coach is working along with athletes. They seem to remain open to different ideas, but will make sure workouts are done in a professional way. Anything that looks out of place or needs improvement, they will not hesitate to discuss with you.

In my opinion, this independence is something to be strived for here in the U.S., but is unattainable for younger athletes simply because the knowledge base of ski training isn’t so readily available and it is difficult to observe top-level racers in training. Plus it’s hard to be independent especially if there are only a few competitive racers in the local community.

Finally, I’ll add that there is no excuse for hard work. To make it to the international level in Norway, a person needs to be among the best in the world. Therefore, Norwegians train like the want to make it to the top—a level that is readily observed. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, Petter Northug trained 920 hours last year!

Er du klar for NM i skiskyting?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The end of the season draws near here in Norway, but before we can pack it in there is still one more big race series to be had. Remembering back to the start of the season during the second week of November, I can confidently say that this has been the longest and most competitive season ever! Tomorrow starts the Norwegian Biathlon Championships here in Lillehammer, and the only question left to ask is, “are you ready?”

The last biathlon races I had were up in Folldal—the same small town where I began my adventures here in Norway—at the final Norwegian Cup/Vital Cup. The races had some low points and some high ones, but overall I’m fairly satisfied with my performance. The weekend started out with a 10km sprint race on Friday in which I managed to hit all ten targets—perfect shooting! This marks the first time this year with perfect shooting and the third time in my life. Unfortunately, my skiing speed was fairly poor and I had some equipment difficulties on the range, which cost about a minute. So I still ended up four minutes back from Stian Eckhoff, a famous Norwegian who has won a World Cup.

The 12.5km Pursuit race the next day didn’t go all that much better. My skiing remained sluggish and the shooting wasn’t where it should have been. Anyway, I missed a total of 5 targets and had a time on the day 3 min back from Stian.

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Zeroing before the race

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Birkebeinerrennet 2009

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Over a week has passed since I crossed the finish line in the 72nd Birkebeinerrennet, so I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on the race and recover enough to have the desire to come back next year to have another go. This was my first ever Birkebeiner race and what better way to start than to do the real thing in Norway carrying a 3.5kg backpack symbolizing the young king Haakon!

Race day started out quite early—3:45am. This wake-up time was required in order to catch the 4:30am bus from Lillehammer to Rena. I tried to get some sleep on the two-hour bus ride, but I was already a bit excited making sleep next to impossible. Once at the starting area, I tested my wax and made sure I had enough water and energy gels to get me through the day.

I was seeded into the elite wave from my finish in the Madshus Ski Marathon earlier this year. Because of my elite placement, I donned the only appropriate ski suit for such an occasion… the Purple Cow! I was proud to be the only distinguishable (Topher!!) Purple Cow in the field of roughly 14,000. However, I did get some funny looks from some Norwegians—especially the young ones. Needless to say, my family commented that it was easy to pick me out from the crowd of approaching skiers.

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Me passing through Sjusjøen (photos by Janna Johnson)

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VM i Liberec og Hovedlandsrennet

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Watching the World Championships this year along with the Norwegians provided me with a new perspective on the sport of skiing—and in saying ‘skiing’ I’m including all the different disciplines: downhill, cross-country, jumping, and Nordic combined. All in all, the Norwegian media did a great job showing all the winter sports without stressing any single event or discipline to the extent of overshadowing another. Put together, the championships felt like it had a greater competitive spirit, which in my opinion carried some similarity to the Olympic games.

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Madshus Skimaraton

Monday, February 16th, 2009

This past weekend was full of sporting events to watch and to compete in here in Lillehammer. It all started on Saturday morning with the opening races of the Biathlon World Championships in Pyeongchang, Korea, which turned out to be a historic day for the Norwegians (their four starters placed 1-4).  Later that day I went outdoors for a sunny extra-blue classic ski to watch the World Rally Championships take place on the roads in and around Lillehammer.  On Sunday, I completed my first ski marathon, which was the longest race of my life thus far. So yeah, it was a great weekend. Below is a picture of my teammates and I at the start of the race.

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Sammendrag av IBU Cupene i Altenberg og Nove Mesto

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

The IBU Cups in Altenberg, Germany, and Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, were a blast to participate in and gave me the experience of seeing and competing with some of the best in the sport—something I’ve definitely been getting a taste of in Norway, but not in the shear number of competitors that were present at these races. This was also a fun time to connect again with athletes from home that I hadn’t seen in a while.

The US IBU cup team with our hosts in Altenberg–from bottom left: Tracy Barnes, Laura Spector, Carolyn Bramante, Russel Currier, Mark Johnson–back row from left: Sara Studebaker, Susan Dunklee, Zach Hall, Gary Colliander

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Jeg er i Altenberg, Tyskland

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Well, “I’m in Altenberg Germany” now along with the rest of the US team as we prepare for our first race tomorrow at the IBU cup. All has gone well thus far and I can’t wait to start racing. We have a nice place to stay, great coaches and wax techs, and the weather looks great for the weekend too! It has also been fun to connect again and brush up on my language skills with some of the Norwegians. Tomorrow’s race is the 20km Individual race that has four shooting stages. Each miss will be an expensive one-minute penalty. Sunday’s race is the 10km Sprint with two shooting stages.

The last time I raced for the US team was last season at Junior World Championships. Those races were a bit daunting at times due to the fact that I had other priorities with school and my training hadn’t been as specific. This year it definitely feels different, most likely due to my training and racing experiences in Norway, but also probably due somewhat to becoming a senior and no longer being protected by an age class. In spirit, I feel more confident and relaxed, which is definitely a welcomed feeling. We’ll see how things go this weekend, but I’m sure it’s going to be fast and fun.

Here are a couple photos from Geising, a small town close to where we are staying…

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God Jul!

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

“Merry Christmas!” It’s great to be home for the holidays and to catch up with friends and family. Since my last post, I have been busy with a week of qualifying races at Mt. Itasca, taking a final exam for Lillehammer College, and enjoying all the fresh snow that we’ve received here in Minnesota.

Brian Olson and I dueling for the win of the Pursuit

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Sesongåpningen i Beitostølen

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Even though it felt normal to switch to snow skiing almost three weeks ago, I’m still a little taken aback that it is only the middle of November. One year ago I was frantically finishing up my midterms and gearing up to travel to West Yellowstone for the first skiing of the year. Instead, I’m already finished one of the bigger races her in Norway—the annual “season opening in Beitostølen.”

This past weekend will definitely be a highlight of my time here in Norway. It was hard to believe that so many good skiers came together, both retired and active, to be a part of the season opening. To name a few, I saw Raphael Poiree testing skies for the Norwegian national team, Emil Helge Svendsen and Lars Berger on the shooting range, and Thomas Alsgaard broadcasting for NRK (something similar to ESPN, only the Norwegian version). Being continually surrounded by world-class skiers and biathletes, which is unquestionably an eye-opener, undoubtedly is a motivator and makes me look forward to the rest of the season. Feel free to check out some photos from Beitostølen in the photo-album.

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Beitostølen

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

When the word gets out that there is skiing in Sjusjøen, people seem to come from everywhere in the hope of getting some early season skiing. Today, I woke up at six in the morning and quick ate some breakfast before driving up to the Sjusjøen ski center. By getting up early, my teammates and I hoped to find some good tracks with fewer people, and we did, but by eight in the morning the 5km of trails were already packed with skiers. Among the skiers were the national teams from Germany, Slovenia, Austria, and of course Norway.

In addition to busy trails, I seem to have become much more busy with the coming of snow. This past week has been full of training, school, waxing skis, and organizing for another training camp with Team Statkraft, which starts tomorrow. This time we are headed to Beitostølen, which is a small town to the northwest of Lillehammer. Our training camp will culminate with some of the biggest races of the year. The races will be televised all over Norway. I know it is only the beginning of November, but these races will decide the European Cup and World Cup teams for the Norwegians. So for many of my friends and teammates, this is a very important time. The first race on Saturday will be a sprint, and the second race on Sunday a mass start. To have the opportunity to mass start with the Norwegian national team will be great and, of course, very fast. Wish me luck ;-)

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