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Archive for September, 2011

Training Camps – Rad Stuff

Monday, September 5th, 2011

I think it’s an established fact that training camps are awesome. I don’t think there is anyone in skiing who thinks that training camps suck. Look at the World Cuppers camps – the Canucks have been to Hawaii, Alaska, and Bend, Oregon. Kikkan Randall and Liz Stephen have chilled in Sweden with Emil Joensson and Anna Haag.

For me, training camps are as integral to cross country skiing as snow, kick wax, and snotty noses.

Throughout my brief stint as a junior racer as well as University journeyman, I had numerous opportunities to enjoy camps both in my home city and away, and they were without continuously one of the highlights of my season (if it was a crappy season, the only highlight of my season, but let’s not digress).

For those who have never been to a training camp, you’re missing out. And here’s why.

First off, it’s not all about the training – if you just want ‘good’ training, go out for a 5 hour rollerski. By yourself. And then do some intervals. For me, at least part of the draw of a good camp was the proverbial ‘shooting of the shit’. For the first time in 6 months you get to catch up with the people you compete against around the province, and figure out what has changed.

This includes a whole truckload of things. Examples: checking out chicks/dudes from other clubs, finding out which dude you narrowly beat last season is now injured/dropped out/joined the military/grew two feet/took up fencing instead, introducing other dudes to your new ass-kicking teammate who’s going to rock the circuit to its foundation, talking smack about how much you trained/haven’t trained/plan on training, and giving the occasional beat down to some pasty freckled kid from Sault St. Marie/Timmins/Thunder Bay/Orillia in poker/soccer/Frisbee/wrestling/pushups/video games.

And that was usually just in the first 24 hours.

As things progress, you get to check out new training places, new training ideas, and listen to new coaches tell you new things (or so you think at the time – really they’re just saying the same thing as your own coach, but you’re actually listening). You get to show off your killer core work, your lack of upper body strength, and your ability to bonk like a champion and puke into the bushes in a four hour run. You get to sleep like a log, whine about getting up early to run, eat monstrous amounts of food, sweat buckets, and offend people with your teenage body odour.

But best of all, you get to do it with a pack of people who understand why you do it, organized by a bunch of people who want you to enjoy yourself.

Kieran Jones (l) meets Kieran Jones (r) and much fun ensues.

About 20 minutes into the monster SOD Camp at Hardwood Hills thi8s week (100+ athletes, 20+ coaches) I realized that in my coaching capacity, the same things still apply.

I ran into some guys I went to university with, caught up with them. Banged heads with a few coaches I knew, met a bunch more who I didn’t know, but now know. Had an awesome encounter with Kieran Jones (Juvenile Boy, about 5’3, from Hardwood – same name, and in the 10 minutes we hung out, just as awesome. He now understands why some guy was cheering for him at Ontario Cups this winter using his full name, and why he was often entered into the ‘University’ category.) Sat down with Harry Seaton from NDC Thunder Bay and caught up on his training season, and where some of the other guys we know are at.

Heck, I even did some exercise. I learned how to do some strength exercises, and did some running and rollerskiing. Lesson learned – coaches are an awesome crew, but as a group there is a reason that most of us are coaches, not athletes (most – there are some exceptions, but definitely not me).

I thought camps were awesome, and I still do. When planning on attending training camp, you can look at the schedule and see the different activities, but what you can’t see is the group interaction. It’s this attitude and experience that is the most valuable aspect of training camp participation, and the most impossible to explain when someone asks “how was the camp?”

My advice? Stop asking how the camp was, stop asking why they’re important, think broader than just specific races and training sessions, give it a chance, and go experience it yourself! Who knows – maybe you’ll find the experience as worthwhile as I have, for over 13 years of ski racing!

CNST World Cupper Len Valjas' presentation opened with this slide. The classi sprint at Nationals as a seond year Juvy boy - he was nice enough to point out he came 41st, and I finished two spots ahead of him. It got me a sarcastic round of appalause. Hey, any round of applause is welcome!