Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Training Updates

As I get older, I adjust my training to be smarter, both to get faster and enjoy the process more. I’m not always sure I’m successful but it seems I’m getting ever so closer to my goals of skiing faster. Here are a few ways I’ve changed my training in the past couple years.

  1. Running. I’ve been doing a lot of running. This is largely because I ran the Twin Cities Marathon in 2015 but also because running has felt very good recently. It’s so easy to go for a run (hardly any equipment required) and I can run to and from work. I can also run just about anywhere I want which prevents boredom (compared to rollerskiing where I am trying to find good pavement and low traffic roads/trails). It also feels much safer than rollerskiing. True, I have fallen a couple times running, but the risk for injury (and damaging equipment) is much less. Also, when I rollerski, I try to focus on technique which is mentally demanding. In contrast, I don’t really focus much on technique while running and hence am alone with my thoughts. As I’ve mentioned in a few of my last blog posts, most of my intervals lately have been running and therefore I’m getting much faster.

  1. Rollerskiing. I used to go for lots of longer skate rollerskis. Then I started classic rollerskiing and was pretty bad at it. Around this time I heard Laura Bednarski talking about how she was also bad at classic rollerskiing and practiced for 30 minutes everyday. Usually I feel any workout under an hour is not worth it, but to quote Stuart Smalley (Al Franken) in Stuart Saves His Family, that’s “stinkin’ thinkin’.” So I started doing 30 minute classic rollerskis focusing on the striding technique. My balance isn’t great and so that’s what I’m working on. This year I’ve started incorporating shorter (about an hour) skate rollerskis focusing on technique. Again, I’m really working on balance, but also working on using my core strength with my skis underneath me to get a good push off. I find this keeps my heart rate relatively high, hence the shorter duration. This is essentially power that I’m working on- combining strength with speed. I think this has improved my technique a lot and now that my striding is getting better I’m applying power while striding as well.

  1. Biking. Yes, I do count my 6 mile bike commute in my training log. Anyone who knows how heavy my old 10 speed bike is understands. I feel this is both a cardio and a strength workout (especially because I almost always ride in the same gear). While 6 miles one way is hardly very far by bicycle (it takes me 25-30 minutes), it is too much to not count it at all.

    Killing 2 birds with one stone: getting my strength workout on while volunteering at Loppet Trails Day. Photo: Loppet Foundation

  1. Strength. In the past I’ve spent way too much time lifting weights at the gym. I am way more ripped from taking 15 minutes to do 90 pull ups a week than when I spent 3 hours per week lifting in the gym. I also do abs and push ups 3 times per week. I’m always trying to change up my ab routine since my abs are naturally pretty strong so I’ve been incorporating more planks and use of a big ball. Admittedly, I’m terrible at doing lower body strength training but have gotten a bit better at air squats and step ups. Sometimes I like to get in the tuck position between sets of pull ups. This can also be done on one leg to get in some core action and make it more difficult. I’m also a huge fan of doing strength on playgrounds. I love doing monkey bars and rings, but my favorite are the swinging monkey bars. Unfortunately, I’ve never found a long enough set of swinging monkey bars to suit my needs (I’m asking my husband to install a set in our basement for my 32nd birthday!). If the playground has a firepole, I try to climb up it. And new this year, I’ve started doing weighted pull-ups to which I say Bring It On...now if only I could get myself to start doing weighted squats!

     We had a recent 90s Dance Party at our house...I wore my wedding dress...a few skiers showed up...and we had our usual pull-up contest. I stalled out on #10 but I sweat these were really weighted as my wedding dress weighs a lot! Video: my bro, Reid.

  1. Canoeing, hiking, walking, yard work, etc. I only count these things in my training log if my heart rate is persistently above 100. Otherwise I count this in the “Lame-O” category. For our vacations, we often go backpacking. This year we went to Colorado and Glacier National Park. We try to hike about 15 miles per day and I don’t bring my heart rate monitor with me because the battery just doesn’t last long enough. I try to guestimate my uphill hiking time and put that in my training log as real training. Sometimes it’s hard substituting a real workout for one of these Lame-O workouts, partly because then my reported training volume won’t be as high. But these things are important, too, for everyday life, and to keep the mind and body fresh.
    This is how to do a canoe with a bike shuttle! Photo: Erik

  1. Seize the opportunity to train different places. I get bored doing the same routes week after week. Going on vacation is a nice break, but I only do this about 4 times a year so it’s not quite enough to break up the monotony. Going on weekend trips throughout the year helps. Whenever possible, we also try to incorporate one way runs or rollerskis. Sometimes if we’re driving somewhere, one of us will run back home. Recently we ran 16.5 miles to Erik’s parents house and then got a ride back from his parents. These one way adventures are a treat.
    Stopping to eat some thimbleberries while hiking in Glacier. Photo: Erik

  1. Remember some advice I got back in high school from a couple of my team-mates: essentially, leave something in the bank for races. I got told this when I was doing my intervals harder than everyone else or when I was determined to run farther. This concept is about not training myself into the ground and remembering to smell the flowers. I’ve been thinking about this more lately and letting myself bail on workouts if the weather is bad or erring on the side of doing too few rather than too many intervals. Unlike professional athletes, I don’t plan to retire at this sport for 30 plus years; therefore, I have to keep the training fresh.  I’ve given up two workouts lately for Happy Hour with my work group. This is a big accomplishment for me in my exercise-addicted life!