Vakava Team Photo

Vakava Team Photo
Vakava Racers at the Mora Last Chance Race

Monday, November 26, 2018

Crossroads #4: Mixing It Up

Since turning 30, I’ve been wanting to do things “different” but as I’ve ended up stuck in my usual ruts and the only thing I’ve managed to do “different” so far seems to be growing out my hair! I’ve tried to change that this year and here’s a few things I’ve been implementing.
Yowzers, my hair is getting long. This is from out New Mexico backpacking trip in September. Photo: Erik

Strength Training: I’m really good at doing abs and pull ups but admittedly terrible at leg strength. Every year I vow to do more leg strength and every year I pretty much fail. Well, last year I started doing single leg squats and I’ve gotten a bit better at those this year and am able to go deeper. This year I’ve been doing squats regularly and even added in weight (10 pound dumbbells)- and I got extra motivated to double my weight after watching Jessie Diggins Fastenal strength video and started using two 10 pound dumbbells. Note, Jessie used two 35 pound dumbbells...progress, not perfection. But now what I really need to do are more explosive/dynamic movements! We’ll see if I can get those incorporated. Part of my problem is that I try to fit in a quick strength workout after I run home from work and by that time I’m starving so I want it to be short.

Ahhh, yes. I've always been good at doing my arm strength. Even on my honeymoon. Even on the Eiffel Tower. Photo: Erik

Plyos: I typically run four times per week and on one of my runs I’ve been doing plyos (skipping for height, skipping for distance, butt kicks, high knees, moose hooves, karaoke, backwards running, etc). Instead of running, I interject a plyo so I keep moving forward. I believe this helps my training in a number of ways including strength, explosiveness, agility, and keeping things from being boring.

Technique: I’m always making technique changes and one thing I’m trying to hone in on now that my balance is better, is the need to make a really quick, dynamic poling motion. Somehow, this is my goal every year and every year I fall short and so this goal re-emerges every year. Last year I had this motto “no pole plant shall go without power.”I think it helps to find some some lyrics to go along with this and Snoop Dogg’s Drop It Like It’s Hot seems to fit the bill. (As in let the gravity work with the pole plant and follow through feeling the motion start in the upper body, keeping a tight core, and exploding on the legs!) Please note, I was recently looking back at some previous years goals and back in ‘08-’09 my goal was the same. Some things never change:) I’m not a power person in my skiing but I’ll keep working at it.

From my journal 10 years ago.

But alas, something really needed to change. In the Intro post of this series, I noted my February routine of four consecutive weekends of racing. It’s my February rut to which I feel “obligated.” But I just couldn’t do it again so I looked at the different technique and distance options at each race. I’ve been doing the skate City of Lakes Loppet and am still a bit stuck on this. I love the classic at Mora so wasn’t about to budge on that. That’s my favorite race all season. I’d still rather do the short classic at Finlandia.

So everything came down to the Birkie.

My second Birkie in 2005.

I skated my first six Birkies, then took a three year hiatus while we lived in New York. I had no interest in skating out of Wave 2 again, surrounded by a sea of men who all think they are faster than small me, so I started doing the classic race. After five years of the classic race (and training for it when it was cancelled in 2017) and this year falling back in my placing, I needed to make a change. I’ve been thinking about this heavily over the past couple years and the 2017 race cancellation derailed my plans a bit. This year I waited until almost the end of the first price-hike before registering as I was still wavering between the classic and skate. I didn’t want to lose my Elite Wave place but I also wasn’t motivated to do the classic again. I wanted to do the skate race.

After making the switch from Birkie Classic to Birkie Skate I knew 100% that this was the right decision. I needed to mix it up. This makes me so much more excited for the Birkie and to look forward to the ski season ahead, focusing more on skate than classic.

It seems my skiing results have been pretty stagnant over the past few years. Meanwhile, I’ve been getting much faster at running. Now, it’s really easy to measure my progress running where I can look at my paces. The conditions are often quite similar and it doesn’t really matter how many people are in my race- I can judge my improvement based on my paces. Compare that to skiing where a whole host of variables- ski conditions, type of course, different distances from year to year- make pace irrelevant. Therefore I have to measure my progress based on others’ results. And in many of the races I do there is such a paltry women’s field it’s really hard to measure.

Me racing to a 10K PR just after graduating high school. I've always considered this one of my best every races and after working on my running a lot the past few years, I think I'm back in this kind of shape.

This makes me think about mixing up my training in a revolutionary way- but there is this voice nagging in my head that says “but what I’m doing has helped my running times.” So I probably need to make my ski training more mimic my run training. And what I’ve done really successfully are threshold runs in addition to faster shorter intervals.

So I need to do threshold skis.

In Vakava rollerski practice we’ve done a lot of longer intervals this season (about 8 minutes) that is somewhere between threshold L3 pace and L4 pace. It is a bit hard to do these on rollerskis without a good loop. My plan is once we have snow to start doing a threshold ski workout once per week. This will look something like 4 x 15 minutes, 3 x 20 minutes, 2 x 20 minutes, etc, with 5ish minutes of active rest between intervals.

Since this is my future plan, you’ll have to check back next year to see if I accomplish these threshold skis.

Happy Training:) Photo: Jordan Hart