Bigger Heart

Like a flash, Autumn is nearly over, and Winter, at times, seems mere days away. It only seems a couple of weeks ago when I returned home from New Zealand looking forward towards the entire Autumn. Today, I’m skiing on Frozen Thunder, and in less than a week the first races of the season will start. I’m excited to get out there and test how things have come together.

This last block of training, from after Mammoth Lakes to now, is one of the most vital blocks of the year. I take the volume training I have done throughout the Spring and Summer and shift gears towards building speed. There have been several tough intensities in the past few weeks. That said, a few were a lot of fun. First, I had the opportunity to race the boys from Foothills Nordic Ski Club in a Classic roller ski time trial up the Norquay road. It was one of the most fun workouts I’ve done on Classic roller skis. The race started as a Mass Start for all the male skiers. I was part of a small pack of five that quickly established a gap on the rest of the field. Being part of a group like that is something I don’t get an opportunity to do that often. I felt I was skiing well, the pace was high, but I thought I could hold it. Unfortunately, the terrain flattened out a bit, and the group strung out slightly as the others switched to double pole. I was not able to entirely hold the power the others can generate on the flatter terrain. As the incline rose once again, I could limit my loses. As I approached the final switchback, I tried to pick up the pace and see If I could close the gap to those ahead of me. I lucked out once again, as they powered away on the flatter finish. Regardless, I enjoyed racing those guys. Subtle changes and I could perhaps stay with the leaders and then see what happens in the final stretch. It was a hard effort but a great way to kick off the intensity block.

The next two intensities are quite literally in the Pain Cave. Well, it is more of a basement then cave, but you are guaranteed some suffering or at least lots of sweating. These two days were some of the most challenging workouts in a year. The purpose of the workout is to expand the heart. To do this, we have to push the body to the max and then beyond to make the gains. It is not only a physical effort but a mental one as well. While you force the body to the max, you have to stay focused. Continuing to push further but also to just remain on the treadmill. Losing that mental edge and your day isn’t going to get any better!

This past Sunday I had the final hard workout for the block. Perhaps knowing it was the last makes it that much better. Still, I thought it was a fantastic intensity and an excellent way to wrap up a challenging block. For the workout I had two goals; one was to increase the distance I skied with each interval. The second, to get my heart rate to 190. I was thrilled to achieve both goals on the final interval. Coincidence or not, I was once again on the Classic roller skis for this workout. It proves that everything is going in the right direction. I can take this workout and the other efforts from this block and go into the first races of the season with confidence.

I’m in the middle of a more relaxed week before I begin racing over the next two weeks. First with two Cross Country races next week, a King’s Court Sprint and a Freestyle Distance race. Then the following week, I have at least two, maybe three, Biathlon races. Here’s to a tremendous dryland season and the upcoming competitive season as it kicks off!