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Somewhere Between Obscurity and Oblivion

September 10
The other night I was talking with two members of the National Biathlon team. They were saying how they are just finishing up a "month off" and were about to reconvene in Park City/Soldier Hollow for more team training. Back in June-July they spent three weeks living in isolation on Daniel's Summit outside Heber, Utah. They were living/eating/sleeping up there at 10,000 feet. Then they would travel down to Soldier Hollow (elevation 5500 feet) to train each day. This is your old fashion altitude training (old fashioned meaning not involving Nitrogen Houses, EPO, or anything of the like). After the altitude camp and another month of team training, they had their month off in August, now they are reconvening for some more team training before heading back up to Daniel's Summit for a few more weeks before the ski season begins.

Anyway, during the course of our discussion about their dryland plan, I asked about the month off: "So by 'Off' you mean that you are on you own for training and not obligated to workout with the team, right?" The response I got to this question was, "No, we don't have to train at all during that time if we don't want to." Almost a vacation. Now, to be fair, it still sounded like most of them kept active, but it was mellow, easy training. This struck me as very odd. Lose a whole month of valuable dryland training? How could they do that?

Then the next night I was talking on the phone with Torbjorn. He told me how he had suggested to Justin Wadsworth that Justin take two days off this week and he thought I should do the same. I said that I was feeling pretty good and didn't feel I needed more than one rest day, especially since this is supposed to be an easy week for me anyway. Torbjorn's response was that was exactly why I should take more time off. He recommended the extra day off to Justin because Justin was feeling great. Confused? Well, as Torbjorn explained, when athletes start to feel really good, they tend to do even more and more training, pushing harder and harder, until they finally run themselves into the ground. His theory is that it is better to back off a little too early than too late, especially at altitude where your body takes longer to recover. Justin and I are both coming off 2-3 weeks of good hard training and will have another 2 intense weeks during the US Ski Team camp that starts next week. So we should rest now in order to keep the good vibes going the next few weeks.

This made sense to me. As I ran this morning, I started to put what the biathletes had said together with what Torbjorn had said and I came up with an idea. I decided that I would make this week EXTREMELY easy. I have just finished up what is probably my best summer of training ever and I am about to start the final 6-week training push towards the ski season. It makes sense to reload now, so I am firing on all cylinders during this next period. A little extra rest can't hurt, but too little rest could be disastrous. Now I won't exactly be taking a month off, but this week I plan on doing only about 6-8 hours of training ( a normal "Easy/Recovery Week" for me is about 12 hours). I'll still do some intervals and weights and a little distance, but it will be low key and fewer hours. It will allow me to refresh both mentally and physically and get ready to rock the next month and a half.

So if you need me, I'll be sunning myself by the pool. Aw, who am I kidding - I'll be spending the extra time at work.

September 27
It seems like every September, the US Ski Team has on the schedule a training camp in Park City. And every year I think it will be a great training opportunity. And it never materializes. Some of the athletes don't show up. Some of them have their own programs and train on their own. And when the team only has five members, it means that the training camp never really happens. The same thing happened this year. Even though most of the team was in town, it seemed like each was doing his own thing. This was in sharp contrast to the Canadian women's team who has also been here for their own camp, and have been much more cohesive in their training efforts. On a side note, the Canadian women, as a team, have also been much more successful than any of the US teams recently. Hmmmm. Anyway, the collapse of the US camp did have a side benefit to me. Since Justin Wadsworth is also coached by Torbjorn, I got to do many of my workouts with him. It has been a great experience to chase Justin around Soldier Hollow during interval sessions and time trials. I learned a lot from watching how he pushed himself in intervals and Torbjorn was able to point out some helpful differences in our techniques. For the past three weeks all my hard workouts have been with Justin and today was the last one before he left town - a 10K classic rollerski time trial. The goal was to start fast, but kind of easy (level III) and then pick it up to race pace after about 3K. You will be able to read the results soon in the IRS section, but suffice it to say that I didn't win but I had a good race. It has been a good couple weeks training with Justin and around so many other good athletes. I feel good and I am encouraged by what I have seen from myself and others over the past few weeks. For the first time in months, maybe years, I can feel my body getting stronger with every workout. I feel like I can push myself and instead of getting worn down, I am being built up. This is just the time of year I want to feel this, and I am psyched about it. Now just a couple more solid weeks of training and I'll be off to the races.

© 2003 Cory Smith. All Rights Reserved.