Where to begin? Blog worthy stuff has been happening all the time... almost like the number 10 bus... nothing interesting for a while then suddenly 2 weeks of action packed madness comes at once. Unfortunately, as so much has been happening I am going to forget something. But I will do my best to update you on what has happened.
This year our summer training camp was split in 2, or maybe even 3. First we had 4 days in Stirling. Here we had 2 testing sessions at the Scottish Institute of Sport, one running on the treadmill and one doing double pole on the rollerski treadmill. We had a few running sessions and some rollerski sessions out on the roads... although finding suitable roads proves challenging in Stirling. We could also access the institute gym for our strength sessions.
It was a pretty good 4 days, having all the support and access to it at our fingertips works quite well. I didn't actually train that much during the camp in Stirling. There is a lot of stop starting with the testing and a lot of moving about but not all that much testing. The other thing i find with testing is that it really really tires me. Except when you actually look back through it, only the last 10mins or so of the test were actually carried out at a hard intensity.
On the Friday morning we had a session at the Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow. This was the scariest thing I have ever done. What you don't realise watching track cycling on TV is that the banking they go round is actually pretty much vertical.... ok so it is only 44 degrees but it feels very vertical when you are going round it. It wasn't actually the banking I had a problem with. I felt I could use it ok, but the straights were where i had the problem. On Tv the straights look completely flat. But they aren't. They are still banked in. I found it felt like i just slipped down the banking into the middle of the velodrome every time i came onto a straight away. Anyway, after a while i got the hang of it. And the last 10mins or so i actually began to enjoy what i was a doing and then we had to stop.
That Friday afternoon we had a good long running session over Dumyat and into a valley on the other side of the hill. After dinner we drove to Perth and up the A9 to Aviemore for part 2 of the camp.
We stayed for 3 nights at Glenmore Lodge. We normally stay at Badaguish, another outdoor centre just down the road from Glenmore Lodge. Why? you might be asking. Why wouldn't we stay at the national training centre considering we are a national team? Well, it is more expensive. A national centre, that we as a national team don't want to use because it costs too much...
Unfortunately Badaguish was full for the first 3 nights of our camp in the area. These 3 days had some pretty good training sessions. The first day was insanely hot and a short game of football and strength outside on the grass was the first training session. In the afternoon we had a long skate rollerski. Rollerskiing on Speyside is, contrary to belief, rubbish. There are 3 roads. The lift road. The Nethy Bridge road. The Feshie Bridge road. In fairness we use two other roads but they require a drive... Nethy Bridge to toumintoul road and the glenfeshie "drains" road. All of these however require an out an back, there are no loops.
Although the rollerskiing is limited it is actually good limited rollerskiing. For most sessions we can rollerski from the accommodation and the traffic is quite good.
We also had a long running session, that took me deeper into the Cairngorms than i have ever been. It was a great running session and included all the things that should be expected when on the Scottish hills. Not knowing where you are. Visibility less that 10m. Baltic temperatures despite it being the middle of summer. You know, the usual. We made it down alive, but everybody was tired, cold and wet after 4 hours of running.
The last part of the camp was 5 days of training from Badaguish. This was a brutal 5 days... 4 interval sessions. I think that pretty much sums it up. Every day bar one was hard as nails. The hard sessions were hard... the easy sessions were long and done at the top of our limits for long sessions. We slept lots and we ate lots.
I have to say it was easily one of the hardest training camps i have ever been on. I think the standard of training was one the highest if not the highest of any training camp i have been on, although there aren't huge numbers of us. I think things in British XC skiing are at a level they have never been at before. Obviously i say this whilst touching wood! Either the standard amongst the Brits is really increasing or i am in horrific form... both are just a likely... but i'm going with the former.
The camp ended with a brutal hill bounding session. We try to run with poles as if we are skiing up hill. 6x7mins from the Hayfield up Cairngorm. We got to the final steep section just before the top station. We had 2min breaks and ran down quite far between the intervals. I ran in a group with Muzzy and Callum most of the way, occasionally one of us would get a few metres on the others or start a bit ahead. On the final interval Muzzy ran away from us. I have to admit on the final few steep sections i was forced to go over into ski walking.
For the final session of the camp... although the camp had really finished some of us decided to have one last ski session together... we had a skate rollerski session firstly up the lift road before coming down to Coylumbridge and back up to Badaguish and finishing with some speed work.
Now i am looking forward to a few easy days. Today is in fact a complete rest day... but for most of the week i will have at least one session a day. Towards the end of the week i should be fully recovered and able to have a few hard session and maybe some days with 2 training sessions again.