Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Italian Job

For the second year in a row I've spent Christmas in Livigno, Italy. With this year being such a bad snow year for central Europe, I was lucky enough that Livigno was one of the few places with snow. In fact there is quite a bit of snow here. Enough that all the cross country trails are open, and new this year is an extra 10k trial at the top of the valley. Livigno hosted the first leg of the longdistance race circuit, The Ski Classics and the new loop was added to the trial network for the event. There is now about 35km of ski trails.

It's been a breath of fresh air to ski on longer and easier trails instead of just doing laps of race courses. It's pretty much there first time this year I've skied on any loops longer than about 5k. The conditions have been pretty good for training with it being cold most of the time, but sunny and not too windy. I've taken the opportunity to train a bit more volume. Last week I trained a whole 16 hours! Of course this is not very much compared to the 30 hour weeks I trained in the summer but compared to the previous few weeks of 10 hours it feels like a lot! It took me a few days to get used to going out for longer sessions. I had some good ski sessions over 2 hours and a skate session that was 3 hours long. It was a bit of shock to the system, but I quickly got over it. By the end of last week I was starting to enjoy my long sessions, and I wasn't feeling so tired after them. Then it was time to stop. I'm racing again next weekend so the hours have to be eased back and the focus is back on getting the speed up and getting ready to race.

I've had a couple of hard sessions as well. Normally I'd drive over to Valdidentro to train hard at a lower altitude, but there hasn't been much snow there yet this year. I went over to look but due to holiday traffic it took an hour each way instead of 30min. There was an 800m loop of snow, but there were a lot of kids out skiing and it was fairly flat. So I came back to Livigno and did my hard sessions here. It's worked quite well and I haven't noticed the altitude effecting the sessions that much. But I have also been quite high for over 3 weeks now, so I would have thought I'd be adapted by now.

Christmas has been a bit unorthodox for my family this year. Due to both my mum and my sister having to work at various times during the holidays it was impossible for us all to be in the same place and the same time. My parents came out to visit me on the 26th, and we celebrated Christmas a day late. The Europeans celebrate Christmas a day early, so I don't see any harm in being a day late. My parents have been here in Livigno having a little ski holiday, my mum is coming over to the start of the Tour de Ski to watch the first stage before she heads home in the new year.

Seeing as there has been a weekend off racing, things have been a little bit less hectic and more relaxed. However now things are getting back to "normal". The Tour de Ski kicks off on Saturday in Oberstdorf, Germany. It will be my 3rd TDS start and I'm looking forward to it. Mostly because we don't have to fo to Oberhof this year. Like the previous 2 years I'm only going to do the first 3 stages. The first 3 stages suit me quite well and hopefully I can get some good results. After the first 3 stages the Tour moves on to Italy. The stages planned for Italy don't suit me so well and I'm better off doing something else. I've never completed the tour and never done anything like as hard as it. So I'm not sure how I would respond or how my form would be after having done something so hard. But this year I will get a little taste. Straight after stage 3 I'm flying up to Sweden to do the Scandinavian Cup in Falun. The races there are on the same trails as the World Champs in February. So it will be exciting to check them out. The plan at the moment is to do only the second 2 days of the Scandinavian Cup, the classic sprint and the 30k skiathlon.

After Falun the plan was originally to head back to Europe to get some more altitude. But due to the severe lack of snow this year I'm not yet sure if that's going to be possible. So I might yet end up heading back to Norway and putting in a good training block there. But as you can see, the next few weeks are quite busy with a lot going on. Hopefully the races go well. I feel as if training has been going well so now it's just to race fast.

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