Monday, 1 June 2015

Jackets, tights, buffs, hats, gloves.

I've just finished my first training camp of the new season with Team Synnfjell. As you can probably guess by the title of the blog it was cold, wet, windy and at times completely and utterly miserable. Winter has yet to release it's grip on Norway with May being one of the coldest and wettest on record.  After having spent many sessions getting drenched it was good to be back in a group and training with the rest of the team. It provided that little bit of extra motivation needed to train properly in horrible conditions.

The first day of the camp was spent in meetings. The team has changed a lot from last year with only 5 athletes continuing and 5 new athletes and a new coach. So the first day I had an individual meeting with the new coach Jostein Vinerjui, then we had a long meeting with the whole team. Some of it we were working in groups and some of it all together with everyone. There was a lot that had to be discussed as well as getting to know all the new athletes and a new coach and how they work. Although it can be boring to sit around for hours talking it is worth while and later on in the year we might really notice the benefits of it.

The second day of the camp was the only sunny day of the week. We used it well with a 3000m run test in the morning and a long double pole session in the afternoon. I ran 9.42 for the 3000m, quite far off my pb of 9.14 but it was only my 3rd hard running session of the year. I was a bit worried that I simply don't have the run speed that I need to run at the times I want to. But I ran the first km in 3.04 which probably killed me off for the rest of the test, but at least now I know I have the speed I need. I think with a few more hard running sessions in my legs I will easily improve my time later in the year.

After the only sunny day I had to digg out all my rain gear and winter gloves, buffs and hats. The temperature barely creeped above 5 degrees and it rained pretty much constantly. We abandoned 2 recovery sessions and ran inside on the running track or the treadmill because of the weather. We had a 6 hour session where we did 2 hours skate roller skiing, 2 hours running and 2 hours classic roller skiing. The start of the session was miserable, I had my rain jacket on and my hood up under my helmet. My buff was up to my nose. I only had on a pair of training tights, but I regretted not having my waterproof trousers. Fortunately after the 1st hour the weather eased and by the end of the session it was actually quite pleasant. By breaking the session up into 2 hour sections it was quite easy to stay on top of hydration and nutrition. I had made home made pizza for dinner the night before so ate 2 slices I had left over. I also scoffed 3 bananas and 6 slices of bread with peanut butter during the session. I drank 3litres during the session, some energy drink, but mostly diluting juice. For the last section of the session the coaches headed to the shop and kept us supplied with coke, snickers and raisin buns. When doing such a long session it is key that you don't get hungry and hit the "wall". If it gets to that point the session isn't worth completing. We wanted to get a good over distance session and that means completing it with good focus and still being able to ski just as well at the end as the start.

The second hard session of the camp was an 8x8 skate rollerski interval. We started at the bottom of the valley, right beside the motorway and skied up to the ski stadium, before doing the last 4 intervals on the rollerski track. Finding the balance between staying dry and warm but comfortable enough to ski was challenging. The temperature was only 4 degrees and the rain was torrential. I had an ok session and managed to keep my focus on my technique and work hard right to the end. Quite a few of the guys gave up after 6 or 7 intervalls because they were simply too cold to ski properly. I don't blame them, it was touch and go if I was going to finish the session. But I stayed just on the right side  of it being worth while, and got at least something out of the session. After the session there wasn't enough space in the car so some of us had to ski down to the car park at håkons hall to get changed. I had a knee length rain jacket on and a waterproof trousers. My gloves had become soaked through so I'd taken them off. During the 5min it takes to ski down to Håkons Hall at the bottom of the hill I'd become so cold I couldn't undo my bindings on my roller skis. I had to fumble around to get my car open and get changed and get my hands warm before I could even take off my skis or undo my boots.

The camp ended on Sunday morning with a 3hour running session. The rain had finally eased off but it was still pretty cold. Everybody was pretty tired, but we had a good session running in the mud. Vegard Nilsen, a local lillehammer skier who is on the Norwegian B team, joined us for the session. He was leading the way and said he knew a good 3 hours loop. The loop was pretty good, until we got a section where the slightly boggy path had been completely flooded into a thigh deep lake. There wasn't much choice by that point, so we just went through. I placed my self strategically at the back of the group so the others would find all the deep spots and I'd know where to avoid.  Even so, I still managed to go in up to my hips. The water was a combination of fresh rainfall and snow melt, so the pace of the run quickly picked up afterwards so everybody could get warm again. My feet remained frozen for most of the run, but I quickly warmed up else where.

Despite the weather we still managed to have a pretty good training camp. We still completed all the most important sessions and got quite a bit out of it and we still managed to have fun. I'm looking forward to training more with the team. I think the group is going to provide a good training environment this year, and I think we can push each other to train better and harder throughout the off season. I'm going to British Team camps in both June and July, so I'm not back with team synnfjell until the first week in August.

Next Monday I'm off to Vikafjell with the British team. We are having a week in Vik and a week at Sognefjell. The plan is to ski 1 session a day on snow at Vik and twice a day on snow at Sognefjell. Hopefully the weather will be better and we can get some proper summer skiing in shorts and t shirt.

Today Exel payed me a visit. They are on their way to Sognefjell to test some new products, so they stopped in on their way past Lillehammer. I got some new baskets and handles to test as well as some new pole straps to test. It's fun to work with Exel and getting to test all the latest products and giving my feed back. They are constantly developing new things, and even the smallest of details don't go missed. There is going to be some exciting stuff coming from them in the next year, and I'm looking forward to testing them out on snow later in the month.

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