Only 20 days until the shortest day and Norway seems to be in a constant state of semi darkness. Soon Christmas (24th) will be upon us and the race to be the first on the ski tracks begins on the 25th! My training for the 2014 season is taking a different, more developed approach than 2013. One thing is I’ve decided to start setting specific goals for specific training periods to help me get stronger and better technically.
The five weeks from 1st October to early November were spent working on several aspects. Firstly, building ski technique again and working on the technical skills needed for ski-o. It’s a lot of work and requires effort to get up each time I fall. Having never learnt to XC ski as a child, I am having to teach myself new skills – not only that of the alien feeling of sliding on ski’s but also how to turn without using my snowplough! Secondly, the goal was to develop my core strength for more stability while biking and skiing.
During November the plan was to return to the UK for 3 weeks and do 3 MTB XC races. I’ve been wanting to do some for a few months now and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. So, the goal was to do the races and learn something about tactics while racing, as well as hone my technical skills on the singletracks. I won two of the three races, the second win being perhaps one of my ‘year achievements’ up there with winning EOC, and a 2nd/4th at WOC. (In fact, I rate the 4th higher than the 2nd because my physical performance exceeded my expectations. The middle performance was somewhat anticipated). I realised that while my technical skills have improved significantly in the last months, that there is still a lot of work to (in terms of strength and movement control).
Now it’s December and the training season has started for real. Well, intervals have started. The last two months have been spent building my base endurance and strength on the bike, and judging by ‘feeling’ of my body from the races I did in November, I felt I had not lost much fitness since WOC. Obviously the training volume this year has given me a great base to work from, but I was surprised that no specific speed work in 3 months could still keep me in good shape.
I’ve decided not to do as much ski-o this winter. I think I’ve still got 7-12 races planned (depending on if I enter the World Cup races in Norway and Sweden) but I don’t have any interest in scaring myself s***less on the steep and technical descents, only to fall at the bottom in a pile of ski’s and poles contorted around my body in ways I can’t get out of. Instead, my training has developed on to something else that will make me better for next year.
There’s also no snow in Norway where I am right now – a 1.6km ski track that’s crammed with people isn’t the best to test out the fat bike in the snow! So I’m stuck with my training MTB (not enough ice for spike tyres either) and discovering new trails and testing the limits of my bravery while riding trails ‘blind’. The snow will come soon, and I can spend the next 3 months skiing every day.
One of the funny things I’ve learnt this week, is that Norwegians call a south-westerly wind in the winter a ‘storm’! Clear, blue sunny skies, +8°C, and some wind (strong enough to blow one off a bike). Being British, ‘if the sun is shining, it’s not a storm’. I rode Rauhaugen on Saturday. That night the wind picked up, and on Sunday my favourite trail was covered with fallen trees. I’m either going to need an axe, a chainsaw or a spade to dig some really big jumps!