The Apocalypse is Nigh

What do haircuts, untimely snowstorms, the coming of new equipment and time trials have in common? If you know me well you’d probably say: “they are events that you have experienced in the past couple weeks!!!” And you’d be right–but that’s beyond the point. What each of these five events have in common is that they are all a sign of the IMMINENCE OF THE APOCALYPSE. Yes, you heard me right. Doubtful? Let me present my arguments.

What drives an individual to get their haircut? Is it the annoyance of having to brush hair out of the way whenever they want a clear view of objects in their sightline? Is it because their hairstyle is starting to look reminiscent of that of some obscure rock group from the late ’70s–and the individual happens to not be a fan of rock ‘n roll from that era? Is it the simple fact that it pushes their headband higher on their head whenever they want to keep their ears warm?
In reality, the reason for haircuts is SOCIAL CONFORMITY. In turn, social conformity signals a development of a less culturally diverse population, a loss of individuality and, the beginning of humanity’s eventual evolution into zombies.
We all know that zombies are part and parcel with the apocalypse.

I’ve been running back and forth between home and the Nordic Centre since I don’t have a car.  The day of the big snowfall it was around -20 C, so I dressed accordingly for my morning commute (and blasted Billy Talent as per usual).

This being my first year in Canmore, I was pleasantly surprised when, contrary to the suggestions of historical meteorological data, we got quite the early-season dump of snow two weekends ago. But, my pleasant-surprisedness quickly turned to dismay when I realized what this early snowfall really symbolized: AN EARLY-SEASON APOCALYPSE. Unseasonal weather phenomena are a sign of climate change and climate change will destabilize the biological systems of us humans, making us more susceptible to the virus that will turn us all into zombies. Zombies signal the apocalypse (see above).

Pretty sweet early season snowfall!

New equipment is required for all those who hope to have a chance of surviving the zombies. Thanks to Swix and Salomon for increasing my chances of survival!!!

Last week I participated in a time trial with my Alberta World Cup Academy teammates. The cool thing about it was that we went off in two mass start waves, with the U23s (myself included) being chased by the older senior athletes, rather than the usual interval start TT format. It was a really good opportunity to work on skiing in a group and practice my mass start tactics and, afterwards, I felt pretty good about the whole experience (if a bit tired). 
Unfortunately, shortly afterwards I realized that maybe this time trial was just our coaches preparing us to outrun zombies. Although I haven’t inquired to this end, I expect our coaches have heard news of an incoming zombie epidemic and are training us so that we will outrun the zombies more effectively than the athletes at the other training centres, thus securing our spots for World U23 Championships (you can’t race if you’re already a zombie, duh). Note that I am not suggesting any similarities between our senior athletes and zombies.

Thus, each of these events is a sign of the imminence of zombies, which, of course, are a sign of the apocalypse. I rest my case….

…although, I suppose these events could also be a sign that race season starts in 5 days.

Race fast and Dream Big, People!!

Race Philosophy and Lake Louise

Race season is so close now I can taste it!!! Or, maybe it’s just the snow I’m catching on my tongue. Either way, it tastes good.

With Winter and ski racing being first and foremost on my mind today (….and…. actually, pretty much everyday), this blog post has two elements–which are kinda given away in the title. If you need colourful visual stimulus to keep you reading stuff, first, good luck with life; second, skip down to the Lake Louise Section of the blog and enjoy.

Race Philosophy

A friend of mine was asking me for ski racing/training tips the other day and one of the tips I came up with for her was about the mindset I carry into a race. These three tips are pretty universal to life, so if you don’t ski race feel free to slot in words pertaining to whatever thing you are currently pursuing, whenever I mention ski racing, and then go out there and keep pursuing it!
1) Today is unique. You will have no other opportunity in your life to race on the given race course, under the given set of conditions, with the given group of competitors. Make the most of the opportunity!!! Go out there, race the best you can and take advantage of and enjoy the situation on the day! 2) Don’t be afraid of failure (I know this one is a bit cliché–but I had to add it). Sometimes you learn more from a failed experience than a successful one. See your mistakes as opportunities to learn! Which brings me to the last, and possibly most important race-philosophy tip….
3) Ski racing is an ongoing learning experience. That’s one of the things that makes it so rewarding! Each race experience that you have (and when I say “race experience” I mean time trials too) is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and to learn about what works and what doesn’t work for you to help you perform the best you can. See every race as the fun learning experience that it is and try to take a few things, that will help you be faster in the next race, away from each race that you do. If you can learn something from every race then every race–even the bad ones–will have an element of success in it. To help facilitate this, I keep a race journal. The night before each race I write important things (like start time, warm up routine, goals for the race, etc) in my journal and afterwards I write a review of the race in it. In the review I like to include things that went well, things that I can improve and any other points of interest that I’d like to remember.
Lake Louise
In my experience, there are few things better than training camps. Of the few things that are better, both “race trips” and “last minute training camps” make the list. So you can imagine my excitement when it was announced, in a very last minute-fashion, that we were to have a training camp this weekend in Lake Louise! Although that excitement quickly changed to stress when I remembered that I had to write a midterm on the Saturday of the camp, the stress has now faded away into the past with the help of the calming effect that both fresh snow and finished midterms have on me. Thankfully, with L.L. only an hour drive from Canmore, I was able to get a ride up to our first on-snow camp of the year when my midterm was done (thanks Val!).

Alex and I at the top of Moraine Lake Rd. Thanks to Lars for taking the pictures featured in my blog today!

 Although Lake Louise doesn’t bump out Silverstar as my top “paradise on earth” ski location, it is really, really nice for early on-snow sessions–especially considering that there was only about 15-20cm of snow on the ground for the duration of the camp.

Looking up at what I believe is Mount Temple, the tallest peak in the region.
I got a some good workouts in over the course of the 3 days I was there for. For me, there were two really cool stand-outs from the camp. First, there’s the fact that the trail we were skiing up–Moraine Lake Road in the summer (fun fact: Moraine Lake was featured on the 1969-70 Canadian $20 bill)–is primarily made up of a pretty continuous, almost hour-long climb. Of this hour of climbing a large part is a perfect classic striding grade! Made for some nice zone1. Second, this morning we got to do a really fun/hard skate skiing-speed interval set. One of the harder on-snow interval sets that we’ve had this year–and it went well! Only thing was that the trail was SUPER busy; it made for some interesting mid-interval dodging of other skiers. I actually don’t think I’ve ever seen as many skiers on one trail, in Canada, as there were on Moraine Lake Road every day of the camp. I decided to attribute this to the fact that xc-skiing is growing, as a sport, in North America. Live with it.

I think the only regret I have from the camp is that I didn’t make a snow angel in the powder at the top of Moraine Lake Road! Next time…

Dream Big, people!

Nice two skating… gotta get more knee bend.

Frozen Thunder-struck

To the excitement of skiers all across North America, Frozen Thunder was spread out the weekend of the 19th in Canmore! 

Frozen Thunder sunrise.
For those of you unfamiliar with it, Frozen Thunder is the name given for the 2+ km ribbon of snow which is spread out mid-October at the Nordic Centre. The snow for the loop is stored under wood chips all summer long only to be revived from its dormant state mid-October–with the help of dump trucks, piston-bullies and an excavator. The really cool thing about it is that, being one of the first early-season opportunities to get on snow in North America, Frozen Thunder has become more than just a short loop of ski trail–it’s an event. Top skiers from all over North America flock to Canmore to ski on the loop and, with the help of the annual Frozen Thunder sprint race, an air of festivity has developed around this little bit of groomed snow!
Best time to hit-up Frozen Thunder is early in the morning (as pictured). Around 9am it gets super-busy. 
My Salomon and Swix gear making the transition from rollerskiing to on-snow with me!
Unfortunately for me I decided to practice my wheelies on a short mountain bike ride the day before Frozen Thunder opened–a decision which affected this last week in a number of ways for me…
First, it led to me lying on my back on one of the Nordic Centre’s trails, contemplating the sky with a very sore lower-back and hip. Second, it induced a flurried activity of Physio visits. Next, it caused me to miss the first day of Frozen Thunder and to spend the next couple days focusing on double polling. In the middle of all this I decided to not put up a blog post last week because I was feeling kinda bummed about the whole situation (sorry!). Finally, I ended up skipping the Frozen Thunder sprint day last Thursday because I didn’t want to push my hip to hard.
No matter how many times I am bothered by a nagging cold or pulled muscle, missing training on account of an injury or illness doesn’t get any less disappointing. That being said, there are certain things that are really important to keep in mind during a bought of unhealthiness, to keep things in perspective. Here are my top three pieces of advice:
1) I know it’s ridiculously cliché, but there is a positive in pretty much everything. Even when you can’t practice your sport physically, there are still many other things you can do to improve as an athlete. Search for the positive in the situation and see involuntary down-time as an opportunity to improve another side of your athletic performance.
2) Never loose sight of your longterm goals, especially when you’re working through an injury. The thing is, even if you miss weeks or months of training, it’s not going to affect where you want to be in your sport a few years down the line. This is pretty empowering knowledge when you aren’t well (and another great reason why you need to have longterm goals!).
3) The mind is extraordinarily powerful. If you can stay in a good place mentally throughout a time of injury or sickness, chances are you are going to heal much faster. The faster you can mentally overcome the disappointment of missed training the faster you will heal physically.
As I write this it is snowing. How nice 🙂
Speaking of being healed, on Saturday I did classic skiing intervals on-snow on Frozen Thunder for the first time this Winter and my hip felt solid! With one month left until the first races of the season it’s time to put the icing on the metaphorical cake.

Anyway, let them eat cake!!–I mean–Dream Big, People!!!

The Art of Focus

You carry your cell phone around with you 24/7 and are constantly checking and sending texts, trying to catch up with people elsewhere–even as you interact with those around you less and less. You’re studying for your exam and the neighbours are still playing their annoying pop music next door. Whatever, facebook says your friends are partying this evening. You can study for your exam as you wait to get into the exam room, right? You’re walking to the grocery store when you run into that person you haven’t seen in forever! Two hours later you’re done your thirty minute shopping trip and you’re late for that date you had. Uh oh.

Everyday we are bombarded by a myriad of distractions, causing us to be in a constant state of rushed multi-tasking that hinders us from accomplishing those things that matter most. This self-inflicted pressure to be everywhere at once really seems to have become a part of our society, and in some instances maybe having a scattered focus is necessary. But these “instances” are not universal.

Focus, like most words, can mean different things in different contexts; when I use focus as a noun in this blog I usually mean the ability to forget all stimuli and all thoughts irrelevant to the task at hand. If the ultimate goal is the completion of the task to the best of the one’s abilities having a focus like this is absolutely vital.
Wanna become less of a tourist?? Use focus!
Today I’ve put together some tips on focusing from the knowledge I’ve acquired ski racing and from reading Pursuit of Excellence (see below). Although a lot of my tips come from a ski racing perspective, the essence of them can be applied to many other areas of life. Remember, what works for me may not work for you; that’s what makes life so interesting.

Tips on training your focus:
— Read your way through In Pursuit of Excellence by Terry Orlick. It’s a great read and a great way to improve your focus and other mental aspects of performing one’s best.

— Come up with your own “focus training routine”! What you wanna do is start out simple: make the commitment to take some time once a day or, if you’re kinda lazy, once a week, and practice focusing on different things:
1)You could practice by sitting with your eyes closed and, starting with your toes and ending with the top of your head or fingers, focus on what each part of your body is feeling at the given moment.
2)You could practice by visualizing yourself performing to the best of your abilities (this is like killing two birds with one stone ‘cause it builds your visualization skills too). I visualize myself skiing a section of familiar race course with the absolute best technique and pacing. If I wanna make it harder I imagine possible distractions and then practice overcoming them and returning to my best focus ASAP.
3) Practice using your focus to levitate your X-Wing out of the swamp.
Whatever you decide to do to train your focus, start with a practice time of no more than 10min. It’s really hard to maintain a top focus much longer without your mind starting to drift.

–Practice focusing on particular objectives when at practice. It may not be a race situation but it’s the next best thing.

–Treat every time trial as if it was a race! Use these opportunities to learn about and practice your performance focus.

Performance focus:
So you’re at your performance, you’ve trained your body and your mind and you think you’re ready to go. What can you do to make sure that you’re focus snaps into place when you need it? Well, for starters, you can start by asking yourself this question a bit earlier…

–In the day(s) leading up to your performance make sure to take the time to visualize yourself performing at your best in the environment where your race (or event) will take place. Come up with solid goals and come up with a way of making sure you stay motivated when you’re out there doing what you do. I like to come up with key phrases to tell myself when I feel my focus or motivation leaving me before or during my ski race. Ex: “Relax”, “Time to go!” “Today only happens once: make it count” “Choose to hurt”.
–Race day: Find a way to get yourself in “the zone”, to “find your flow”, to be Zen. I do this by closing my eyes and listing to music, by going over my key phrases (see above) or by praying.
–At the start/during the race:
The most important thing to realize about focus is that FOCUS CAN NOT BE FORCED. Yep, deal with it. With this in mind, the most important thing you can realize at the start gate is that–and I’m assuming you’re passionate about what you do–you are out there for one reason and one reason alone: to revel in doing what you do to the best of your abilities. For me, I tell myself: “I am here for one reason only: to ski on this race course on this day as fast as I possibly can.”
If you’re at the start line on race day and you are focused on end results or on consequences you are almost guarantied to not find your focus. Sorry.



Armed with a strong focus you will be like Aragorn in Lord of The Rings: “A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day!!!!”. With a strong focus you will continue to hold back “this day”.

Dream big, people!!

P.S. Next blog post will be a video blog! Stoked.

Snow!

With the weather getting colder and the ski season seeming more and more imminent, around mid-week last week I finally decided to break the question to one of my teammates “So…. when do you start seeing snow on the mountains?” When he replied, “Probably not for another couple weeks. Usually around the end of September or start of October” I felt neutral; excited that it was close but disappointed that it was not “probably gonna start snowing tomorrow!!!! YEAH!!”

So, when I woke up the following morning I was totally not expecting to see tasty looking powdered sugar all over the mountain tops!
Instead, the following morning looked somewhat like this…

Got out of bed, checked my resting HR, ate a bunch of oatmeal, noted the low clouds, the rain pouring down outside and the sub 10 degree temperature, dressed appropriately but then checked Environment Canada to see if the radar would give any warning as to when this kinda fall-bleakness would let up–and that was when I saw it. In the comments about the day’s weather it mentioned “snow line moving down from 2400m to 1800m (FYI: Canmore altitude is about 1300m and the surrounding mountains reach up to around 2k altitude I think).”

It was at this point that my outlook on the day’s workout changed. What would otherwise have been me feeling about as stoked as a kitty-cat facing the prospect of swimming the bering strait in January, now, was me feeling 100% as stoked as an amur tiger eagerly starting upon the trail of a new day’s hunt. A SNOW HUNT.
And just like that a fairly bland, rainy workout turned into an exciting one. As the clouds cleared toward the end of my ski, I got a view up into the mountains from my vantage point at the Nordic Centre rollerski track. And there it was. Snow had sprinkled down majestically, coating the tops of all the mountains in divine white frosty goodness (yum… that description does sound tasty!)!

Taken today! There was more of it last week when it fell out of the sky

Why so much excitement over snow way up high that I can’t interact with at all? The snow is another reminder of just how close we are to being able to strap our boots onto regular skis and take of into the Winter wonderland. For athletes like me it is now a time to reflect and refocus. What have I done so far this year that’s worked great? What hasn’t been so good? What do I need to focus on for these last couple months so that when the snow flies I will be flying with it?

Interestingly enough, the story of my first (kinda) snow-day out west is a bit of a microcosm of my last couple weeks. Since getting back from my trip home I’ve been feeling a bit more tired than I would like, I hadn’t got a chance to mountain bike for quite awhile and our Haig Glacier camp got canceled for the second and final time this year (the groomer broke the day before we were to head up). These facts added up to make a not super-stoked Zeke.
With the coming of new snow, the motivation of an awesome time trial I did last Saturday (a time trial that both Ivan Babikov AND Devon Kershaw were also taking part in!! What joy!), and some solid recovering, I am now feeling ready to take on the world–and of course these last couple months of training.


Me! Offsetting my way up to 2200m elevation at the top of the Highwood Pass in K-country. This was during one of the 4+ hr workouts we did during our supposed-to-be-on-the-Glacier-camp. Thanks to Kevin for the shot.


Moral of the story? Sometimes life will rain on you. Find ways to turn that rain into snow and you will take your first strides out into that snow feeling better, and stronger, than ever.

Dream Big, People!

P.S. Sorry about putting out my Monday blogs quite late in the day for the last number of days. The other thing that fall means is that now on Sunday afternoons I’m not like, “oh! Let’s write a blog!” I’m like, “oh! Let’s do psych. homework!” C’est la vie. I’ll try to change this.

Home!

I apologize about getting my blog post out a day later than usual; I have had a pretty hectic, but super-fun, last couple weeks. “Why hectic?”, you say, “why super-fun?” Hectic because I traveled across the country and back, and organized (with the help of many) a running race fundraiser event! Fun for reasons similar to those stated above and because the destination of my travels was home!

One of the advantages of being back home: visiting my favourite Bike/Ski shop!


Shortly after my blog post two weeks ago I jumped on a plane and flew back to the beautiful National Capital District to visit my friends and family! This trip was dominated by the set-up and execution the Nordic FUNd Run (see one of my previous blog posts). The goal of the FUNd run was to encourage younger Ski Racers in the Ottawa area, put on a fun event and raise money for myself and two other top Canadian U23 skiers as we work to afford the cost of training and racing year-round.

The start/finish area at the FUNd Run. Photo credits to George for these two pics!

Huge thank you everyone who supported our event! Thanks especially to Ottawa Race Weekend, for supplying equipment for the race and to Camp Fortune for donating the use of their venue!

Happily, the event went extraordinarily well! Huge thanks goes out to everyone–the volunteers, the sponsors and the competitors–who supported the event! Thanks so much guys!

Although a lot of my visit was spent planning/stressing for the FUNd run I still had some time to have some fun of my own, hanging out with my family! To list some of the highlights apart from the FUNd run…

I played a game of Dog Attack! with my little siblings (the game was actually created by said little siblings) at the local park. The game involves one player being an vicious dog and the other players trying to get up, out of the dogs reach on the play-structures. It was wildly entertaining.

My brother, not playing Dog Attack, in front of the Nakkertok ski barn.


I watched a Billy Talent concert at the Bronson Centre in Ottawa! To sum it up, live concerts are amazing and Billy Talent is pretty much the best band ever.

Just before BT came on! The excitement!!!!


I went to the Star Wars Identities exhibition at the Aviation museum! I’m not a die-hard Star Wars fan myself but I definitely appreciate the movies–and they had a Darth Vader costume that was worn in the first trilogy on display! It was pretty cool.

The Star Wars exhibition was inside this rather intimidating looking building

“You shall not pass!!”–errrr–“Keyser Söze!!”–errr–“I am your father!!!” One of those quotes…

Now that I am back in Canmore life is returning to its normal rhythm (i.e. eat, train, sleep–not necessarily in that order). I’m heading up to the Haig Glacier for an on-snow camp on Wednesday, which I’m super stoked for, so look for all the cool details of that up here in the next couple weeks.

Until then, Dream Big, People!

Back in Canmore and stoked about organic quick oats

Of Big Sky and White Fish

On Thursday two weeks ago we (the Alberta World Cup Academy) embarked on what has become an annual event for the Academy: Whitefish. For those not in the know, Whitefish is our fourth training camp of the year and our final training camp to take place during the part of the training season that focuses on volume training (see “Volume” blog post). Coincidentally, Whitefish is held in Whitefish Montana, on the shores of the picturesque Whitefish lake, at the foot of Big Mountain (creative name eh?). With many hours to complete, easy access to a lake, a big mountain and ice cream the scene was set for some top-notch training! 
In honour of our ten days of solid training I have uploaded and captioned 10 of my favourite pictures from the camp for your viewing pleasure! Enjoy.

Whitefish Lake:

Water was one of the themes of our trip; starting with a jump into the Bow River right between the end of a 3.5hr rollerski from Canmore up towards Lake Louis and a 5hr van ride to our lodgings in Whitefish “Big Sky Country”. Many a gainer (running back flip) was attempted off the end of this dock after a workout.

Top of Big Mountain:

In the afternoon of day 2 we climbed Big Mountain, following a sweet gym workout in the morning. It’s Big Sky Country for a reason.

Dinner:

“I don’t usually take pictures of food, but when I do it usually tends to be almost all gone.” I roomed with Mike and Chris for the camp and, I gotta say, we ate pretty well! Here you see a salad with one of the tastiest dressings I’ve ever had, potato wedges and hamburgers (all curtsy of Chris), set to the backdrop of Whitefish Lake, and Mike’s right hand.

Cross Country Canada Truck:

You know you’re going places when the support vehicle for you workout says “CANADA” on it!! Sweeet!

Elevation change:

On Monday the 19th we ran up the mountain again as a recovery workout in the afternoon. Both times we climbed Big Mountain we took the gondola down and promptly drove back to our condos on the lake–a total vertical drop of over 1km! I didn’t open my waterbottles until I got back to the Condo and I found them looking slightly more squiggly than I remembered them to look.

800 meters:

Tuesday was a zone3 day! As mentioned above, Big Mountain afforded us some sweet vertical. We took advantage of this fact by doing a rollerski workout on the road up to the base of the ski resort. After 5 8min reps of Z3 Yannick’s watch read just over 800m. I was so stoked I set this nice looking number to the backdrop of some dead trees at the top of Big Mountain.

Hungry Horse Dam and Swix Stars:

Wednesday’s workout was a dam good time! 4hrs of skate and classic beside the reservoir of the tallest dam I’ve ever seen. To my excitement the road traversed the top of the damn and then along the reservoir to the right, through the burnt out forests.

Whitefish Fun Run race shirt:

As we neared the end of the camp the day dawned that everyone had been waiting for. A day much anticipated for the legendary event which it held. The one, the only, The Whitefish Friends and Family Fun Run. Known for its spectacularly flat terrain and cotton participation shirts, I was particularly excited for this event because it was too be my first 10km running race! After psyching myself up with the help of Viking Death March by Billy Talent, and working through a solid 50ish min warm up, I was ready. Goals for the day? Stick with my team-mates as long as possible and don’t get beat by a coach–Stef and Chris J. were both racing!
The starter raised her revolver into the air (seriously, it was a legit 6 shot cowboy pistol) and… bang! We were off!
To put a lot of pain into just a few words:
Jess lead off the start with 3min/km pace, which led to me getting dropped by my teammates a fair bit faster than I’d hoped. Just over a half hour after I fell off the pace I crossed the finish line in a sprint–narrowly accomplishing my other goal of not being beat by one of the coaches!
I don’t think my legs have ever hurt that much in a ski race.

Glacier National Park and Yours Truly:

Having completed a 10km running race on the previous day, one would think that running would be off the schedule for our final day of the camp. Well, one would be wrong.
To finish our awesome camp off in epic style we made our way up the Road to The Sun in Glacier National Park. I had heard from my teammates that Glacier Park was a solid setting for epic workouts, and after our annual rollerski up The Road to The Sun (which would have taken the place of the Hungry Horse Dam rollerski) was canceled due to the Girls being told off for rollerskiing there a day or two beforehand, I was really looking forward to getting a taste of the Park before our return to Canada.
The trail that we ran climbed about 700m vertical over the course of our 3hr run so that we finished up at just over 2000m altitude, and it took us through some of the most spectacular terrain that I’ve had a chance to run through, yielding many good opportunities to stare off majestically into the distance (see above). The only drawback of the trail was the number of other people on it! Every 500m or so I would call out another “hello!” or “thanks!” or “good day to you fine gentlemen!” to hikers who moved over to their side of the single track to let us by.

Back in Canmore:

With our drive back home ending at the Nordic Centre, Mike gave Kevin and I a lift back to our houses. Yep, all that stuff belongs solely to Kevin, Mike and I. Nope, thankfully the back of the truck did not look like that for the 5hr ride home from the States.

Bonus Pictures:

Burnt out trees in Glacier National Park

Ground Squirrel shoe inspection in Glacier National Park. My Salomons past the test (duh)

Hey, it’s the Great Wall of China! We did an out and back on this tourist boardwalk thing to finish off the 3hrs in Glacier Park. It was even busier than the other trail. Can you spot Alex running by the tourists?

Well, I’m heading back east to visit my family tomorrow so I gotta get my sleep now! Until next time,

Dream Big, People!

Update from Montana + A Point Of Interest

Dear blog readers,
Unfortunately I will not be posting the awesome blog full of pictures today about my camp in Whitefish Montana, which I promised two weeks ago.

Why?

Because I’m only half way through my training camp in Whitefish, the intra-web here sucks, and I’ll be putting up an even-more awesome blog post next week–full of pictures–about the entire camp!! Stay tuned.

Before I get back to enjoying the many hours of training I’ve gotta do here in Big Sky Country, I have a point of interest to share!

Me, my teammate Seb Townsend and Quebec training center skier Dominique Moncion-Groulx are holding a fundraiser running race at Camp Fortune ski hill in Chelsea Quebec on September 7th!!! The proceeds from the race will help support the three of us in our continued pursuit of skiing excellence, but, most importantly, we want to have an event to help encourage younger skiers coming up through the system in our home region. To this end we plan to:
– lead the Juvenile/Midget age skiers in a warm up before the race
– do a talk after the race about what it’s like training at a high level/at a training center in Canada.
– establish this race as an annual event to raise funds in the future for other local, highlevel Under-23 age skiers who don’t have federal sport carding
– give out cool draw prizes after the race!


If you are in the area on September 7th and you’d like to race check out our Facebook Page for details and register on Zone4!

If you can’t race but you think you’d like to help out with Volunteering contact me at zeke2will@yahoo.ca


Anyway, check back next week for an awesome blog update about my adventures in the US of A!

Dream Big, People! 

Recovery

With recovery being the theme of the past week for me, I don’t have any cool training stories/pictures to regale you guys with this time round, instead I meander my way through my recovery philosophy and the challenges of applying it to real life.

As my old coach Mike Vieira says: “Wolverine would be the perfect athlete; his body regenerates instantly so he could load on tough workouts indefinitely and he would just keep getting fitter and fitter! He would be the best xc skier ever!!” *Also, Wolverine has sweet claws and sideburns.

Unfortunately, not all of us have super regenerative powers, sweet claws or sideburns (I do happen to possess one of these traits though… can ya guess which?).
Because of these shortcomings, getting solid rest is absolutely 100% as important for us mortals as throwing down during workouts–indeed, if you don’t get good rest when you’re supposed to you won’t be able to “throw down” during workouts at all! When you’re out there pounding the pavement (no matter what surface your “pavement” happens to be) during your favourite workout you are damaging your body. When you’re lying down for a nap, your water bottle half full (that’s right, half full) beside you, that’s when your body is actually becoming stronger. That’s when your muscles are repairing themselves from your solid gym workout or from your sweet interval set.

So be patient young padawan; treat your time between workouts as sacred and the nordic-skiing-force will become strong in you!

Me, recovering HARD.



For me, time between workouts has been plentiful these last few days as I happened to be on a rest week! Rest weeks always provide a bit of a conundrum for me because on one side I feel like I should be following all of my above recovery related advice to a T, but on the other side I really want to stray a bit from my usual “what is the best possible activity I can do at this moment in time to ensure ‘great success’ come Winter?” I mean, getting solid physical recovery is all well and good but you do need some time to distract your mind from the rigours of ski training so that when you get back to it you can feel physically and mentally refreshed. So that’s the rest week kicker for me: how to best balance the mental and the physical sides of the recovery equation. I guess you just gotta play around with it for yourself and see what gets you to the start of your next big training block feeling like you’re ready to take on the world.

Whatever the case is, this rest week has been a good time, but, as they say, “all good things must give way to better things” (that is the saying, right?). And this good rest week is giving way to another 3 week block of better-than-ever training!

Dream Big, People!

P.S. I’m off to Whitefish Montana for a training camp this month so look for a sweet blog write up, with pics, in the next blog post!

Volume

According to the Oxford Dictionaries online, the definition of volume most relevant to my usage of it in this blog is “an amount or quantity of something, especially when great”. When it comes to training, volume (i.e. zone1 training) is great for a number of reasons. Volume is great because–if you are training properly–it will make up the majority of your training hours, a great, a vast, amount! Volume is great because it will always guarantee a certain amount of improvement: as my coach says: “you could complete only volume training all year long and, when the snow flies, you would still be a bit faster than last season”. Volume is great because volume workouts are so much fun!!
Hangin’ out at the top of the access road to Norquay after a 4hr rollerski. From left to right: Yannick, 2 Alberta Ski Team guys, Seb, me, more AST guys.
View from Norquay: that’s Banff down there.
I mean, in a volume workout you could cruise along through pristine boreal forest, letting your mind wander as you fall into the steady rhythm of diagonal stride or one skate. In a volume workout you could scramble along fallen logs, over boulders and up scree slopes on your way to summiting a mountain pass–a ribbon of singletrack winding its way up, up, up through the alpine vistas. In a volume workout you could lose yourself (quite literally) in dense pine forest when the trail you were supposed to be following turns out to be less of a trail than you had expected. Add some variety and you can make every volume workout a new adventure!
For me, volume has been the theme these last two weeks; I even happened to experience each of the three scenarios that I detailed in the last paragraph!

Now, with so much volume to cover it would be hard for me to give a synopses of all of it, so instead I’ll detail just one workout, debatably the funnest workout, that we did right in the middle of the two week block. Turn the clock back exactly one week…


Monday July 15th. Wake up at 7:35am. At 8:20am I have eaten my daily oatmeal packed some après-training clothes and some snacks, laced up my Speedcross 3s and I’m out the door. The meeting place today is the boat docks (there are actually no boat docks at the boat docks, interestingly enough). Hop in the van at the boat docks and it’s off to a “surprise” destination for training today! I like surprises. ETA to the surprise? 30min. We arrive at the trailhead locked and loaded; turns out the surprise destination today is Buller Pass: a trail that will take us up into the alpine terrain, with a total ascent of just around 700m vertical.

Now, from here the jog can be divided into 3 sections:

1st section:
The defining characteristic of the first section is wash-outs. Wash-outs and fallen trees, to be more precise. Thanks to the amazing flooding we had a few weeks ago, the beautiful Ribbon Creek trail, the trail that we would be following up towards the pass, had been more or less ruined by it’s namesake creek–whose valley it followed. This basically meant that the first part of the jog required some awesome ninja skills for fording creeks (read, slipping on rocks and falling in creeks) and sweet balance-beam log crossings. Segment one ended after about an 1:45, when we got to a picturesque waterfall and started going up more steeply.

2nd section:
The second section was between the waterfall and the summit. 15min or so down the line after the waterfall, we hit the section of “trail” that Mike had mentioned at the start of our hike, when he told us to “make sure you have at least 3 people for the chains–one to go for help, one to comfort and one to die in agony.” Fun. The chains lived up to my expectations in the form of several lengths of chain drilled into the side of a cliff so as to give some form of safety hold for what was basically the closest thing to rock climbing you can get to without actually rock climbing. Thankfully we made it safe and sound.
At the top of the chains we ran through some more forest, past Ribbon Lake and then up through beautiful alpine meadows spotted with snow (yes, we did surprise the guys behind us with a snowball ambush). Eventually, the alpine meadows (some of the most beautiful terrain I’ve been through) gave way to rocks as we scrambled our way up the last 100m or so of vert. to the summit of the pass! Pretty views and some hail were the main attractions of this part of the run.
Top of the world!! Or, more accurately, top of the pass.

Looking down at the descent. Photo creds to Chris for these last two!
3rd section:
The descent. This made up the last hour or so of the hike and was mostly comprised of super-fun downhill running (I wanna go fast!) through some crazy epic burnt out forests. I had so much fun on this workout that, up until about 20min to go I really didn’t want it to end…. but once we hit just over the 3hr mark in what was supposed to be a 2:5hr workout, my legs started complaining.
Finally, we made it out of the woods, to finish what was one of the coolest adventure runs I’ve done.

Well, hopefully that give some insight into what a “typical” volume workout with the Academy is like! Jump back in time to the present and I’ve just made it through a rest day and am ready to finish up the last hard week in this four week block of training. For those of you interested in numbers here are some stats from the last two weeks:


Week 1 total: 22:44hrs
Week 2 total: 21:05hrs
Number of 4hr workouts: 3
Number of workouts: 19
Average z1 heart rate: 139
Mountains climbed: 2
Cycling races watched: 1
Washing machine loads: 2
Awesome scree slopes descended: 1
Majestic elk seen: 2
Sun burns: 2 occasions
Sunscreen bottles exploded in backpack: 1 (this sucked)
Eggo-style waffles eaten: 12
Hours of sleep not including naps: 130
Clif Bars eaten: approx. 22
Number of naps: not enough (you can never have enough)


In whatever volume workouts you may encounter, remember to Dream big, people!