Sunday, May 31, 2015

Altitude Camp

Caitlin and I have had good luck with altitude training over the years.  Most recently with our altitude camp at 9,000 feet in Frisco, CO leading up to the 2015 World Championships.   We have received a lot of guidance and direction from personal experience, research, Randy Wilbur with the US Olympic Committee, and Olympic Champion Billy Demong.  Altitude training will be a key part of our training plan this year.  We are excited to be be living at 8,150 feet in Deer Valley, UT for a four week camp to kick off the ski season.  The last two weeks we have been training with the US Ski Team and it has been fantastic.  I have always been a fan of training with athletes who are faster than you and the entire US Ski Team A and B teams were in town for the camp.  
Noah Hoffman and I post 5*6 min L4
It is fantastic to train with the National Team crew and I found myself pushed in pretty much all of the workouts.  Last year I did not do a group training camp in May and it lead to a slow start to the training year.  It is great to get be back in full on training mode.  The first day of camp was actually my first day off of antibiotics and a nasty sore throat that kept me sidelined for the first two weeks of May.  A big focus for Caitlin and I is double pole this year.  This became a larger goal after getting destroyed in two different double pole interval sessions by the other guys.  I do look at this as a positive though, because it means I have a lot of room to improve in this area.
Enjoying a 4 year wedding anniversary ski on the roller ski track at Soldier Hollow
One of my favorite places to race is at Soldier Hollow, home of the 2002 Olympic Cross Country ski races.  There is a 5 km paved loop that follows the ski trails and flows just as if you were skiing on the trails with snow on them.

Nitrogen Bath
One of the big names in altitude training is Jim Stray Gunderson.  Many of the papers and studies on altitude training have been done by him and he lives here in Park City and works out of the USSA's Center of Excellence. I have really enjoyed talking with him about altitude training and look forward to dialing in our altitude plan with him.  He performed a hemoglobin mass base line test on us to help us see what kind of response our bodies have to the altitude during our weeks here.  He was helping a runner recover from a training session with what I can only describe as a nitrogen bath.  He asked if we wanted to give it a try.  You stand in this dunk tank and liquid nitrogen is pumped in making it super cold but only for a few minute burst.  I honestly had to google it when I returned home:  I felt great the next day for training, but I think an ice bath might be a bit easier.

Caitlin and Antje Harvey with their World Championship Bronze Medals
Over the last 9 years, Caitlin and I have been sponsored by Toko gloves, wax and tools.  Ian Harvey is the US Brand manager for Toko and he and his wife Antje live in Heber, UT near Soldier Hollow.  We joined the Olympic duo for lunch between training sessions.  It was pretty fun to see Caitlin and Antje with the bronze medals.  The medals are identical designs, even though they were earned 30 years apart.  Both of the girls are a little shy about showing off their medals, but I find it hugely inspiring.  One of my goals here in Park City is to get to see Billy Demong's gold medal.  Naively I didn't even realize that Antje had 4 Olympic medals from the '92 and '94 Olympics in biathlon.  Caitlin knew her history though and Antje pulled out the box with them so we could admire them.  They are beautiful.

I am so excited for this season.  I have had a good last two weeks of training but it is clear to me that I am not in very good shape right now and have a lot of work to do this summer in training and recovery.  The good thing is that I am hungrier than ever to put in the the work and enjoy the rewards.

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