By Garrett Butts
Fall is here! But not for long...
Since the last update, just about the only thing that has changed is that I now have more classes on my plate than I did before. But, to be honest, not a whole lot of interesting things have happened. I've settled into a nice rhythm with training and school, oh and of course watching the Tour de France! With all that, I have managed to stay quite busy, which I can certainly be grateful for! We have had our fair share of lovely fall days here in AK, and the colors have been equally brilliant. The temperatures have certainly started to drop, and every once and a while you can see a light blanket of snow sprinkled on the peaks above Anchorage. As I mentioned in the last update, I had been dealing with a couple of injuries, but through perseverance and no doubt a bit of stubbornness, I can confidently say that both injuries have healed and I have been able to get back to a more normal training regime. Hopefully I can remain uninjured and healthy for the rest of the season, as is every athlete's hope. As the season's change, a slight shift in training is also occurring...
Time Trials.. The Pros and Cons
In all sports, there is periodization. No matter the definition, there is no arguing that sports in general all have their own respective phases. For many endurance athletes, it's common to train more and more specifically as the season nears. As for us nordies, we are starting to get closer to the competition phase, so the focus generally narrows a bit. For me this translates to a slight decrease in overall training volume, and an increase in intensity. Without getting into the specifics too much, a good (or bad) way to do that is by implementing time trials into training...
Time trials can be a great addition to spice training up a bit! Until now, a lot of training time has been spent logging in distance hours and a large portion of Level 3 intervals(roughly 85ish% max), so it's been a while since you really got to rev the engine. This is one reason why time trials can be highly effective. They remind the body what it's like to go as hard as you can, to race, go absolutely full gas, open up the throttle, throw down the gauntlet, & lower the BOOM! You get the picture. Often without race like efforts before important races your body may feel sluggish and won't be able to optimally perform because it's not used to such intense efforts. Doing time trials in the Fall is also a great way to measure improvements from time trials done in the Spring, and they can certainly improve your high end efficiency (among other things). They also allow for opportunities to test things like pre race meals, warm-up routines, day before training, etc, so that when you get to the starting line you are dialed in and ready to go. Furthermore, adding time trials now can highlight areas of weaknesses where more time should be spent in training to make further improvements with the time left before the season opener.
While there are numerous advantages to implementing time trials into training, there are other things that you might want to take into consideration. One of the biggest things that can have a negative effect on a potentially golden opportunity, is having the wrong mindset. Personally I have been there. It's easy to get distracted in comparing & analyzing variables such as rollerski speeds, weather conditions, training loads, one's strengths and weaknesses, etc...I like to recognize such variables, but also keep it all in perspective and judge my performance accordingly. Off season TTs can play mind games, so it's always best to look for areas for improvement and if applicable, appreciate gains made from previous tests. For most of us, there are 8+ weeks left before our first ski races, so regardless of any TT performance, there's lots of time to continue improving!
Until next time! Keep training smart, and enjoy the warmer temps while they last!