I have been asked two questions quite often in the last few weeks. First: “How do you train for skiing during the summer?”. And the second, posed by fellow skiers: “How do you train for skiing – in Kingston?”. I’ll try to answer these questions by presenting a typical week of my summer training.
To complicate things, I’ll start with the caveat that a typical week doesn’t really exist for me. With a variable work schedule, and training weeks which vary in training volume, every week brings its own challenges. So far, my training weeks have varied from 7 to 18 hours of training. Last week was a nice 12 hour week so let’s have a look at it!
I try to start every day with a hearty bowl of porridge, fit in some arm strength exercises, and finish each day with some stretching and a good nights’ sleep to stay healthy.
Monday: Many folks combining work and training like to take Monday off to recover from their big weekend training sessions. Despite my irregular work schedule I honour this tradition. On this particular Monday I went to work and in the evening had a game of frisbee with the Kingston Sport and Social Club. Besides being a lot of fun, frisbee (or more accurately – “ultimate”) is a great opportunity to work on agility, speed, and hand-eye coordination.
When I described my work and training schedule to one of my friends, she astutely remarked: “You must not have much of a social life!”. Unfortunately there is quite a bit of truth to her statement. Getting out to play a team sport is a nice addition to the week.
Tuesday: Tuesday brought a running workout on the track. My attempts to use the track in the morning were foiled by a horde of elementary school children using the stadium for a track meet. (In actuality I’m thrilled to see the facilities being used – our school age children need more physical education time during the day!) I returned in the evening to train in the sunset and under the stadium lights. I spent a total of an hour and three quarters at the track which included a warm up, running technique exercises, various plyometrics to improve leg strength, some 60m sprints, and some repeats of 400m runs. I also did some throwing of a weighted medicine ball which always gets me some funny looks as I do my best to imitate Sisyphus – running back and forth along the field, chasing the ball which I have just lobbed. All in all, a tiring evening.
Wednesday: I hopped on my new mountain bike and put in a good two hours on some nice, winding singletrack trails north of Kingston. I’m new to mountain biking so I’m still at the point where my technical ability is the limiting factor as opposed to my fitness. My first few days on the bike were a bit difficult, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. I enjoy the opportunity to learn a new physical skill – something we do less and less of in our adult lives. The last time I took up a new sport was five years ago when I began telemark skiing.
Thursday: It’s always nice to fit in two workouts into a day. My morning consisted of just over an hour and a half at the gym. As an avid outdoorsman this is not my favourite environment. I dislike the idea of people driving to the gym to train instead of simply walking and biking more in their daily lives. I dislike the culture gyms breed where having bulky muscles is viewed as being healthy, and where calories are viewed as something dangerous as opposed to a basic unit of energy. That being said, weights and various strength training equipment allow us skiers to strengthen specific muscles to prepare us for the ski season. Thursday evening brought a 75 minute run along the waterfront – unfortunately this took place in a cold rain. It’s important to learn to enjoy training in less than ideal conditions to build up some mental toughness which will come in handy when the racing season arrives.
Friday: This was a full 12hr work day. I contemplated going for an hour of swimming after dinner, but sometimes you have to know when to call it a day and get a good night’s sleep.
Saturday: Kingston is not particularly hilly, and hills are essential to effective training. Nothing can quite replicate the effort needed to drag your tired [m]ass up a steep incline. I often drive the two hours to Gatineau park to take advantage of their summer road closures. Rollerskiing on roads closed to automobile traffic is wonderful given the fact that rollerskis don’t have the best stopping abilities. The morning was spent on roller-skis, with some quick double pole (arms only) sprints, and a few 3 minute intervals at an intermediate (zone 3) heart rate. An excellent option for rollerskiing in Kingston is to take the ferry to Wolfe Island where the roads offer a good surface, little traffic, and friendly drivers. After lunch and a reinvigorating nap, I hopped on my road bike for a nice two hour ride. While a 50-60km ride in Kingston might bring me 300m of elevation gain, Gatineau park will easily give me three times as much, and provides long sustained hills which are hard to find in Kingston – though I continue to explore the surrounding roads and am finding some beautiful areas near home.
Sunday: An excellent training activity for ski training is the sport of orienteering. Like mountain biking it’s another sport which I’ve taken up only recently, and in which my technical abilities lag far behind my fitness. It’s a fascinating sport which combines trail (or lack-thereof) running, and navigational skills with map and compass. Orienteering is excellent interval training, and it keeps the mind sharp as well. This week’s event took place at Pinhey’s Point Historic Site on the Ottawa River, and had us running comically close to a wedding ceremony.
Overall, I’m able to complete most of my training in Kingston, and it has the benefit of a fresh breeze coming off lake Ontario to cut some of the summer humidity. What I really enjoy about summer training is the variety of activities, which keeps things interesting, and allows me to participate in different sports with different groups of friends. Some other activities I use to train are kayaking and running with poles, and rock climbing – I’m sure that I will get a chance to write about those later in the summer. Happy training!