Approach to training
My approach to training has developed massively over the years; from having absolutely no structure to being fairly structured and following what I consider a more developed training ethos.
Today I split my training into different phases depending on the time of year and when my races are. Training varies somewhat throughout each phase as well, but in a nutshell they can loosely be described as follows:
Key workouts: Lots of long and easy cross training or running, longer intervals at a comfortably hard effort level either skiing or running, heavier strength workouts to develop strength
Duration: 3 – 4 months
Quantity: 20 – 35 hours per week (10 000m – 15 000m of vertical climb)
Key workouts: Harder shorter and longer intervals running, race simulation running, easy recovery running or cross training, lighter strength workouts to maintain strength
Duration: 2 months
Quantity: 15 – 25 hours per week (5 000m – 10000m vertical climb)
Key workouts: Similar intervals to sharpening but less quantity, easy recovery runs or cross training, minimal (if any) strength workouts
Duration: 2 – 3 weeks depending on duration between races
Quantity: 5 – 15 hours per week (3 000m – 6 000m vertical climb)
My training philosophy, in short, is: to make training as fun as possible as this will mean I will do more of it, cross train a lot to minimise the risk of injury (and make training more varied and fun), plan sessions as much around the weather as the days of the week, get enough rest (and don’t get too caught up in hitting a certain duration / distance / climb per week) and make sure I am actually improving as opposed to grinding myself into the ground by doing too much.
For recovery I am a big believer in putting your feet up and sleeping. Over the years I have dallied with lots of different things like muscle stimulators to foam rolling and stretching; they all seem to have some effect, but I am not religiously doing any of them. The main thing is to relax so your body can actually heal, something I am not great with because I am likely thinking about my training load, what the next session is or if I am recovering. One of the best pieces of advice for recovering from training is probably to assess the quantity and or intensity of your sessions. I try not to give 110 % or “race” too many workouts as this means longer recovery time before the next quality session. Continuity in training is key and good-but-not-amazing workouts is therefore preferable in the long run.
The psychological side of sport is a minefield. I tend to try and negate most problems here by downplaying the importance of everything from big races to key training sessions. By using the “no big deal” approach you relieve lots of pressure and end up performing better. If I have a smile on my face I know I will race my best so most of my energy goes into making this a possibility.
Race preparation and strategy
Race prep and strategy can make or break a result. Testing everything is the best way to be prepared and most people will firstly think of equipment and nutrition. Great, but don’t forget to test yourself too. Test how your body will react to the race climate, terrain, effort level, test what it’s like to wake up at the same time as on race day and what eating breakfast will be like. Even simple things like setting a watch alarm to remind you to sip some water every 10-15 minutes can make or break a race. You can even go as far as testing the actual race course if you have the chance.
Racing is as much about being smart as it is about being physically fit. Analyse previous race strategies, remember what worked or what didn’t and tweak things moving forward. Visualize key parts of the race and picture how you will perform during in them.