Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 4: Classic Skiing

Weekly e-mail preview:

When:  Tuesday May 31st, 6:30pm  
Where:  Battle Creek Water Park
What: Classic Rollerskiing
Coaches: Ben P, Mike N

Classic Rollerskiing - look out, here we come.  Learn to do it, or specific strength DP for those more advanced.

Got myself some Pursuit Rollerskis from Rollerskishhop.com and the last pair of Salomon Pilot bindings from Backcountry.com. I do have to say that I am a little worried about this: concrete and blacktop are quite a bit harder than even icy snow. But I am trusting that our able instructors Ben and Mike will be conveying the necessary skills and I am also going invest in some protective gear.

There was a surprise when I arrived, apparently Ben had gotten hurt at the very end of our last session. He tore a muscle in his calf, just while standing and supervising us. It sounds like he won't be able to do anything strenuous for three months and sure enough, he showed up with a leg brace and compression sock.

Since I don't own classic or combi roller skis I skated. There was a short warm-up in the water park lot while waiting for the stragglers. A few wobbles but nothing too dangerous. My main issue using rollerskis for the first time was putting them on. No problem with ski one, but ski two was problematic. At the car, I sat on the back, hatch open, and later, trail side, I used a fence post for support. No real problem and shaking the skis off wasn't an issue, either.

Warm-up continued when rolling from the water park lot to Lower Afton Rd. I was a bit worried about down hills but there was nothing major. After we got to the Lower Afton Rd. lot the real work began.

Series 1: 7 reps of legs only, emphasizing glide with one ski off the ground and bringing ctr. of gravity above push-off ski.

Series 2: 4 reps of crunch double poles, working the core. No help from the arms, not too much follow-through! Of course I hadn't been listening and used my arms too much. Both Mike and Ben yelled "you're cheating." I got closer to good form in the further sequences.

Series 3: 3 reps of full arm push, crunch and follow-through.

Cool down completing the loop back to water park. There was at least one downhill with a sharp turn at the bottom. Twigs and leaves on the ground didn't do anything to increase my comfort level but I made it.

A word about my Pursuit Rollerskis: they worked great though I will invest in a pair of the slowest wheels. They did seem quite a bit faster than the Marwes, which almost everyone else was using. After getting used to being on rollerskis, they felt nimble, very similar to being on actual skis, allowing to maneuver by quick stepping. I do miss that full snow plow, though ...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 3: Bounding

Weekly e-mail preview:
What: Tuesday Night SISU - Dryland (bring short poles)
Where: Battle Creek Winthrop St.
When: Tuesday, May 24th, 6:30pm,
Notes: Bounding @ battle creek Winthrop. Bring your short poles and lets learn how to bound – makes us fit and ski fast!

About halfway up the gradual hill (Photo by Ben Popp)
Bummer, my Garmin Forerunner 305 was not charged, I don't have the metrics. I would have loved to see my heart rate as I arrived at the top of the hill. Today's session included a 15' easy warm-up, a series of 7 reps of hill runs, or rather bounds with poling. This was the "easy" portion, on a long and gradual climb, 200 m or so. Hard work, especially when trying to do it right.

From there we moved to the sledding hill next to the community center where did some technical exercises to improve form: explosive push, arm swing, landing, balance, bounding always up the steep incline. The session  concluded with a series of 3 reps with bounding and poling up to the top of the sledding hill.

As I said, no Garmin metrics but a picture, courtesy of Ben!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Orienteering at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park (Red Course)

2011 MNOC spring orienteering meets seem to be marked by water. It rained yesterday during the day, at night, overnight and this morning. It rained hard during the drive to Northfield and more rain from Northfield to the Big Woods. I hurried putting my O-gear on in the parking lot, unsuccessfully trying to dodge raindrops. I hurried to the shelter for registration and to the tent where I waited for my start. As I started the clock at 11:18 the rain stopped but I knew full well that this would be a wet one anyway.

The short jog across the parking lot should be one of the few dry areas I would encounter during this meet. As I dropped into the first valley, the runoff from the from the parking lot stayed with me. In spite of the steep grade there was standing water everywhere. Game trails and later park paths were worse, typically sporting ankle-deep water. I jumped the creek, from a high bank to a sandy area, delaying fording for a while. I hit CP1 square on the nose. Following the lead of an ROTC kid, I used a downed tree to delay fording some more. CP2 was not difficult either and CP3 didn't seem difficult either. Boy, was I wrong.

I had promised myself after the last meet that I would take the initial controls easy, but I must have thrown caution to the wind after success at the the easy CP1 and 2. Somehow I veered too far to the east and got completely turned around. I finally found my bearings again near the falls/dam on the creek. I made 2 extra kilometers and lost about 25 minutes. Major bummer, but as usually in orienteering I had only myself to blame.

Fortunately and as usual, things were looking up from here. I have a sense that the more out of breath I am the better my brain works, I have to put this to a test sometime, maybe by running a Yellow before my main event. The route I plotted to CP4 worked beautifully, following one of the submerged trails. I was on the right track to CP5 as well, aiming for the corner of a rectangular open area. I was looking for the ruined fence and thought I had to move a little further east when the fence told me by way of a deep gash that I had arrived. No further issues with CP5, CP6 through 11 were easy, too.The constant sloshing through water and muck were starting to take their toll on me, though. I made one odd observation at CP9, which was a fork in a stream: one of the arms of the stream had a completely dry albeit soft sandy bottom.

I think that going from CP11 to 12 I made the wrong route choice by returning to the trail and bridge instead of wading across and taking the direct route, using the edge of the plateau to move towards CP12. I did find it without difficulties and had except for starting to feel quite exhausted no trouble with CP13 and the finish either.

Running the course in 2:03:41, I finished 11th out of 25. My one major screw up on CP3 cost me at least 25 minutes and 3-5 places . Learn to live another day ... See results here.

Spent, at the finish. Photo courtesy of Andrei Karpoff
My Inov8 Mudclaw 330 did not give me any trouble this time in spite of constant immersion in water, mud and several waded stream crossings. They collected quite a bit of silt and sand on the way, which did not bother me. The deepest stretch of wading was from CP5 to 6, where the water reached up to my waist.  Despite the wetness and my poor performance from CP2 to 3, I liked the the course a lot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 2: Benchmarks

Weekly e-mail preview:

What: Tuesday Night SISU  - Dryland (bring short poles)
Where: Battle Creek Winthrop St.
When: Tuesday, May 17th, 6:30pm,

Workout:  20' easy warmup | Benchmarks!!

3x 1.22km slow-medium-80%

Double bump run at 90%

Joined-feet leaps over 50 ft uphill (on sledding hill)
11 joined-feet leaps
9 joined-feet leaps & double-poling

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 1: Bounding, Mostly

I was lured in by SISU Skiers’ copy from their flyer available on their website:

ST. PAUL YEAR-ROUND-TUESDAY NIGHT 5.10.11 – 2.14.12 (41 sessions)
The Year-Round Sisu Training program is ideal for the citizen racer or outdoor enthusiast who will benefit from the extensive ski experience of our coaches, as well as the opportunity to meet other skiers with similar interests. By breaking into smaller groups of comparable experience and ability for each training session, we are able to customize the instruction to the needs of our participants. Regardless of your level of condition at the beginning of the program, or your area of interest – racing, cross training, or recreational skiing – you will learn how to increase your proficiency and fitness as a skier. Roller skis required. Summer/fall sessions will alternate between dryland training and rollerskiing, with snow skiing come winter.
A little more intensity focused, training oriented, very high quality workout, still some technique. Workouts completed in a smaller confined area so different levels of skiers can be accommodated. Work on technique at speed.
FOCUS: Fitness, Training Periodization, Ski specific Intensity/Power workouts (ski, rollerski & foot)
COACHES: Ben Popp, Mike Nightingale
TIME/LOCATION: Tuesday, 6:30am, Battle Creek

I think I have a decent base level of fitness and I try to inject a weekly high intensity workout which is too easy to drop this when I am feeling not up to par. Hence, I see this group as an opportunity to follow a program led by experienced coaches that will improve my overall fitness and help me to improve my ski-specific condition and skill set.

To prove the point: during the first session Battle Creek Park on May 10, I was recovering from a cold. On this first hot day of the year (30C/86F), I would have probably decided to take a rest day but I felt this was not an option. I did not regret it, as the workout and the group dynamic was great.

The workout consisted of series of hill runs and lunges, focusing on an explosive kick movement to simulate the kick in cross-country skiing. The exercises consisted of

• 6 series uphill stepping, focusing on kicking motions, returning downhill by making long steps backwards
• "double bump" run focusing on kicking push in the uphill segments
• 6 series of two-leg jumps, trying to land and balance on one foot
• 2 series of backward lunges
• 3 series of two-leg backward skips, 10-15 each.

All segments were separated by jogging or fast walking.

GarminConnect elevation profile and heart rate graphs speak for themselves.
I added the labels for the segments
I did not perceive the workout as too hard during the session but I had seriously sore calf muscles on the following two four to five days, pointing out that the explosive nature of the drills was an item lacking from my own exercise routine.

I did an easy version of my normal 6 km jog on Thursday which helped get rid of the lactic acid in my calves. I am looking very much forward to the next session!