SAVE THE DATE–ASPEN NORDIC CELEBRATION

Save the Date of Thursday, November 17th from 5-7 p.m. for the annual Aspen Nordic Celebration and Rocky Mountain Nordic Angel fundraiser at The Limelight Hotel. We will have free pizza and beer and a great silent auction. The event has become the kickoff to the Nordic season in Aspen, and it is always an incredible party. The event always overwhelms me with the amazing support of the Aspen community, and I am so grateful that we are continuing the tradition this year. I can’t wait to see you there!

Time Constraints

I really enjoy blogging. From the summer of 2012 to the spring of 2015 I posted nearly daily on this site. As a result, I felt incredibly well connected to an amazing community of friends and supporters. I miss the sense of fulfillment that blogging gave me. I miss the challenge of posting everyday. I miss the valuable feedback that readers of my blog provided. I miss the sense of accomplishment that I gained from telling my story.

When I decided to cut back on my blogging, I intended to continue to post regularly, say once or twice a week. However, I have found that an abstract commitment like “once or twice a week” means that blogging is always the thing that gets cut out of my day. The longer I procrastinate posting an update, the more daunting of a task it becomes because there is so much more material to cover. And here I am, updating for the first time in three months.

Here is how I would summarize the priorities of how I’ve chosen to spend my time this summer:

First priority: Scheduled Training

Second priority: yoga, home exercises, scheduled appointments, “phone time” (reading news alerts, texting, high priority e-mails), certain social opportunities

Third priority: napping, cool down stretches, other social activities, talking on the phone with close friends and family

Fourth priority: To-do list items (lower priority e-mails, business side of being an athlete, laundry, etc…)

Blogging could fall under “business side of being an athlete” but it basically hasn’t even made the list this summer.

I do not envision myself returning to consistent blogging until the conclusion of my athletic career. Though I believe it provided me with real value, it is not important enough to me to make it a higher priority.

I will still maintain this website and will post here occasionally when I have more time (in the winter when the training load is much lower) and when I’m feeling inspired. I have been fairly consistent about posting photos to Instagram (@hoffnoah) and my Facebook athlete page (@noahhoffmanskier), so I encourage you to follow me on those channels.

Additionally, last week I did a short (15 minute) podcast with George Thomas for Acceleration, the Official Podcast of the U.S. Ski Team. You can listen to it here. George and I are planning to do this podcast weekly through the fall and winter. I’m hoping that people will enjoy it as a new way to keep up with me, and that it will be a good substitute for my blog. I will be posting each new episode on this site and on Facebook.

As I posted about in the spring (here and here), I am training a lot more this year than I have previously. The volume has been demanding and challenging. Since I started my training season on April 4th, I’ve trained 560 hours. To give a picture of my big training weeks, here are my last seven days down here at the Snow Farm in New Zealand:

Thu, Sep 1, 16 Yoga Strength 0:30 Classic with Technique 2:30 Skate 2:00
Fri, Sep 2, 16 Yoga Strength 0:30 Skate with Speeds 3:00 Classic 1:45
Sat, Sep 3, 16 Merino Muster 42km Race Merino Muster Race 2:30 Run 2:30
Sun, Sep 4, 16 Classic 2:00 Off
Mon, Sep 5, 16 Skate 5:30 Off
Tue, Sep 6, 16 Yoga Strength 0:30 Classic L3 Intensity. 6 by 7.5 minutes. 3 classic, 3 double pole 2:00 Skate 3:00
Wed, Sep 7, 16 Yoga Strength 0:30 Classic 3:00 Run 2:00

It is very difficult to tell if I am setup to make a big step forward in results this year. All of the indicators about my training have been good: My Firstbeat Recovery Index has been stable, my perceived energy and fatigue levels have been manageable and I have performed well in a series of running races this summer. However, the true test of the changes that I’ve made don’t come until the winter. In the meantime, I am still very excited about and committed to the plan as my coaches and I outlined it in the spring.

I have stopped carrying my camera (and I never carried a phone) while I train, so I have almost no pictures from my workouts this summer. Here is a selection of pictures from my social activities:

I’ve played lots of cornhole.

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Training Specifics

I don’t have any new pictures since my post on Monday. My training is and will continue to be simple and repetitive this summer, so I don’t have and won’t have cool pictures from adventures. Almost all of my training is done either in the house (for strength or SkiErging) or beginning from the door, so I’m only roller skiing, running and biking on the roads and trails in the immediate Park City area. Luckily, there are tons of single track trails all around the town and numerous (at least 100 miles) of roller ski loops that can be combined in different ways. Keeping my training simple and eliminating any time spent commuting has allowed me to increase the amount of time spent recovering between sessions and in the evening before bed. I believe this simple schedule will allow me to handle the increased training load that I described in Monday’s post.

In my planning this spring, I outlined my “perfect training day”. Of course, I am not a robot and I rarely have a day that even resembles this schedule, but this gives me an outline to strive towards.

  • 6am Alarm
  • 6:20am Light Breakfast
  • 6:45am Mobility then Strength
  • 8am Full Breakfast
  • 8:30am Morning Workout
  • 11:30am Cool Down Stretches
  • 12pm Lunch
  • 1pm Nap
  • 3:30pm Afternoon Meal
  • 4:30pm Afternoon Workout
  • 6:30pm Cool Down Stretches
  • 7:30pm Dinner
  • 9pm Electronics Off
  • 9:30pm Night Snack then Bed
  • 10pm Sleeping

I mentioned in my post on Monday that many of the additional hours that I will train this year will come from elimination “junk” days. Here’s a look at all of my low training days over the 2015-16 training year:

  • 2015-16 (April 1-March 31)
    • Total Hours
      • 678
    • Missed, Compromised or Scheduled as Low Training Days
      • Off days in April: 25
      • Scheduled Off days for training (Summer and Winter): 15
      • Off Days or shortened Days due to “vacations” (Maggie’s wedding, fall desert trip, Quebec City and Davos “Break”): 11
      • Off Days or Compromised Training Days due to Travel: 36
      • Off days due to illness, injury or medical procedure: 1
      • Shortened training days due to technique work: 19
      • Days Limited to about an hour a day of training for posture project: 30
    • Total Days limited or off for all above reasons: 137 (37% of all days in the year)

So far the increased training load has gone well. I did not take a big break in April. Since April 1st I have trained 220 hours. My coaches and I have set the maximum number of hours for any two week block at 53, and I will be doing 53 hour two week blocks consecutively throughout the summer. Here is how the 53 hour blocks breakdown in terms of total number of training hours in each day. Again, I am not a robot and very few blocks will match this exactly, but this is the model we’re following:

  • Day 1: 5
  • Day 2: 5
  • Day 3: 5
  • Day 4: 2
  • Day 5: 5
  • Day 6: 5
  • Day 7: 5
  • Day 8: 2
  • Day 9: 5
  • Day 10: 5
  • Day 11: 5
  • Day 12: 2
  • Day 13: 0
  • Day 14: 2

I’ll try to have more interesting stories and a few pictures next time I post. My apologies for the very dry post.

Spring

It’s been a long time since I last posted. This post is clearly not going to be an all-encompassing review of everything I’ve done over the last two and a half months. My goal is simply to give a broad update of my training and to upload the best of the pictures that I’ve taken, so I can get back on a semi-regular blogging schedule.

After the conclusion of the World Cup season, my teammates and I headed to Craftsbury, Vermont for the US Super Tour Finals, the final event of the domestic racing calendar. After a long winter in Europe, it is often hard to motivate for one more week of racing at home, but it is a great opportunity to race against the domestic field and to see so many friends that we haven’t seen all winter long.

For me Craftsbury was a mixed bag. I paced the 15 kilometer skate race at the beginning of the series too aggressively. I started to fade on the last lap but held on for a narrow win thanks to Northern Michigan University’s Adam Martin, who started 30 seconds ahead of me and whom I had caught earlier in the race. When I started to slow on the last lap, Adam took the lead and showed me the pace I needed to ski. The second race of the series, a classic sprint, was my first opportunity since the Gallivare FIS races in November to ski in sprint heats. It was fun and a learning opportunity, but I didn’t make it through my quarterfinal, finishing fourth in my heat. The third race in Craftsbury was the National Championship Club Mixed-gender Relay. Since Ski and Snowboard Club Vail didn’t have any women in Craftsbury, Tad Elliott and I teamed up with two women from the Craftsbury club for an “illegitimate” team. Because we weren’t eligible for prize money or results, I took the opportunity to try double poling the 5 kilometer course on skate skis. I had never previously double poled a distance race. Because the course was fairly flat, I wasn’t even sure it would be slower than classic skiing but in retrospect it was. However, I learned a lot about double poling distance races. It was hard at the beginning but your arms recover faster than your legs or cardiovascular system, and I felt like I was fully recovering on the downhills more than I would have if I’d been classic skiing. I fell way behind on the first lap, but came back through some skiers on the second lap. The final race of the series was the important one, the 50 kilometer national championship race. We started in the afternoon in some of the slowest conditions I’ve ever raced in. The eventual winning time was an astronomical 2 hours and 44 minutes. The race was 15 laps of a 3+ kilometer loop. I felt very good for the first 10 laps. I had skied away from the field without putting in a deliberate attack. However, I didn’t feed well enough to match my aggressive skiing, and at the end of the race I suffered the worst sugar bonk of my career. In the final four laps I lost upwards of eight minutes on eventual winner Erik Bjornsen. I was seeing blurry and shaking. It was an awful feeling, and again, I learned a lot.

From Craftsbury I headed to Colorado to get the hardware removed from my left ankle. A plate, several screws and an artificial ligament had been in there since December 2014 after I broke my fibula in Kuusamo, Finland. Dr. Thomas Clanton of The Steadman Clinic, who did the original surgery and helped me get back for the 2015 World Championships, removed the hardware in a short and easy surgery. Physical therapist Ana Robinson helped me through the short recovery. I was weight-bearing after only a couple of days and out of the boot after only a week and a half. In two weeks I could do all activity except running, which I could do after six weeks. Once again, I am indebted to Dr. Clanton and Ana as well as my mom and the Ryerson family in Vail for helping me through another successful surgery and recovery.

While in Colorado I was able to spend some quality time with my grandmother. My grandfather passed away in March, and it was hard to be at their house without him. However, it was so nice to spend time with my grandmother and to see the incredible support that she is receiving from everybody in her life.

After completing the necessary physical therapy I headed to Aspen to meet with my coaches Zach Caldwell, who flew in from Vermont, and John Callahan, who lives in Aspen. As we do each year, we reviewed the last twelve months, discussing what went right and what went wrong in my skiing and my life, and made a plan for the future. In discussing the last twelve months, we talked about the posture project that I did last spring, which was a partial success, and all of the technique work that Zach and I did over the last twelve months, which was almost a complete failure. We talked about my results from the winter, which were more consistent than ever before with eight top-25 results on the World Cup, but which were very disappointing because there were no standout performances, and most of all, we talked about the fact that my training load over the last year had dropped significantly (to only 678 training hours) because we had pursued so many goals like the posture project and travel to snow that had required lowering the training load.

Looking ahead, we made some plans that are very different from what I’ve done in the past. My goal going into the meetings was to make a plan that was different enough from what I’ve done in the past that I could expect different results because I’m not interested in continuing to ski if 20th place on the World Cup continues to be a great day. Over the last five years I have prioritized improving my weaknesses (technique, strength and power) over improving my strengths (my aerobic capacity). This year, John and Zach and I decided to let me train the way I’ve always wanted to train, which is to say hard and a lot, without worrying much about my weaknesses and deficiencies as an athlete. This training season we are going to do very little technique work and travel. I will not be taking trips to Vermont for “technique blocks” and I will not be seeking out on-snow opportunities in addition to two U.S. Ski Team camps. I will not be travelling to train with other athletes, and I will not be doing many fun weekend trips. Instead, I’m going to take all of those extra days and train significantly more. My goal is to train around 1000 hours this year. The idea is that if I can become one of the fittest athletes on the world cup, which I believe I can, then I can win on the right day, even if I can’t win when the race is more about speed or finesse than fitness. With this plan we are still being mindful of the need to monitor training and energy levels. I’m training in new 2-week blocks, each of which will be broken down into three 3-day blocks, each separated by a single recovery day, followed by three days of recovery at the end of the two weeks.  I am continuing to collect heart rate data every night to monitor heart rate variability scores. My big days are not getting any bigger than they have been in the past, there are just more of them and fewer junk days. In addition to this new volume plan, my coaches and I, along with U.S. Ski Team strength coach Tschana Schiller, have developed a new strength program for the year. We have developed a series of 30 minute strength programs that I am doing four to five times a week first thing in the morning, separate from two aerobic sessions on those days. The strength sessions are short but very intensive. They are focused around challenging body weight core and upper body exercises. After having purchased some equipment, I can do these sessions at home and do not need to go to the gym at all this summer. I am very excited about the entire plan that my coaches and I developed in Aspen.

After meeting in Aspen, Zach and I swung by Montrose, Colorado to see my parents new house then picked up Zach’s wife and son in Grand Junction before heading to Moab, Utah for a week of riding mountain bikes. I’ve been riding bikes in Moab since I was ten years old, but I hadn’t been in a long time. In the five days we were there we hit many of the great trails, and I had so much fun relearning the incredible network.

From Moab I headed back to Park City to really begin the training season. I did three big weeks of training before taking off for my only true vacation of the year, a five day trip to Holbox Island, Mexico. The vacation was everything I dreamed it would be. Holbox is primarily a nature reserve and I had a ton of fun exploring it.

After returning from Mexico I headed to Bend, Oregon for the first U.S. Ski Team camp of the year. My teammates and I came into the camp ready to work as a team to get better, and we did a better job of pushing each other and training together than we had ever done before. The skiing at Mt. Bachelor was really good, and overall it was the best U.S. Ski Team camp of my career.

I am now back in Park City getting into the meat of the training season.

Here are some pictures from the last three months:

From Craftsbury:

Spring 2016 001 (1024x768) Spring 2016 003 (1024x768)

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Ski Tour Canada

It’s been a long season. I’ve begun the process of reviewing it and planning for the future, but it’s a bit overwhelming. I will do a separate post later this week to wrap up the Fantasy League.

I am currently in the Boston, Massachusetts area with the Mark Doughty family. Mark is the president of Thoughtforms Builders, my title sponsor. This week I will be joining the Boston area elite club, the Cambridge Sports Union, for training (on roller skis unfortunately), I will be visiting a couple local area schools with my teammate Jessie Diggins, I will be having dinners with different skiers and supporters and I will be hosting a big practice on Saturday morning with the local youth ski program, The Eastern Mass Bill Koch Ski Club. I’m excited to be back in the Boston area and to reconnect with this amazing ski community, one of the biggest and strongest in the country.

Next week are the final races of the season, the USSA SuperTour Finals and Distance National Championships in Craftsbury Common, Vermont. My energy is still very good, and I’m looking forward to more races, especially in a lower-key setting than the World Cup.

After the race season finishes I will have one short (as in a couple hour) opportunity to see my girlfriend Emilia. After making the decision to take the year off of competing in slopestyle skiing, Emilia is in the midst of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester. I’m planning to see her briefly in eastern Utah as she transitions from the canyon section to the river section. From Utah I will head to Vail, Colorado where I will have an operation to remove the hardware from my ankle. The recovery from the surgery should not be more than a couple of weeks. Lastly, on April 11th I will sit down with my two coaches, John Callahan from Aspen, Colorado and Zach Caldwell of Putney, Vermont and Caldwell Sport, to plan the next year.

In the planning process we will outline some big changes in the method I use to prepare for the season. I want to do things differently enough next year that I can expect different (hopefully better) results. We have been discussing ideas about what I can do to take more risks in my training with the hopes of bigger rewards. The method we have used for the last ten years has left me plateaued below the highest level.

Ski Tour Canada, which ended on Sunday, was a continuation of a season that was more consistent than I’ve ever had previously but which lacked any clear standout, confidence-inspiring performances. The schedule of the first five stages of the Tour was tough for me because it included three sprints and two distance races, one of which (stage 2) was seeded off the results from the first sprint and was not fair to the athletes that started in the back. (I was standing still in multiple places on the first lap of the narrow course, waiting for guys in front of me to move before I could start skiing.) My biggest disappointment of the Tour was stage 6, a 30 kilometer mass start skiathlon on hard trails in Canmore, Alberta. It was one of the races I’d been looking forward to all season, but I dropped off the large lead group on the third lap (of eight) and finished in a very disappointing 35th place. The final two races were better for me. I made it back into the World Cup points with a 23rd place finish in stage 7’s 15 kilometer skate race and skied to the 19th fastest time on the day in the final pursuit race.

Aside from my results, Ski Tour Canada was an amazing experience and incredible tour. Almost all of the top skiers in the world came to race and the organizers put together some really special venues in downtown Gatineau, overlooking the capital Ottawa, in downtown Montreal, winding through a hilly park, in downtown Quebec City, looping in front of the parliament building, and on the world class Olympic trails in Canmore. The atmosphere at the races was electric, and it felt to me and my teammates that at least half the crowds were American. Thank you to everyone who came to support us!

The highlight of Ski Tour Canada for Team USA was the continued consistency and truly world class skiing of Jessie Diggins. Jessie logged two podium results during the Tour (including her time on the final day, which counted for World Cup Points) and finished the Tour in 5th place. Jessie continues to prove that she belongs at the very top of the sport and will be a favorite to win more World Championship medals next year, Olympic medals the year after that, and crystal globes throughout her career. I’m excited for her and for what she is doing for U.S. skiing.

I want to thank so many people that came to Canada to support me. Mark, Pilar, Nathan and Anneka Doughty drove up to Montreal from Boston, Chris and Mary Osgood came to Quebec City from Putney, my parents came from their new home in Montrose, my sister came from Sun Valley, Greg, Toni and Lindsey Adams came from Park City and Luke Adams and his girlfriend Amanda Mercer made it from Walla Walla just in time for the last race, Hans Fischer hitched a ride up with the Adams from Jackson while Scott Lacy flew from Jackson with two of my best friends Laura Hatanaka and Barton Tofany, who both came from the front range of Colorado. I feel so incredibly lucky and honored that so many people made the trip. Thank you all!

I was sent a lot of pictures of me racing in Canada. Bernie Gardner, the head cross country skiing and running coach at the very successful Honeoye Falls-Lima High School outside of Rochester, New York drove all the way to Quebec to watch us and sent me these pictures:

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U.S. Ski Team Music Video 2016

Today we (the U.S. Nordic Ski Team) released our third music video. This one is focused on today’s start of Ski Tour Canada. I hope you enjoy it!

These videos are a LOT of work. This year, as in the past, the work was done by Jessie Diggins, who spearheaded the project, motivated all of us and choreographed the dance, and by Simi Hamilton, who collected all the footage and did the editing, a monumental task. We owe them both a huge thank you! The video has me fired up!

If you need more incentive to be a part of Team USA at Ski Tour Canada, read this piece I wrote for the National Nordic Foundation about the opportunity we have at these races.

More info about Ski Tour Canada is on the event website. Here’s the schedule:

  • Mar. 1st, 2016, 1:45 p.m. (EST), Gatineau, Quebec Freestyle Sprint
  • Mar. 2nd, 2016, 12:00 p.m./2:30 p.m. (EST), Montreal, Quebec 13/20km Classic Mass Start
  • Mar. 4th, 2016, 3:30 p.m. (EST), Quebec City, Quebec Freestyle Sprint
  • Mar. 5th, 2016, 3:00 p.m./4:00 p.m. (EST), Quebec City, Quebec 10/15km Freestyle Pursuit
  • Mar. 8th, 2016, 3:00 p.m. (EST), Canmore, Alberta Classic Sprint
  • Mar. 9th, 2016, 12:00 p.m./2:30 p.m. (EST), Canmore, Alberta 15/30km Skiathlon
  • Mar. 11th, 2016, 12:45 p.m./3:00 p.m. (EST), Canmore, Alberta 10/15km Freestyle Individual Start
  • Mar. 12th, 2016, 4:00 p.m./5:00 p.m. (EST), Canmore, Alberta 10/15km Classic Pursuit

And if you need a little more entertainment, here is the 2015 U.S. Ski Team Music Video:

And here’s the 2013 U.S. Ski Team Music Video:

Ski Tour Canada

The final World Cup event of the year, Ski Tour Canada, begins tomorrow! It is also the final fantasy event of the year. Don’t forget to select your Ski Tour Canada team for Noah Hoffman Fantasy Cross Country before today’s team selection deadline! Team selection will close tonight (Monday) at 8 p.m. EST. Ski Tour Canada is a standalone competition so the overall standings have no bearing on the competition. The winner of the Ski Tour Canada fantasy competition will receive a Suunto Ambit3 GPS Heart Rate Monitor (pictured below) and a National Nordic Foundation Buff.

Select your fantasy Ski Tour Canada team here.

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I wrote a piece for the National Nordic Foundation about the importance of the large size of Team USA at Ski Tour Canada. Check it out here. And come join our team by cheering us on at one of the races! I’ve copied the schedule at the end of this post and information about the tour is on the event website here.

I spent the last week in Putney, Vermont with my Ski and Snowboard Club Vail teammate Tad Elliott. There was not much snow to speak of.

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