Looking to the Olympic Year, with Big Changes

Last summer I trained a whole lot. In hindsight, it’s clear that I stopped absorbing training around the time of the New Zealand camp in early September and never got back on top of my energy. The race season was a disappointment almost from start to finish. I believe that my numerous illnesses were a symptom of my over-training.

This spring I took a big step away from the sport. I adventured with friends on the Colorado Plateau, climbing, mountain biking, running and canyoneering. I slept on the ground almost every night for a month straight. It was the perfect opportunity to disconnect and reset.

During my break, I decided that I am not done cross country skiing. I still believe in myself. I believe that I am one of the fittest athletes in the world and that I can execute good races that represent my fitness. In 2013-14 I was one of the best skiers in the world. I had the fastest time in two different World Cup tour stages. I don’t believe that those results were flukes. They were simply solid representative efforts of my fitness. I am sure that I can produce races like that (and better) again.

After my disappointing season, I was not renamed to the U.S. Ski Team. However, I was offered World Cup Period 1 start rights with the opportunity for more if I prove that I belong on the World Cup. Honestly, this is a perfect situation for me. It means that I am not obligated to attend U.S. Ski Team camps or to be involved in the politics of the U.S. Ski Team, but I still have the opportunity to show up on the World Cup ready to ski as well as anyone in the world. I have complete control of my preparation.

The training that I did last year, though too much to produce good results last winter, doesn’t just go away. With better management and a more balanced load, I believe that I can reap the benefits of all that work. The themes this year will be “a balanced program” and “everything in moderation”. I want to bring all the work that I’ve done over the last three years together. I want to train a lot, but not an extreme amount. I want to train alone, but not always. I want to be coached, but not every session. I want to work on my mobility and posture, but not for every non-training moment. I want to incorporate core and upper body strength work, but not excessively. Lastly, I want to prioritize my happiness. This is the year to bring everything together.

I am going to live and train out of Hanover, New Hampshire this summer and fall. This is a big change for me, as I have never lived outside the mountain west. I decided to base in the east so that I can have more consistent contact with my coach Zach Caldwell. I will be checking in with Zach weekly to do technique work, to practice executing good races and so that he can keep an eye on my energy levels. Living in the east also offers more access to world-class training partners. Lastly, this will be the first  time that I have based at sea level. Zach has been pushing for me to make this change for years. It will help me recover better and absorb the training. I chose Hanover in particular because it is centrally located, it has great roads and trails to train on and it has a social scene.

On Friday I’m moving into my new home, a room that I’m renting from a Dartmouth postdoc in a duplex just south of downtown. I am very excited to ramp-up my training, explore a completely new area and meet new people in town.