Sorry for the long delay in updating. I do plan to get on a regular routine of posting a photo blog once or twice a week, but I’ve enjoyed the break from posting over the last month. Also, both of my cameras (one of which is not actually mine) have been in the shop getting repaired. The repair shop called me last week to tell me that one of them was ready to go. I went and picked it up, brought it home, turned it on and it was not fixed. The lense got stuck in the out position and the screen displayed nothing but black or static, the same problems that were happening before I took it to the shop. So, I brought it back down to Salt Lake to see if they could repair it with a second chance. Consequently, I still don’t have a camera and there aren’t any pictures in this post. My apologies.
This is going to be far from a comprehensive post. It would not be possible for me to write about everything that has happened over the last month and a half, so I’m just going to pick a couple of the highlights.
I bought a new car to replace the Prius that died in March. I bought a 2004 Subaru Legacy Outback from a college student at the University of Utah. It’s got 175,000 miles on it. I paid $3000 for the car and put $1800 into it. It’s the first car I’ve ever owned and I’m proud of it. I owe a huge thank you to my parents for providing me a car up to this point in my life. I went through the process of registering and insuring my car, all of which was new to me.
On May 1st I moved into a new apartment with my girlfriend Emilia Wint. We are very happy with the place. The location, right by the base of Park City Mountain Resort, a two minute walk from City Park, a five minute bike ride from Main St., and a ten minute bike ride from the Center of Excellence (COE), is perfect. The place is spacious and nice. After living with the Adams in Park City for the last six years, It’s a change for me to be paying rent. The Adams allowed me to chase my dreams by being so generous with their home for so long. I can never repay them nor thank them enough.
My training over the last month has gone in a new direction. Last fall my classic skiing completely fell apart. Although it seemed to happen quickly, in retrospect and after reviewing lots of video footage of my skiing, my technique and body position had slowly degraded over the last four years. I had developed an alarming curve in my lumbar spine. The forward pelvic tilt in my hips, which is common amongst cross country skiers, had become extreme. I had major asymmetries in my glute strength. When I skied I was rotating at and torquing on my low back. I struggled to engage my lats and bring my shoulders down and back, especially on the left side. My external rotation in my shoulders, dating back at least to my first shoulder surgery in 2011, was very limited, and my hamstrings and hip flexors were extremely tight.
In early May my technique coach Zach Caldwell came out to Park City. We recruited the help of both the strength and conditioning staff and the physical therapy staff at the COE. We did a full evaluation of my body alignment, strengths and weaknesses and range of motion. We prioritized the biggest problems and made a game plan to address them.
For the last five weeks I have done strength work in the COE five days a week. I was supervised by at least one, and often two or three staff members during each of these sessions. The exercises were specifically designed to address my weaknesses, and I had to do them all with correct body position. The staff was constantly making minor changes to my posture. In addition to the strength work, physical therapist Drew Tigges worked with me daily to address range of motion limitations. We did manual work, stretching, foam rolling and some weighted exercises in the physical therapy room. Outside of the COE I have been doing two sets per day (three sets per day for the first three weeks) of a specific and ever evolving home exercise program that addresses the same weaknesses that I’m working on in the gym. I’m doing a 15 minute YouTube yoga routine every morning and a stretching series as a cool down from all aerobic training.
As part of this project, the staff at the COE has limited me to an hour a day of aerobic activity, both so that I have more energy to focus on the posture project and so that I’m not reinforcing bad habits and tightening my muscles with repetitive motion for several hours per day.
At the end of May all of my teammates came to town for our first training camp of the year. Because I was so limited in my training and spending so much time in the gym, I didn’t get to fully participate in the camp, though I did an hour’s worth of the primary session with my teammates on most days.
Throughout the last five weeks the COE staff has seen significant and quantifiable gains in my body position, range of motion and strength. I can now find a proper symmetrical flat back with a level pelvis and low shoulder position, and I can hold that good position as it’s challenged through a range of exercises.
On Wednesday I flew from Park City to Putney, Vermont to check in with Zach, show him the changes that I’ve made and make a plan going forward. It’s been a challenging three days because although Zach likes the position I can achieve in the gym, my position while I’m skiing is still not conducive to producing efficient skiing. Namely, I still have a large lumbar curve, pronounced forward pelvic tilt and very asymmetrical shoulders when I’m skiing. The cues that I use in the gym to bring myself into a good body position have proven to be ineffective and even counterproductive in my skiing. They do a great job of stabilizing my pelvis, but they stabilize it in the wrong position.
Although Thursday was very discouraging as we first took a look at my skiing technique and tried to transfer my body position work onto roller skis, yesterday brought a little more optimism and today a little more still. Although my core positioning is still not in line, I am stronger in the core and able to stay much more connected in my skiing, especially classic striding (which is my benchmark technique), as I drive my elbows forward. I am also using my core strength much more effectively in double pole. As I double pole I’m producing better continuous power and keeping a higher work rate.
This morning we did the double time trial on the road in front of Zach’s house that we’ve done several times before. In the first effort I’m allowed to use any classic technique. For the second effort I’m only allowed to double pole. Here’s how my times compared to years past:
|Date||Classic Time||Double Pole Time||Notes|
This whole project has been frustrating and challenging. As you would expect, I don’t feel fit and I don’t feel confident. I’m trying to trust the people I’m working with and remember that it’s only June and that I’ve got plenty of time. I need to focus on my process goals, my session by session goals of good body position and good posture and my daily goals of completing all of my training and body positioning exercises with high quality.
This afternoon and tomorrow Zach and I will be reviewing where I’m at and making a plan for the next month. We’re going to bring the training load back up but hopefully continue to make gains in my posture and solidify the gains I’ve already made.
In addition to this posture project I have been collecting 24-hour a day heart rate variability data for the last month. So far we haven’t done anything with this data, but we’re going to analyse it with a software called Firstbeat. You can read more about Firstbeat and heart rate variability here. We’re hoping to use this data to help me see what activities outside of training allow me to recover and which activities add significant stress. This project is part of my goal to be more of a 24 hour athlete.
Tomorrow afternoon I head back to Park City. On Wednesday Emilia and I head up to Driggs, Idaho because next weekend my sister and her fiancé Nick Blatz are getting married.
Here’s a picture of me with my team during the camp in May: