Start of the Training Year

My coach Zach Caldwell of Caldwell Sport just finished up a trip out here to Park City, Utah where he met with me and my other coach John Callahan to review last season and plan for next year. Zach also stayed to drill me on technique for three extra days. Yesterday was the final day of this technique block. All of my roller ski sessions were on the 10 foot wide roller ski treadmill at the U.S. Ski Team’s Center of Excellence. Working on the treadmill gives us two advantages over working outdoors. First, it allows me to watch live video of myself skiing from two different angels. Second, it allows us to work at a constant speed and grade, change up the tempo and technique to see how it affects my Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and my heart rate.

Yesterday we simplified the technique work down to very manageable goals for the two and a half weeks between now and Bend. I am feeling much better about things than I was after Monday’s sessions. We often try to simplify and wrap things up at the end of each of these blocks, so I leave without feeling overwhelmed.

If you’re interested in the details of the technique work we did, I’ve included the notes that Zach wrote up for the U.S. Ski Team coaches at the bottom of this blog.

After a very focused day (which is surprisingly tiring), I had a little fun last night playing the card game Up and Down the River. I lost. Greg Adams is two for two this week.

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Today was my first scheduled training day of the year. I started it off bright and early (before 5 a.m.) to take Zach to the airport.

Super Early Morning in Park City

It was just getting light as I was leaving the airport.

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I started my two hour double pole outdoor roller ski session (Double poling is the only outdoor roller skiing I’m allowed to do right now.) before 7 a.m.

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It turned into a gorgeous day.

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The mountains are gorgeous from the fresh snow over the weekend.

Mountains with Fresh Snow in Park City, Utah

There were some interesting events in Park City today. I saw this bad accident driving back up from the airport this morning. It created some bad traffic.

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I also saw a ton of cops around Jeremy Ranch related to this incident.

After my ski this morning I stopped in at Park City Bread and Bagel in Pinebrook. My sandwich came with a tiny chocolate muffin.

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This afternoon I had my first strength session in several months. Strength is one of the major revamped parts of my training plan for the summer. I’ll be posting more about it in the coming weeks. This afternoon’s session was over two hours. I’m going to be sore tomorrow!

If today is representative, it’s going to be a really challenging training year.

If you’re interested, here are Zach’s notes from this latest technique block:

We just wrapped up a couple of good days here. We’ve got some simple objectives that I think will help things a bunch, and that are well supported by Tschana’s strength plan. She’s been great for going over all the technical goals, watching some treadmill skiing, and incorporating our ideas and concerns into the strength plan.

 

Between now and Bend camp Noah will be using roller skis for double-poling outdoors, but all striding and skating will be indoors on the treadmill with video feedback, and a simple set of objectives.

 

For classic we’re focused on reclaiming the rolling and relaxed stride that he really had dialed a couple of years ago. This means more remedial drills and simple striding work. On the treadmill he’ll be putting in quite a few hours (around 15 before bend camp) doing no-pole kick double, and one-pole kick double-pole. Work load is moderate to easy with most of the challenge coming from speed, not incline –  we’re using 8mph and 3% to start out. The objective is to open things up and roll along easily – get tension out of the lower back, and use really forward-based motions.

 

For the poling part of classic we’ve worked on putting Noah into a more powerful starting arm position. He’s got some single-arm pull-downs as part of his strength routine, and he’s hitting those as part of his classic session warm-up as well. On those pull-downs it’s really impossible for him to set-up in a bad position. So this is a good patterning drill. And on the treadmill the arm swing is really good without poles – the arms are naturally going to a good starting position. The tendency with two poles is to go for the zombie arms. But with one pole he’s using really good and clean motions. He can also put some power thought the pole, and it unloads the low back as well. Oh, yeah. No straps on the poles. They screw up his arm recovery because he’s got this tricky little move to try to gather the pole back to his hand. Easy solution – don’t let go of the thing. I’m thinking for Bend it might be good to try to find some biathlon straps.

 

For skating we’re really working on hip stability and mobility. Noah has a tendency to cock his hip on the push-off, and put himself into a bit of a contorted and unstable position. So we’re working on leveling things out there, and putting some lateral “slide” into the hip motions. In the strength session Tschana has built-on some good elasticity and stability work, and we’re using the slideboard, where Noah naturally extends the push with a good, neutral hip position. On the treadmill we’re focused on easy terrain – 2% grade and 8mph. At those settings the lowest HR technique for Noah is basically a coaches skate. We’re working on having him use V2-alternate timing, and again using one pole. He’s got some specific targets to limit stride count (pole plants per minute) AND reduce HRs. This will mean making the motions smooth, building better balance and stability on one ski, and just slowing things down a bit so it’s not so violent.

 

Double-pole will be an outdoor focused deal. Obviously Noah has a lot of work to do there, and we’re focused on it in a few different ways. First, he’ll be doing a lot more specific double-pole roller ski work – about equal with his lower-body load. Tschana’s strength plan is mostly targeting upper-body work with respect to strength gains, so we’re looking for some long-term general strength gains there as well. Noah will also return to his beloved roller board. Technique focus on the double-pole is on good starting position (hands closer to the body, as established in the gym), a lower and more relaxed tempo, and fast hands to build and maintain pace.

 

We’ll see how things go and will certainly expect to touch base before Bend. But I anticipate that Noah will be working on basic economy goals out there. That means greater focus on flat terrain in skating, with an emphasis on smooth power application, and some nice level hip action and mobility. I don’t anticipate him moving far beyond those goals before Bend. In classic we’re looking for open striding (good, relaxed extension). We’ve set him up so that the direction of his motions is in-line with the trajectory of the terrain – trying to prevent him from getting his head down and starting to try to ski straight down into an uphill. With the kick DP work on the treadmill we should see smooth and impulsive forward drive in both arms and legs, a good relaxed stance on the gliding ski, and easy impulse in the kicking leg, without any emphasis on kicking power. For double-pole we’re looking for good set-up arm position, relaxed tempo, and whipping motions with fast hands as the speed comes up.

5 thoughts on “Start of the Training Year

  1. The Hips!
    That is so tough for me. I’m gonna try the slide drills on my hard wood floors. Keep up the training insights. It’s fantastic. I’m greatfulyour desire transparency. You are supporting all us recreational skiers to improve. Thanks! You’ll make a great coach one day.

  2. Noah,
    you are certainly the one XC pro that discloses the most of his training details. This blog with Zach’s instructions and the one before with the pics of you roller skiing on treadmill are quite interesting. Improving your strength and your technique, especially for skating, should give you a big push forward.
    Andy

  3. Great blog! Thanks so much for sharing this one!

    Some very helpful information from Zach to all of us. I’ve purchased some of Zach’s technique stuff in the past and have been successfully changing up a number of things in my own skiing (at my level of course). It is interesting to read about the focus on economy, as that has been the #1 thing that has made me “faster” without having to work any harder. I need to work on it SO much more, but time only allows so much in my case. It must be an even more interesting process for someone who can work on it full time.

    I recognize the slide board thing, and also got one for myself. I did exactly the same progression with it and was able to translate the motion from that to my skiing on snow — although again, at a much steeper time and effort curve with my schedule. It was painfully awkward at first, but in time, it started to come around. This reaffirms my efforts toward efficiency and economy, rather than fitness and strength, etc. It is hard not to think you’re getting out of shape by breaking down all of your technique and working to build it back slowly. So interesting…

  4. It’s a good thing you weren’t tied up in the truck/tanker oil-spill wreck on westbound I-80. Nor the concomitant police chase of guys pulling a smash-and-grab from the Walmart parking lot. Never a dull moment in our little hamlet.

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