Monday, October 18, 2010

Great Fall testing! Now off to Ontario!

This past week was my Fall, pre-season testing week. Having missed the testing in June due to illness, I have been eagerly awaiting this past week for a very long time. I did four tests over the course of three days late last week: a body comp. test, VO2 max test, double pole test, and a sprint prologue test.

Last Thursday I made the trip into Calgary to TCR Labs where I had my body comp. test and then the VO2 max test. Having dropped almost 10 lbs since last year at this time, I was very curious to see what my body comp. would be, and it turns out that I lost a few pounds in muscle, and am now down to 4.4% body fat from last year's 5.6%. I'm pretty happy with these numbers and the decrease in weight was evident in my VO2 max test which followed this one. The VO2 max test is to see how efficient the body is at using the oxygen that you inhale during exercise. So to do this, I wore this interesting piece of headware that made me breath through a tube, which measured the amount of oxygen that I was inhaling and exhaling, and had my nose plugged so that I could only breath through my mouth. I then got on a treadmill and ran at a 1% grade at speeds that increased every 2 minutes until I reached my threshold (basically until I started breathing very heavy and was getting tired). Then the speed was decreased by 1 mph and I started into the climbing phase of the test. This is the last part of the test where you run for as long as you possibly can while the incline increases by 3% every minute.

This was an amazing test for me, as it showed that I have improved my VO2 max over last year's 66.5 ml/kg/min to this year's 70 ml/kg/min. The test also showed that my heartrates are considerably lower this year than last year when moving at the same speed, which is a good sign that my training is paying off. And finally, the test showed me that I am stronger mentally than I thought I was, and I can take more pain than I thought I could, which is possibly the most beneficial knowledge that I got from the whole test.

Two days later, I completed the double pole test here in Canmore. Having been just on the verge of getting sick when I this test in June, I was definitely expecting to beat that time, and my goal was to set a new PB (which I set last year at just over 5 minutes). I ended up setting a new PB pretty handily at a time of 4:49, so I was very pleased about that. That afternoon was my last test, the sprint prologue test (skate rollerskiing). Having never done this test before, I didn't really know what to expect, and came out with a time of 3:33. Being my first time doing this test, I didn't really learn anything about my fitness level, but it was still a good hard effort.

I am now enjoying some much needed days off to recover from this past training block and prepare for the next one, which I have been told is going to be a very hard one. And I am very happy to say that today, Oct. 18th, was my first on snow ski of the year up at the Nordic Centre where they have a very nice, 1km-ish loop open.

Tomorrow morning I will be getting on a plane bright and early in Calgary and heading first to Guelph to spend some time with Jacquelyn and a few other friends who are going to school there. Then on Friday night I'll be heading back to Penetang for a 5 day visit with my friends and family. Can't wait!!

That's all for now, cheers!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Time for an Update: Ski Season is Approaching!

Now that I actually think about it, this last month has been both very long, but at the same time feels like it just flew by. The first few weeks of September were fairly uneventful for me, with the exception of the very unfortunate six days from the 8th - 14th when I was sick. While normally I would be very upset about looking back and seeing that I missed a week of training, as soon as I came back after my cold I felt more fit and stronger than I ever have before. So to me, it meant that I just needed some time to reboot the body and ever since then I have been feeling great!

About two weeks ago I finally got to meet one of my new sponsors in person, Jamie Coatsworth. We had a great breakfast and chat up at the Summit Cafe here in Canmore, and then myself and the rest of "Team Coatsworth" (Jamie sponsors a good chunk of the Canadian National Ski Team, and we are referred to as "his team"), threw him a surprise birthday dinner at Ticino's Restaurant in Banff. It was a great evening of amazing food and great company, and we even had some team shirts made up for all of us :). It was great to finally meet Jamie face to face, and what he does for myself and fellow sponsorees is truly incredible. Thanks for everything Jamie!

While on the topic of sponsors, I would like to thank McLaren's Canada, as well as my Aunt Gail and Uncle Stew, for coming on board and providing me with some of the financial support that I need to train and compete at this level.

My next training adventure came last Monday when the Academy and I traveled to Jasper AB for a 3 day training camp. Being my first time ever in Jasper, I had a great time on this camp (though we didn't really have much time to explore the town). It consisted of some trail running and A LOT of rollerskiing. Over the course of those three days I rollerskied a grand total of about 170km, all of which was great training!

We came back to Canmore on Wednesday night and spent the next couple days doing our normal training, and then it was off to Calgary yesterday for the annual Calgary Roadrunner's River Park Classic running race. The weather this year turned out to be a perfect 22 degrees C and a cloudless sky (compared to last year's O degree temperatures and snow). And while the higher water level in the river crossing slowed most of us down, I managed to finish 6th overall, improving on my 7th place from last year, so I was fairly happy with my race.

I am now enjoying a very nice day off to recover and prepare for my next week of training. Tomorrow morning I will be joining the other Junior and U23 athletes of my team for a 1 night trip to Lake Louise for a very mini training camp. From there we will arrive back in Canmore Tuesday night and finish off this week's training, before starting our Fall testing week on the 11th. I am looking forward to getting to test my limits and seeing how I compare to myself last year at this time.

That's all for now!