It all comes down to this again

31 Oct

This year I’m in better shape than at the same time last year. Have to figure out some way to maintain that through the remaining stretch of short days and gruesome weather before snow arrives. Yesterday’s improvised solution in the face of pouring rain was to rollerski in a parking garage with conveniently good asphalt. After that I went for a run in the cold, dark and wet on my neighborhood lighted ski trail.

Today the weather played Jekyll and Hyde and was positively lovely. So I rollerskied outdoors again. Unfortunately my legs felt tired. I guess the fear of losing fitness can perversely lead to over-training.

At this point last year I had skied almost every weekend in October on snow in Sjusjøen. This year the little snow that fell there last week has, according to the webcam, all melted.

My conditioning program last October was rather bulimic, with 40-50km of skiing on snow during one trip every weekend and much smaller amounts of training the rest of the week. This year I’ve been covering a lot more distance while rollerskiing. Even though getting an early jump on the ski season had huge benefits in terms of conditioning, I think that all the faking it on wheels I’ve been doing will be helpful too.

By this time last year my muscles were compact and toned. My motto then was “be the reindeer”. This year I’m toned too, but with a lot more muscle bulk. In fact I look a lot like I did at the end of last season when I had given up classic style skiing for skating to prepare for the Skarverennet race. Stands to figure since I skate rollerski exclusively. Not sure what animal I should try to be now. If I didn’t dislike dogs, I’d say a pitbull-greyhound mix.

A few more thoughts gleaned from the ski press:

  • I read somewhere some well-known skier saying that you should occasionally switch and use fast-rolling wheels when rollerskiing. My experience has really confirmed this. It feels so good just to glide free and easy like a pelican skimming the water while you go over the asphalt. If nothing else it’s good for your mood because on slow wheels you sometimes start feeling like you’re wading through mud.
  • Speaking of fast wheels, here’s a really detailed article (in French) about the work that goes into designing and making wheels at the Roll’X company.
  • Here’s an article (in Norwegian) about the Rodney Dangerfield of ski techniques, “v0” or “paddling”. Paddling is used on steep hills and really looks like rowing a boat as you reach out with one pole and pull yourself over the snow. However the article’s interviewee, Petter Eliassen, makes the point that the the technique is as much about pushing with both legs as it is about pulling with the arms. The article goes on to claim that Eliassen may be the “paddler” Norway’s ski team has been missing the last few years. My experience is that Norwegians have an aversion to the technique on aesthetic grounds. The image of Bjørndalen going up the steepest hills in the Skarverennet race in “v2” / dobbeldans style has burnt itself into the collective Norwegian ski imagination. Dobbeldans is certainly a much prettier technique than lowly paddling, but pretty isn’t necessarily the most effective. Petter Eliassen concludes that when going up a steep hill what you need are “mostly will and fuck-it-all-ery” / “Mest vilje og faenskap”.
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