Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sweet Intensity

For about the last three months, I've been more or less just coasting along in terms of structured training. Zero structured intervals. Cross season is my off season.  In the past, I never had completely cut interval training out of my weekly cycle. I'm not following any kind of plan that says "take three months off from intervals." Can't say I was burned out on intensity. I seem to be burn-out proof in that department. No, I think it was more of just kicking back and enjoying the best fitness of my life for a few months. Did lots of mountain biking. It's not like I completely backed off either. I've done many 3-5hrs rides in the last few months that left me quite depleted.

Enter ski season. I've been training on rollerskis for over a couple months now. At first, it was only an hour a week, then a couple hours per week, rarely with much intensity. Now the snow is here. I have some ski racing goals this winter. "Just coasting along" ain't going to meet my goals. Time to bring some structured intensity back into the training regimen.

Since there is negligible local night skiing right now, I took this morning off to hit Waterville Valley. Of course, I had to do this after the temperature dropped more than 30 degrees from the day before. It was 10F with 30mph winds. Typically, sub-zero windchills really aren't an issue cross country skiing. You generate so much excess heat that risk of frost bite or even discomfort are minimal. What I don't like about skiing in frigid temps is that the snow often has the glide qualities of beech sand.  I pulled into the north end lot just as the Piston Bully finished up the northern half of the north end. Perfect. I finished kitting up and went right for Tripoli Rd. I was the only skier out at the time.

I immediately noticed that glide was not bad at all. In fact, at the bottom, it was quite fast. It appeared the snow dump on Sunday finished with a bit of sleet, and this churned in with snow makes a sugary granular surface that is wonderful to skate ski on. Near the summit of Tripoli Rd at Thornton Gap, the snow was much slower. Apparently the higher elevations didn't get the sleet finish. But it was still good. I hit the 800ft climb aggressively, but not too hard. I wanted to do several repeats.

The descent happens so fast, you really don't have a chance to get cold. Before you know it, you are putting out like 400W for another 20+ minute interval. I repeated this craziness four times. 23-24 minutes from very bottom to summit going up, almost exactly 10 minutes coming back down each time. This scored me over 90 minutes of solid threshold-plus intensity work. I thought about doing a fifth climb, but my fourth one took just a tad longer than my third, so I pulled the plug rather than risk needing an extra recovery day. Instead, I did a couple cool down laps around Moose Run. I finished with 41.4km, 3700ft of climbing, in 2.7hrs on the Garmin. Definitely one of my better workouts this year, on or off the bike. Nothing like a good endorphin buzz in the morning.

Tripoli 4x. For some reason, the GPS track data is missing
for third climb, yet all the lap data is in the lap file. Downward
trend in profile indicates rising barometric pressure.

Workouts like these on snow over the next few months are the basis of road race wins in the spring and hillclimb PR's later in the summer. It's a completely different modality from the bike. Skiing is novel each December when I get back on snow. It's like you can forget about the bike for a while, completely let go even, knowing that your fitness on the bike come spring will be better than if you tried to stay on the bike all winter. And a trainer? F- that. I can't think of anything that would crush my motivation more quickly.

Looking forward to heading back up on Saturday with a posse. Sunday is looking good for a trail ride, possibly Trail of Tears on the Cape.

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