Welcome home to Craftsbury

I realized that I’ve been posting basically non-stop, and none of it has been about skiing. I hope nobody’s disappointed. To me, training for skiing is what I do every day, and it’s often not exciting. I always feel like I would be boring people if I talked about training all the time: it’s so repetitive, and the things that make one session distinct from the next are often small. I only want to blog about skiing when something exciting or notable happens. So I have found other things to blog about.

But it is, after all, skiing which brought me back to Craftsbury after my “vacation” in Nova Scotia and Maine. And I am happy that it did.

I am just finishing my first week back in town (or, “town”), and for the first time I remember what it feels like to be tired – the kind of tired where you want to sit on the couch all afternoon, and the kind of tired where doing any meaningful work is like an uphill battle. I have trained approximately 10 hours in the last week, so I shouldn’t be exhausted – it just goes to show that even if your workouts are going well, getting back into things can be tougher than you think after you’ve taken a break.

When I think of spring training, I think of playtime, basically. I think of running on the trails, road biking for hours, basically doing whatever sounds like fun that day. Since my return, training has not been like that. I was welcomed back on Wednesday morning to some 90% max intervals on the SkiErg (double-pole machine). Saturday, step test on the SkiErg. Sunday, 5k test on the SkiErg. Today, 1k test on the SkiErg.

On a few of the days it was raining (or snowing) out so being inside didn’t seem so bad, but a few of these days were sunny andbeautiful and I stared longingly out the windows as I was warming up. Due to the early, warm spring, things are already incredibly green in the Northeast Kingdom. Wildflowers are blooming – strawberry, violet, some kind of marsh marigold. Ferns are unfurling. You can see the bright new needles on the conifers next to the older, darker growth. (Less excitingly, the blackflies are out.)

Despite all of that, the tests didn’t go so badly. I have lost very little of my aerobic fitness over the last month – although regular readers might remember that my last few months of the ski season were horrendous, so it’s questionable whether that presents any sort of meaningful baseline. I set a personal best in the 1k test, beating my time from last season. I wasn’t far off in the 5k, either, and mainly missed it because I went too easy in the beginning. 5k is a long time to be on a SkiErg, and I was afraid, so early in the spring, of starting too hard and then suffering through many minutes of bonking. In addition I recorded my highest heart rate on the SkiErg ever, and I think my highest lactate at the end of a test as well.

I don’t want this to sound too much like bragging. As Pepa told me several times last year, I am “good athlete, but not good skier.” I still need to raise my VO2Max considerably. And we had our first rollerski of the season yesterday. My technique is miles ahead of where it was when I started rollerskiing last year, but I am still very inefficient and need to work on my power application – fitness and strength doesn’t matter if you can’t apply it to skiing. My SkiErg test results show that I’ve come a long way towards being a skier, but the rollerski part of things is still problematic. I have my work cut out for me this summer. It’s not going to be easy, but its work I’m ready to do.

We seem to be done with the tests for a bit, so I will get a few more opportunities to run on the trails, bike on the roads, and row on the lake. Spring is one of my favorite seasons (I think I say that about every season!) and I am eager to get out and enjoy it. I’m happy to be back in Craftsbury and embarking on the ski adventure once again – even if sometimes it makes me turn into a couch potato in the afternoons!

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