Update+ The Work, Life, Training Balance

Hello, hello! Hope everyone is doing well, and have enjoyed a glorious summer of doing whatever it is that gets you going! Since the last update, a lot has been going on, so I will give you the short of the long of it. Then we’ll delve into a topic that I think will be applicable for most people out there. Whether you’re trying to reach an elite level in sport, or just trying to stay healthy and squeeze in your favorite activities, these tips may help.

Late Summer – Update:

As you might know from the last article, I had a slight calf injury early in the summer, was trying to build back from that, and was working a lot on the back of a horse. While I wasn’t able to get my running legs completely back to where I would consider “normal,” I was able to return to some level of consistent running, which enabled me to do more baseline testing to check in on my fitness. The tests included a 3000m run on the track, and a running hillclimb. I set personal bests in both events, and given that my run specific legs were sub-par I was quite happy with that because it meant that the improvements were made largely from fitness gains alone and not an improvement in the efficiency of either event. This brought me to the end of July, and from then on I was really trying to savor the time I had left at home because it was running out quickly. I continued to work until the day I had to leave, and after a hectic day of travel, I made it safely back up to AK. The timing worked out well because I got back at the beginning of a recovery week, which meant I would recover better coming down to sea level, and also have more time for getting settled back into the swing of things. After a couple of days getting myself sorted, it felt like I had never left, as my friends Hunter, Chip, and I took off for a quick caribou hunt. In the end, Hunter and Chip both filled their tags within an hour of each other, and we were 3 happy hunters headed out with heavy packs and a lot of high quality protein to fill the freezer. I’m currently in a block of training which focuses on some higher intensity as we get closer to the competition season. It has been great to get back with the APU crew, as it is a blast to do speed or interval workouts with a fast group of guys!! Last week we floated the Kenai and I was able to fish for my first time in AK. What a day we had! I’ve never seen so many fish in such a short amount of time! With that said, I am really excited to keep the good times rollin with training, Alaskan adventures and school.

The Work, Life, Training Balance

This past summer has been the busiest summer I’ve ever had. Between working full time, and training at an elite level, I didn’t have time for much else. Personally, I wouldn’t have done it very differently, maybe a couple more days off of work to go do some other things, but in general I enjoy both my work and my training. I like staying busy, going from one thing to the next, and ending the day feeling like I’ve been productive and accomplished something. This is where the work – training balance comes into play. Having now been in AK for nearly 3 weeks, it has been crazy to see the difference between training while having a labor intensive job as compared to training, and not working. Here’s an example: This summer, I was training 25-29 hours a week while also working everyday. I’m not gonna lie, that was challenging at times. By the end of a 4 week training block I would be getting tired, but by staying diligent and on top of things like calorie intake, hydration, recovery, and getting adequate sleep, I was able to achieve my training goals. In contrast, my first few week’s of training in AK with the team, without work & with extra O2, I felt like I could’ve trained 30+ hours with no problem and still have plenty of energy left over to be able to go do other fun things. Essentially, if you’re working and training, just know that work will take something out of you, it’s normal. Adjustments will likely have to be made, however it will be very individual in accordance to your needs.

Now to address a slightly different balance…the training- life balance. I’ve always had the mindset of, “If I’m going to commit to doing something, I will do it to the very best of my ability. This means doing things to the umteenth degree so that when I come to whatever finish line I’m presented with in life, I can look back on my journey and say, yes, I did absolutely everything I could’ve done to give myself the best chance of success”. However, this can be a dangerous avenue to follow without balance. Now, I love to train/race and challenge myself, and can very easily get completely consumed by it all. Because I’m wired this way, I also really need to consciously make an effort to incorporate other passions and interests into my life. ie: Hunting, fishing, horses, shooting my bow, time shared with friends and family, etc. I find that when I incorporate a balance of focus and fun, I’m happier and therefore can take a healthier mindset into training as well. For enjoyment and longevity in any area of life, balance is key and I’m constantly learning and adjusting to get the most out of this journey called life.

On another note, I’m looking for a job to be able to do remotely in between training, and school, so if you know of any openings that might be fitting, please let me know!

Until next time,

Garrett Butts

Update+ Tips for Training at Altitude

Update

Happy Summer!! Here in CO, summer is in absolute full swing! Meaning, I am busy, busy, busy. While I’m at home in the summer I’m fortunate to work for my Dad’s outfitting business (Tenderfoot Outfitters) guiding horseback day rides, overnights, and fishing trips. I’ve been doing this since I was 4 (or so I’m told), and it is something that I really enjoy! Between work and training, it is just non stop. For me, a typical day might look something relatively close to this… 6am wake up, train 7-9, work 9:30-4, train 5-7, eat dinner, do some computer work, prep for the next day, and do it all over again! This last training block, which was my first full one back in CO, seemed to go quite well! I enjoyed getting back on my bikes, visiting a lot of my favorite stomping grounds, and enjoyed the luxuries of home like home cooked meals & having a Mom that’s a massage therapist. (Thanks Mom) During my easier week, I developed a little strain in my calf, something super minor, but if neglected could’ve turned into something much worse, so I stopped running for a number of days, did everything I could to aid in a rapid recovery, and now I’m building back the run. As for the near future, I’m looking forward to spending some more time in the backcountry, keeping the good times rolling with training, eating well, spending more time with friends and family, and of course watching Le Tour de France, and the Olympics!!!

Tips

Growing up in Gunnison, CO at 7,700 ft, I’ve spent plenty of time training at altitude. Over the past few seasons, I have been able to gain quite a bit of experience from coming from sea level to altitude, and vice versa, but there are a few key things to take into consideration when at altitude that I never really realized until I had more experience at sea level and also coming up to altitude from sea level. Here are some tips that you can use whether you’re a junior skier, a master skier, or just looking to make the most of your time at altitude.

1: When training at high altitude, it can be extremely advantageous to wear a heart rate monitor, especially for the first couple of weeks when you are coming up from sea level. When you’re at sea level, you get used to putting out a certain power for a given effort level, and when you come to altitude, it’s easy to just go out at that same power output thinking it will yield the same effort output. This however, is not the case, and is why wearing a heart rate monitor can be very important. Otherwise, you might find yourself going way too hard all the time and compromise the greater plan.

2: Stay Hydrated! Chances are, if you’re at altitude, you’re going to be in a dry, arid climate and every time you exhale you will be losing exponentially more water. Sweating at altitude can be deceiving because it evaporates so quickly, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t sweating, so keep the fluids coming.

3: Carbs! Put simply, when you’re living and training at altitude, your base metabolic rate is higher because your body is just having to work that much harder all the time to keep your body in homeostasis. This really just means higher caloric demands, and because protein and fat needs generally don’t change too much, that means the outlier is carbs, where you will likely get your needed extra calories.

Until next time,

Garrett Butts

May Update+ The Thing With Spring

The update:

And just like that, we’re already 4 weeks into the 2021-2022 season! After wrapping up a big on snow training block in Alaska, I went down to Texas for my sister’s graduation, a few relaxing days with the family on the coast, and for some heat adaptation training. 😉 It ended up being a great time with the family, with some good seafood, cheesecake and some much needed recovery after some hardy training. Now after 18 hours of driving, and plenty of naps later, I am back home in CO getting back into the full swing of things with both life in general, and with training. And in the spirit of training…

The thing:

Part one: For a lot of skiers around the globe, the new season starts on whichever week has May 1st in it. This season, that meant a start date of April 26th. If you were to ask most people how to go about Spring training, they would probably say… “Well, you race through the end of March/ beginning of April, and then you take some easy time to recover from the past season and get ready for the next season.” This is generally pretty sound advice because in most places, this is what the climate allows for. But what if you can keep skiing through the end of the season and into the start of the new season? I would say that if you are in a good place mentally and physically to take this route, continuing to ski as long as the conditions allow can help you take an extra step towards future goals. However, if you are fried physically and or mentally, then absolutely, take a break, reset, get to where you need to be to be hungry to tackle whatever the upcoming season has in store.

Part two: Whether you end up taking a break, or ski for as long as the conditions allow, Spring is also the time of year to start building back into various dry land specific modes, ie, roller skiing, biking, running, etc. The trick to this, is being very flexible with your training plan. The demands of most forms of dryland training are specific enough to themselves that they all take time to re-adapt to. You might have planned a roller ski on day 1 and 3 of the week, but on day 3 you might still be super sore after the first roll, and it might be advantageous to give it another day until you roll again. With that said it is also wise to start off on the lighter side of things. If a normal distance roller ski in the heart of Summer/ Fall might be 2 hours long, start off with a 60-90 minute roll to see how you feel, and build from there. This way you can avoid potential injury, and make the most of training on a day to day basis because you’re not blown out from doing too much too soon.

As for myself, this past week will be my first week back to dryland training after having extended on snow ski training for as long as possible, and I’ll continue to build back into full blown summer type training here over the next couple weeks. In the near future, I’m looking forward to getting back on the horse working for Tenderfoot Outfitters, catching up with friends and family in CO, and continuing to pursue my goals! I hope everyone is having a terrific Spring, and if you ever have any questions, or topics you would like me to address, feel free to contact me via email at ,garrettbutts3710@gmail.com! Got some cool stuff coming up so stay tuned.

Until next time,

Garrett Butts

May Update+ The Thing With Spring

The update:

And just like that, we’re already 4 weeks into the 2021-2022 season! After wrapping up a big on snow training block in Alaska, I went down to Texas for my sister’s graduation, a few relaxing days with the family on the coast, and for some heat adaptation training. 😉 It ended up being a great time with the family, with some good seafood, cheesecake and some much needed recovery after some hardy training. Now after 18 hours of driving, and plenty of naps later, I am back home in CO getting back into the full swing of things with both life in general, and with training. And in the spirit of training…

The thing:

Part one: For a lot of skiers around the globe, the new season starts on whichever week has May 1st in it. This season, that meant a start date of April 26th. If you were to ask most people how to go about Spring training, they would probably say… “Well, you race through the end of March/ beginning of April, and then you take some easy time to recover from the past season and get ready for the next season.” This is generally pretty sound advice because in most places, this is what the climate allows for. But what if you can keep skiing through the end of the season and into the start of the new season? I would say that if you are in a good place mentally and physically to take this route, continuing to ski as long as the conditions allow can help you take an extra step towards future goals. However, if you are fried physically and or mentally, then absolutely, take a break, reset, get to where you need to be to be hungry to tackle whatever the upcoming season has in store.

Part two: Whether you end up taking a break, or ski for as long as the conditions allow, Spring is also the time of year to start building back into various dry land specific modes, ie, roller skiing, biking, running, etc. The trick to this, is being very flexible with your training plan. The demands of most forms of dryland training are specific enough to themselves that they all take time to re-adapt to. You might have planned a roller ski on day 1 and 3 of the week, but on day 3 you might still be super sore after the first roll, and it might be advantageous to give it another day until you roll again. With that said it is also wise to start off on the lighter side of things. If a normal distance roller ski in the heart of Summer/ Fall might be 2 hours long, start off with a 60-90 minute roll to see how you feel, and build from there. This way you can avoid potential injury, and make the most of training on a day to day basis because you’re not blown out from doing too much too soon.

As for myself, this past week will be my first week back to dryland training after having extended on snow ski training for as long as possible, and I’ll continue to build back into full blown summer type training here over the next couple weeks. In the near future, I’m looking forward to getting back on the horse working for Tenderfoot Outfitters, catching up with friends and family in CO, and continuing to pursue my goals! I hope everyone is having a terrific Spring, and if you ever have any questions, or topics you would like me to address, feel free to contact me via email at ,garrettbutts3710@gmail.com! Got some cool stuff coming up so stay tuned.

Until next time,

Garrett Butts

That’s all she wrote!

Well folks, it’s nearly the end of the 2020-21 season! What a ride it was! This past weekend, I had my last races of the season, and despite the races taking place a little later than usual, the timing allowed for the Alaska based World Cup athletes to jump in with us, and yielded arguably the strongest field we have seen on US soil this season. This was an awesome opportunity for all of us who have had to stay put this winter in AK, as it gave us a real glimpse, and comparison of where we stack up against the nation’s finest. An opportunity that has eluded us for most of the season, since racing was kept at a regional level due to the virus. Saturday was a 10k classic individual start, and Sunday was a 15km skate individual start. On Saturday, I had a decent race, where the course and conditions revealed some things I need to work on. I was optimistic for Sunday’s race because I knew that it would play more to my strengths than Saturday’s race. I managed to pull out a good result, ending up 7th overall behind 4 athletes who were at World Champs, 1 who was 5th at NCAA’s earlier this season, and 1 who was an alternate for u23 World Champs this season. Needless to say, I learned a lot, scratched my last racing itch, and had fun doing it. Overall it was a successful weekend.

Season Conclusion + Some Takeaways.

I will try to keep this as concise as possible since I have previously written about many topics that I have learned about throughout the season, but here are some of the things I have been thinking about when reflecting on the 2020-21 season.

I have had many discussions with teammates regarding how to define whether or not your season was a success. Simply put, it is challenging to do when there aren’t any races that bring together a great variety of athletes from which you can make your assessments. In a normal year, we get to race a lot of different people, at many venues across the nation, whereas this year, we raced pretty much the same people at the same venues. Since all of our racing was kept to a regional level this season, this was much harder to do. The down side to this is that you never truly know how you stack up in the grand scheme of things. You might be the fastest in your little pond, but once you get to the ocean, it’s a whole other ball game. Luckily for me, in AK, there are many fast skiers to compete with. The regional restriction also didn’t bode well for furthering various abilities acquired from skiing at different venues. Fortunately, with all the skiing the Anchorage area has to offer, I was able to continually make progress throughout the winter months despite the given constraints.

I continue to learn that the foundation of success lies, not purely from the end result, but rather the progress one makes throughout the process. With that said, I am very excited about what the future has in store! For now, I intend on taking full advantage of the great skiing we still have in AK for as long as possible before heading back down to the lower 48 for my sister’s college graduation!

HUGE thanks to everyone for helping make the most of this season! Coaches, teammates, race volunteers and venues, family, friends, sponsors and supporters, one and all. I could not have done it without you!!

Until next time,

Garrett Butts

That’s all she wrote!

Well folks, it’s nearly the end of the 2020-21 season! What a ride it was! This past weekend, I had my last races of the season, and despite the races taking place a little later than usual, the timing allowed for the Alaska based World Cup athletes to jump in with us, and yielded arguably the strongest field we have seen on US soil this season. This was an awesome opportunity for all of us who have had to stay put this winter in AK, as it gave us a real glimpse, and comparison of where we stack up against the nation’s finest. An opportunity that has eluded us for most of the season, since racing was kept at a regional level due to the virus. Saturday was a 10k classic individual start, and Sunday was a 15km skate individual start. On Saturday, I had a decent race, where the course and conditions revealed some things I need to work on. I was optimistic for Sunday’s race because I knew that it would play more to my strengths than Saturday’s race. I managed to pull out a good result, ending up 7th overall behind 4 athletes who were at World Champs, 1 who was 5th at NCAA’s earlier this season, and 1 who was an alternate for u23 World Champs this season. Needless to say, I learned a lot, scratched my last racing itch, and had fun doing it. Overall it was a successful weekend.

Season Conclusion + Some Takeaways.

I will try to keep this as concise as possible since I have previously written about many topics that I have learned about throughout the season, but here are some of the things I have been thinking about when reflecting on the 2020-21 season.

I have had many discussions with teammates regarding how to define whether or not your season was a success. Simply put, it is challenging to do when there aren’t any races that bring together a great variety of athletes from which you can make your assessments. In a normal year, we get to race a lot of different people, at many venues across the nation, whereas this year, we raced pretty much the same people at the same venues. Since all of our racing was kept to a regional level this season, this was much harder to do. The down side to this is that you never truly know how you stack up in the grand scheme of things. You might be the fastest in your little pond, but once you get to the ocean, it’s a whole other ball game. Luckily for me, in AK, there are many fast skiers to compete with. The regional restriction also didn’t bode well for furthering various abilities acquired from skiing at different venues. Fortunately, with all the skiing the Anchorage area has to offer, I was able to continually make progress throughout the winter months despite the given constraints.

I continue to learn that the foundation of success lies, not purely from the end result, but rather the progress one makes throughout the process. With that said, I am very excited about what the future has in store! For now, I intend on taking full advantage of the great skiing we still have in AK for as long as possible before heading back down to the lower 48 for my sister’s college graduation!

HUGE thanks to everyone for helping make the most of this season! Coaches, teammates, race volunteers and venues, family, friends, sponsors and supporters, one and all. I could not have done it without you!!

Until next time,

Garrett Butts

Update+ Race Season 101

Hey there sports fans!! I know it’s been a minute since the blog has made its usual appearance, but no need to fret because it’s back! It seems like forever ago that I last updated you on all of the happenings, and needless to say, quite a lot has, in fact, happened. Since then, I returned to AK at the beginning of January after a great block of family time at home! Shortly after returning, I jumped right back into some races, which kicked off a 6 week “race block” where I raced (in one form or another) a total of 10 times. During all of this I started my spring semester of school, had a birthday, did my first 1 lap, 30km individual start race, and even went backcountry skiing again. Keeping you all up to date, in my last newsletter, I had told you about my recent experience with “fatigue,” and how it had disrupted a few of my races. My point then, was that you never know exactly how fatigue will creep up on you or what it will look like if it does so, as I learned in December. I felt “fine” in general, but my form had clearly dropped a couple notches from where it had been. When I got home for Christmas, I had some blood work done, and found out that I had low iron and low vitamin D. Both of which are essential nutrients for performing at your best. Originally, I swept this under the rug as “fatigue,” however the root cause of my off performances was something entirely different. This goes to show how important blood work can be. Had I not been tested, I would’ve never known the true causation for my sub-par performances. Conclusion? Get some blood work done. It can provide great insights on your body’s many mechanisms.

How to race well week after week after week…

When I was at home during my Christmas break, I had some nice down time followed by a nice block of training before returning to Alaska. After that little block of training, I wanted to commit to a true “race block” of racing week after week. Other than the obvious goal of racing fast, I wanted to apply what I’ve learned, and think will work best in order to perform well week after week. This season has been different because of COVID, for sure, and mainly in the sense that we haven’t had many “major” races or had to travel. However, we have had plenty of racing opportunities whether it be via time trials or smaller local race series. With that said, it has been a great opportunity to try things in a low risk, controlled environment. Here are some of the biggest things that I have learned, and can’t wait to apply next year in major competitions.

  1. Training takes a back seat…

When the race season rolls around, the majority of the fitness building training is complete, and the training that’s done during the race season is all about doing whatever it is you need to prepare for the next races. Personally, I love to train, and grind out those hours, so it took a cognitive shift to say, “ok I have done the training, now let’s use it and see what we can do.”

  1. Different kinds of easy.

For me, during the race season, non-race or interval days, my average day has a 90 minute ski in the morning and some core and a jog in the afternoon. During this time, the morning skis were consistently “easy distance.” Not just shuffling around, but not quite at the distance pace I train at during the summer. In my afternoon “jogs” I was experimenting with different paces/ effort levels to see what they yielded. What I found is that there are 3 levels of footspeed. A run, which is normal distance training speed which, for me, might be around 8min/mi. A jog which is around 9min/mi, and a shuffle which, for me, is 10+min/mi. During this race phase I did a lot of jogging and shuffling. I found that on most days a jog was adequate, but on days before hard efforts like races, a shuffle was superior. For example, one week we did a sprint TT on a Friday, and a 15k TT on Sunday. For the sprint, my legs felt awful, so on Saturday I wanted to take it really easy, and went for a “super shuffle” that afternoon (13min/mi) and on Sunday my legs came around nicely!

  1. The rhythm.

During the ski season when you race weekly, you fall into this rhythm which looks something like this… Race Sat/ Sun, recover Mon/ Tues, easy training or short interval session Wed, easy training Thur , Friday pre-race, then race again on the weekend. Simply put… race, recover, get the body feeling good again to race, & race again, etc… I think a common mistake is going too hard during mid-week intervals because you feel good after a couple easy days, then end up feeling flat in the race because you’ve already spent yourself on the intervals.

I am currently getting ready to start my next race block with the Tour of Anchorage, a well known 50k. Having thoroughly enjoyed the 30km I just did, I am looking forward to seeing what this distance is all about! After that, the plan is somewhat unclear, but will likely include lots of races/ TT’s to round out the ‘20-’21 race season.

Until next time,

Garrett Butts

Update+ Race Season 101

Hey there sports fans!! I know it’s been a minute since the blog has made its usual appearance, but no need to fret because it’s back! It seems like forever ago that I last updated you on all of the happenings, and needless to say, quite a lot has, in fact, happened. Since then, I returned to AK at the beginning of January after a great block of family time at home! Shortly after returning, I jumped right back into some races, which kicked off a 6 week “race block” where I raced (in one form or another) a total of 10 times. During all of this I started my spring semester of school, had a birthday, did my first 1 lap, 30km individual start race, and even went backcountry skiing again. Keeping you all up to date, in my last newsletter, I had told you about my recent experience with “fatigue,” and how it had disrupted a few of my races. My point then, was that you never know exactly how fatigue will creep up on you or what it will look like if it does so, as I learned in December. I felt “fine” in general, but my form had clearly dropped a couple notches from where it had been. When I got home for Christmas, I had some blood work done, and found out that I had low iron and low vitamin D. Both of which are essential nutrients for performing at your best. Originally, I swept this under the rug as “fatigue,” however the root cause of my off performances was something entirely different. This goes to show how important blood work can be. Had I not been tested, I would’ve never known the true causation for my sub-par performances. Conclusion? Get some blood work done. It can provide great insights on your body’s many mechanisms.

How to race well week after week after week…

When I was at home during my Christmas break, I had some nice down time followed by a nice block of training before returning to Alaska. After that little block of training, I wanted to commit to a true “race block” of racing week after week. Other than the obvious goal of racing fast, I wanted to apply what I’ve learned, and think will work best in order to perform well week after week. This season has been different because of COVID, for sure, and mainly in the sense that we haven’t had many “major” races or had to travel. However, we have had plenty of racing opportunities whether it be via time trials or smaller local race series. With that said, it has been a great opportunity to try things in a low risk, controlled environment. Here are some of the biggest things that I have learned, and can’t wait to apply next year in major competitions.

  1. Training takes a back seat…

When the race season rolls around, the majority of the fitness building training is complete, and the training that’s done during the race season is all about doing whatever it is you need to prepare for the next races. Personally, I love to train, and grind out those hours, so it took a cognitive shift to say, “ok I have done the training, now let’s use it and see what we can do.”

  1. Different kinds of easy.

For me, during the race season, non-race or interval days, my average day has a 90 minute ski in the morning and some core and a jog in the afternoon. During this time, the morning skis were consistently “easy distance.” Not just shuffling around, but not quite at the distance pace I train at during the summer. In my afternoon “jogs” I was experimenting with different paces/ effort levels to see what they yielded. What I found is that there are 3 levels of footspeed. A run, which is normal distance training speed which, for me, might be around 8min/mi. A jog which is around 9min/mi, and a shuffle which, for me, is 10+min/mi. During this race phase I did a lot of jogging and shuffling. I found that on most days a jog was adequate, but on days before hard efforts like races, a shuffle was superior. For example, one week we did a sprint TT on a Friday, and a 15k TT on Sunday. For the sprint, my legs felt awful, so on Saturday I wanted to take it really easy, and went for a “super shuffle” that afternoon (13min/mi) and on Sunday my legs came around nicely!

  1. The rhythm.

During the ski season when you race weekly, you fall into this rhythm which looks something like this… Race Sat/ Sun, recover Mon/ Tues, easy training or short interval session Wed, easy training Thur , Friday pre-race, then race again on the weekend. Simply put… race, recover, get the body feeling good again to race, & race again, etc… I think a common mistake is going too hard during mid-week intervals because you feel good after a couple easy days, then end up feeling flat in the race because you’ve already spent yourself on the intervals.

I am currently getting ready to start my next race block with the Tour of Anchorage, a well known 50k. Having thoroughly enjoyed the 30km I just did, I am looking forward to seeing what this distance is all about! After that, the plan is somewhat unclear, but will likely include lots of races/ TT’s to round out the ‘20-’21 race season.

Until next time,

Garrett Butts

Update + Dealing with Fatigue

Season’s greetings! Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Writing this, I’m sitting on our porch in shorts and a t-shirt at 17 degrees, soaking up all the sunshine and vitamin D I can! Over the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of different things going on for sure. Since the first official races of the season were cancelled, I was able to put some more time into my training, and get in some good time trials with my team. After numerous weekends with time trials or races, I am pretty happy with how things are looking at this point in the season, knowing that there is only room to improve. I also finished up the fall semester of my second year of college at APU and managed to maintain straight A’s! After the semester ended, I had a week in AK, and the day before I left to come back to CO for Christmas, I went on my first backcountry skiing trip! Then, following a long travel day home, and catching up on sleep in my own bed, it was already Christmas. It’s been a treat to be home and enjoy some nice, warm sunshine, blue skies, and good times with the family, and our new puppy- Zeke. As for training, I’ve used this first week at home to recover from a pretty heavy block of training in AK. For the rest of my stay, I’ll be taking a break from the super high end of the intensity spectrum, and take this opportunity to add some easy volume, and L3 training to keep base fitness as high as possible for later in the season.

Fatigue and all it’s sneakiness.

As I have previously mentioned, our first races of the season got cancelled, so, we shifted the focus from those races, back to training, which meant incorporating both higher volume and higher intensity. For the first 4 weeks of this, things were ticking right along. I was able to keep a good mix of high volume, and high intensity through time trials and intervals while still feeling strong throughout. But nothing lasts forever… The 2 weeks following this highly productive block, I was hoping to really kick things into high gear. As I came to find out, that high gear had unfortunately been stunted. The interesting thing was that at no point did I feel tired or overcooked, nor did any metric reveal any signs of fatigue. It was only in the last couple of race’s that it revealed itself. My point in all of this is that you can’t always pinpoint this crazy phenomenon called fatigue. No matter how perfectly you may have things planned out, or what your watch might say, or not say, sometimes it may still sneak up on you. In my case, there seemed to be a delayed onset of this fatigue, and it’s this that most people don’t think to look for. Whether it be with rest or training, there is generally a delay until the outcome is realized. For me this would’ve meant taking an easy week, the third week of that 4 week block, in anticipation of that rest coming into play for these last races. This is one of many reasons why keeping a training log can be so beneficial, so that you can look back to see correlations between training and it’s results. Although a couple of my early season races may have been compromised because of this additional load, I am confident that it will pay dividends later in the season and am looking forward to what the rest of the season has in store!!

I know for a lot of people, 2020 has been a rough year, but personally, I can’t believe it’s already coming to an end. Wishing everyone a healthy and Happy New Year!

Until next time,

Garrett Butts

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I can’t believe it’s already the end of November which means…Thanksgiving!! And then less than a month until Christmas, and a little more than a month until 2021! Crazy right?! In other news, I was able to time my return to Alaska perfectly! I missed the worst of the shoulder season, and was able to come back to some decent skiing right away! For the past number of years, Thanksgiving has usually marked the first time in the season for me to get on snow, which is why this was such a treat! Being able to ski on snow since the end of October has meant that I’ve been able to jumpstart the actual ski season. I’ve been able to log many miles in anticipation for the upcoming race season. Besides skiing a lot, I’ve been busy with my academic schedule, which is soon coming to semester’s end. Only 3 weeks left!!

This past weekend was supposed to have been the official kick off for the 2020-21 season with official FIS races up in Fairbanks, however, they were cancelled along with races on Dec. 4-5th. Luckily we’ve been able to make some plans that seem like they’re here to stay, which include racing the first 3 weekends in December. Directly after the last races, I plan on heading back home to CO for Christmas for a couple weeks. From there, I’m not sure what to expect, as the COVID dilemma keeps us guessing. Uncertainty seems to be the theme of this past year. Expect the unexpected!

Tips and Tricks for Thanksgiving Training Success

As I said before, Thanksgiving usually marks the first time of the year to train on snow, and this is true for most other Americans as well. Given the fact that it’s the first time in over 6 months that you’re able to truly glide on a ski, ambitions are high, and the overall excitement level is through the roof. At least that’s how it’s been for me. With that said, it can be really easy to do too much during that first phase of on-snow training. Whether you end up logging entirely too many hours for your respective level, or go too hard all the time, or a combination of the two, you can end up digging yourself a major hole. I can personally attest to doing just that. While yes we do spend the entire year getting ready to ski on snow via various forms of ski imitation, there is nothing quite like the real thing, meaning, an additional stress for your body. For a lot of people, “Thanksgiving Camp” means traveling to places like West Yellowstone, or Silver Star, both of which are at altitude which adds other aspects to take into consideration especially if you’re coming from lower elevations. In my experience, it’s better to take things a bit easier than you think to let the body adapt to the new stimulus. The whole point of getting in lots of skiing is to start building ski specific efficiency so that you’re ready to rock when the race season kicks off, not to bury yourself before you even get the chance to toe the start line. Another very important variable to take into consideration is your skis. A lot of times athletes will get a fresh new pair or two during the late fall/ early winter, and all of this early season skiing is a perfect time to get to know your skis. (If the conditions allow, that is.) Test them versus your old skis, test out kick zones, and in general take advantage of the varied conditions that you will likely be skiing in so that you really know how your skis run.

BIG THANK YOU!

As it is now Thanksgiving, it seems only fitting to take this opportunity to thank friends, family, sponsors, one and all, for your generous support! There may be uncertainty surrounding this race season, but if one thing is for certain…COVID can’t cancel a dream!

Happy Thanksgiving!