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!

Update+ Altitude Training Tidd-Bits+ The Mental Side of Things

It’s been a while, and contrary to last time, lots has happened!!

Since the last blog, a lot has happened! I jumped on a plane at the beginning of October and came home to CO for a nice altitude training camp and of course to get some time at home. I was able to get a few more days of working with Tenderfoot Outfitters in, taking different horseback tours, go for my first 100, mile bike ride, and shoot my bow, just to name a few highlights. Then in the last few days of my stay I was lucky enough to be able to get out in the woods and do some elk hunting. I didn’t end up getting anything largely due to heavy snowfall greatly affecting ⅔ hunting days, but regardless, I was able to have the experience I wanted and unplug from normal everyday life and get back to some of my roots and do something non ski related that I really enjoy. Normally during this time, my team APU would go to Park City Utah for a two week altitude camp, but due to all things COVID, that wasn’t able to happen. Luckily for me, my home of Gunnison CO sits at 7,703ft and fits in perfectly as a substitute!

Those Tidd-Bits I Mentioned 😉

While here in CO I was able to get plenty of good training in, and also get a lot of various data points on how my body reacted to coming back up to altitude. For example… When you come to high elevations from sea level, there are a lot of things that happen to the body, but everything that happens, happens on a highly individual basis. When I got home, I was looking forward to tracking 3 things. How I would do with a 2 day race entry, how my blood oxidation would change from day to day, and how long it would take me to return to being highly efficient at high altitude.

Simply put, a “2 day entry” means racing the 2nd day of being at altitude. There are a few ways to try to optimize performance when going from low to high, but the 2 day entry is one I had not yet tried. The thinking behind the 2 day entry is that you race very soon after you arrive because your blood oxidation levels should theoretically remain at a high level from being at sea level, i.e. 98ish%. Needless to say it seemed to work just fine.

Most studies show that when going from low to high, your blood oxidation will decrease for 3 days before coming back up/ normalizing after that. For me, my blood oxidation was the lowest the first morning I was home, dipping to 91% from 98% the day before. (Which is a fairly normal level for me at altitude based on numbers gathered over the summer.) Then it came back up to 94-5% for about 5 days before stabilizing at around 92% for the rest of the trip. Needless to say, not what I was expecting based on what most studies show, which just goes to show how individual all of this is. Interestingly enough, based on feeling, I seemed to regain my high efficiency at altitude on day 16ish, which did not exactly correlate with my blood oxidation levels.

The Importance of Mental Balance

While being able to come home to get an altitude camp was fantastic, it made up a small portion of why I was very excited to get to CO. To be honest, I was counting down the days leading up to my departure. I was ready for a change of scenery, blue skies, warm sunshine and some good family time. Essentially, my soul was ready for a good recharge to get me through to Christmas. This brings me to my main point. Whether you are a professional athlete, work an office job, or are a busy retiree, it is very important to take some time to unplug mentally. Whether you do that by taking some days off or just do a different activity that you find joy in, you can reap enormous benefits. For me this took the form of getting to ride my bikes, ride my horses, spend time up in the mountains, spend time with family, eat some good ol’ home cooked food, etc. While yes, if I had to stay in Anchorage, I would’ve been completely fine, however, it would’ve likely taken a little more out of my mental bank than I would’ve liked. Now I can go back, recharged and revitalized and can continue to train day or night, rain or shine, (so in Anchorage, all dark and lots of precip:))without having a problem with motivation or anything else of the likes. As they say in all forms of sport… “Happy head, fast legs.”

Update + The Pros & Cons of Time Trials

Fall is here! But not for long…

Since the last update, just about the only thing that has changed is that I now have more classes on my plate than I did before. But, to be honest, not a whole lot of interesting things have happened. I’ve settled into a nice rhythm with training and school, oh and of course watching the Tour de France! With all that, I have managed to stay quite busy, which I can certainly be grateful for! We have had our fair share of lovely fall days here in AK, and the colors have been equally brilliant. The temperatures have certainly started to drop, and every once and a while you can see a light blanket of snow sprinkled on the peaks above Anchorage. As I mentioned in the last update, I had been dealing with a couple of injuries, but through perseverance and no doubt a bit of stubbornness, I can confidently say that both injuries have healed and I have been able to get back to a more normal training regime. Hopefully I can remain uninjured and healthy for the rest of the season, as is every athlete’s hope. As the season’s change, a slight shift in training is also occurring…

Time Trials.. The Pros and Cons

In all sports, there is periodization. No matter the definition, there is no arguing that sports in general all have their own respective phases. For many endurance athletes, it’s common to train more and more specifically as the season nears. As for us nordies, we are starting to get closer to the competition phase, so the focus generally narrows a bit. For me this translates to a slight decrease in overall training volume, and an increase in intensity. Without getting into the specifics too much, a good (or bad) way to do that is by implementing time trials into training…

PROS

Time trials can be a great addition to spice training up a bit! Until now, a lot of training time has been spent logging in distance hours and a large portion of Level 3 intervals(roughly 85ish% max), so it’s been a while since you really got to rev the engine. This is one reason why time trials can be highly effective. They remind the body what it’s like to go as hard as you can, to race, go absolutely full gas, open up the throttle, throw down the gauntlet, & lower the BOOM! You get the picture. Often without race like efforts before important races your body may feel sluggish and won’t be able to optimally perform because it’s not used to such intense efforts. Doing time trials in the Fall is also a great way to measure improvements from time trials done in the Spring, and they can certainly improve your high end efficiency (among other things). They also allow for opportunities to test things like pre race meals, warm-up routines, day before training, etc, so that when you get to the starting line you are dialed in and ready to go. Furthermore, adding time trials now can highlight areas of weaknesses where more time should be spent in training to make further improvements with the time left before the season opener.

CONS

While there are numerous advantages to implementing time trials into training, there are other things that you might want to take into consideration. One of the biggest things that can have a negative effect on a potentially golden opportunity, is having the wrong mindset. Personally I have been there. It’s easy to get distracted in comparing & analyzing variables such as rollerski speeds, weather conditions, training loads, one’s strengths and weaknesses, etc…I like to recognize such variables, but also keep it all in perspective and judge my performance accordingly. Off season TTs can play mind games, so it’s always best to look for areas for improvement and if applicable, appreciate gains made from previous tests. For most of us, there are 8+ weeks left before our first ski races, so regardless of any TT performance, there’s lots of time to continue improving!

Until next time! Keep training smart, and enjoy the warmer temps while they last!

Cheers,

Garrett