Over here on the World Cup most teams have just finished up a pre Worlds training camp. With a weekend off from World Cup racing a pre Worlds training camp provides an opportunity to fine tune fitness, refine some technique changes, and sharpen up before the big events.
For the US team we decided to spend the last 10 days in Davos Switzerland for our training camp making sure to take advantage of the perfect skiing conditions and high altitude to prepare for the championships in Falun. Even with just two weeks off from racing is a great chance to re-build with some easy distance skiing, which can actually provide a big boost in fitness and the kind of break the body needs after months of racing. This is something that almost all top level skiers do leading up to big events, trying to come up with the best combination of training and rest and hoping to find that magical feeling known as ‘peaking’.
Knowing what to do in order to have the best possible peak is really individual for the athlete. For me I have spent the last two weeks in Davos practicing some easy distance training but with a bigger focus on intensity and speed. During my 10 day block I was able to fit in 3 separate interval sessions with some L4 and also got to jump into a sprint time trial with the Swiss and Russian skiers providing a great opportunity to do some hammering. Since my main focus for World Championships will be on the Sprint I thought this was the best combination for success.
For both sprinters and distance skiers we all basically stick to the same simple formula of stress and recover, or for all the physiology geeks out there super-compensation. A skier can’t really have a true peak without super-compensation followed by the most fun of all Taper Time!
Sounds a lot like an MC Hammer song but at the same time it’s a very important part of the magical peaking formula. Usually anywhere from 10-14 days before our first event at World Championships we will start to taper. A standard taper consists of dropping the total hours of training at least 40% , which for an elite athlete can feel like a lot and the difference between a 15 hour week and a 7 hour week is designed to make you feel rested and snappy.
The trick to a good taper is dropping the volume without decreasing the number of workouts or the number of intensity sessions per week. So if I’m used to doing 8 sessions, two strengths, and 2 sets of intervals each week I continue on that program but cut the total duration of those workouts way down so they have a much lighter impact on the body. It makes for a lot of short fun workouts.
The US team and I just arrived in Sweden yesterday and as we prepare for this weeks World Cups and the start of the big championships next week it will be a serious taper time for everyone. For our first workout since arriving in Sweden most of the team went out for a quick 1-hour ski this morning with some speeds. Leading up to the races this weekend and into Falun we will mostly work on fast L4 or all out intervals to adjust to the sea level speed and get the body adjusted to moving fast.
Taper Time is a pretty exciting time for an athlete not just because we get to train less but mostly because of the way it makes you feel. A lot of the time you feel better and better each day and are even energized by your workouts. When you combine that with the excitement of World Championship racing right around the corner we all get a sense of being strong, fit, and untouchable. Isn’t that right MC… ‘can’t touch this!’