In March of 2014, I was skiing with a small group of friends on the Banadad Trail from near Gunflint Lake to Bearskin Lodge. It was a spectacular 40km day on a mostly flat trail with a skied in track. With about eight km remaining, we merged onto a trail with beautiful, hard, machine-set tracks. Tim, Lyndon, and Phil started striding out and picking up the pace, like horses returning to the barn. I stayed with the group, but I was starting to breathe hard and my arms were tiring. The last few km were tough, the group was pulling away. I dug down to catch back up. “Why don’t they need a break?” I wondered “Maybe they’ll stop to look at a map. Horses never look at maps.” We glided into the lodge with me a few meters behind. If offered, I would have accepted help removing my skis. That night it was someone else’s turn for dinner. I lay (in a coma) on the couch listening to these same skiers re-hash the day. And comment on my condition.
This should have been a wake-up call. If it was, I didn’t heed it. The winter of 2015 went about the same as 2014. For some reason, my alarm rang in June – it finally occurred to me by training smart now, I won’t have to struggle next winter. I will simply be able to enjoy skiing. That is the true impetus for the Wave One Project.
Roller skiing + setting some baselines
Over the last couple weeks I’ve gotten back into roller skiing – it’s been over ten years since I’d last been on a pair. I didn’t think I needed to train on roller skis. I felt canoeing, biking, rowing, and hiking would get me ready for snow. I thought, “Why waste the summer doing ski imitation when summer sports are so much fun?”. The more I listened to skiers talk about summer training, however, the more convinced I became that roller skiing was a critical component of a well-rounded training plan. On roller skis an athlete can have effective ski specific, weight-bearing, strength and cardio workouts. At the same time, they can receive important technique benefits. Whether or not to roller ski this summer is no longer a question. I have no choice --my hands are tied.
This time around – better gear.
This summer I’ve already been roller skiing a half dozen times. The skis I’m using are much more stable and roll straighter than the ones I used years ago. After a few outings using classic boots I switched to some old skate boots. The ankle support from skate boots combined with these stable, straight rolling skis has given me a much safer, more predictable experience. With this combination, I can easily pick up my skis and step around corners or do a modified snowplow to check my speed on sketchy down-hills.
Getting the feel
Someone once said it takes five hours to get comfortable on roller skis. I first tested my gear on the flat Cedar Lake Trail near my house and the Heartland Trail up by the cabin. Speedy (at Gear West) invited me out to ski the trail around Baker Park. We met (along with Speedy’s eight-year-old son, Daniel, who was, unfairly, on skate roller skis. I was apprehensive about skiing the Baker 10km loop. I had never been on it and I imagined some terrifying hills. Speedy and Daniel cruised down the hills ahead of me while I practiced keeping light and agile on my skis. By the time we finished the loop, I was feeling much more stable.
Setting a Baseline
A few days later Speedy and I met at Baker again. We skied back to the traditional starting point of the Ringer Roll roller ski race. Speedy started his watch and said, “Let’s go”. We skied medium-hard (at least for me) one lap. 42 minutes 45 seconds. The down hills were manageable, but I didn’t feel like double poling down them. When I finished I was tired but not exhausted. With a bit more practice, I will be able to push myself even harder. My baseline is 42:45. I plan on testing myself against this baseline once a month or so.
The organic creation of a training plan
I am adding elements, to my Wave One Project as, they are recommended by skiers around me. Adding strength was a no-brainer, roller skiing was a skill that, undoubtedly, had to be learned. Next to be added to the plan will be Intensity.
My evolving training plan
1. Getting comfortable with my weight program – 3x/wk – 3hrs
2. Now I’ve added roller skiing – Speedy prescribed 2x/wk – 2-3hrs
3. Continue rowing, canoeing, swimming, biking – several times / wk.
4. Adding Intensity
Bold are the new elements to my workout – roller skiing and weights.
6/26 60mn row – 90mn canoe
6/27 60mn row
6/28 60mn row – 90mn canoe – roller ski 30mn Heartland Trail
6/30 roller ski 45mn – Baker Park
7/2 roller ski 60mn – Baker Park
7/3 60mn row – 120mn canoe
7/4 60mn row – 90mn canoe – 15mn swim
7/5 60mn row with 5 minute fast (experimenting with rowing at high speed. Exhausted in five minutes – dove in the lake after.)
-Posted by Tony Mommsen on Jul 6th 2015