The DU Nordic Team fall dry-land preparation period ended last Monday with a time-trial up Deer Creek Canyon, climbing up the narrow winding canyon from outside Littleton west toward Conifer. It also marked the end of the final ‘intensity block’ of the fall, with tough interval sessions on seven of the previous 10 days.
With Fall Quarter exams ending Nov. 20, the team traveled up to Winter Park for the first on-snow camp of the year. In addition to getting on snow, this camp marks a shifting of gears for the team as the focus changes from shorter, high-intensity sessions to long slow distance base training. With the collegiate racing still over a month away, the team will take the next several weeks to build the aerobic base to last through the season, and work to make the technical improvements that will make them faster and more efficient in races this winter.
This will be achieved through 2-4 hours/day of easy skiing at a ‘talking pace’ (i.e. easy enough to hold a conversation and be sure not to accumulate any lactic acid), and a lot of technique work (video analysis, drills, no-pole skiing). Keeping the intensity low is especially important given the high altitude of Winter Park (close to 9000 feet). Skiing and living at altitude places additional demands on the body which, when combined with hours of training, can lead to overtraining. In spite of the excitement of getting on snow and the urge to push the pace, all training must be at a controlled pace to be most effective.
All in all, it has been an outstanding fall of training for the team. As a coach, I could not ask for a more dedicated group. Every member of the team has put in a great deal of hard work both in practice and in the classroom. If their efforts this fall are any indication of future success, it should be a great winter.