Winter has arrived

Finally winter has arrived here in Idre Fjäll!

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Going back to Falun and jumping back on the rollerskis was torturous. Every year I have always looked forward to the last rollerski session and packing them away for the winter, however this time we had to bring them back out again. Icy roads caused this to be a little risky too! But as you can see, it’s beautiful here in Idre and the past few days have been absolute pearlers making training on all those cold rainy days worth it!

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This weekend is a freestyle sprint and a 10km freestyle. Tapering is still not really happening just yet as an increased training load should continue to help me build for better form later in the season. Regardless I am keen to see what sort of results I can produce!

Training with some of the DSA boys!

Training with some of the DSA boys!

Phil and I are living with two of the guys we have been training with in Falun, Adam Steen and Robin Norum. Both legends and good blokes! Check out their blogs at www.adamsteen.se and www.robinnorum.se

Bruksvallsloppet

The start to the race season has been a little different for me this year. Usually expectations are high, and its a very nervous period directly before the first race as you are eager to see what sort of gains you have made over the summer. This time around, my expectations were low. That’s one thing I have learnt about this injury, it’s better to give yourself time before you expect too much from your body.

The classic was not so successful, primarily due to insufficient grip. My body actually felt alright, but with slipping skis it made skiing powerfully and efficiently not very possible. A frustrating start no doubt, but that’s just racing.

Bruks

Despite my body feeling the fatigue from the day before, the 15km skate was a much more positive result. Finishing up in 63rd and just under 90 points means already I am close to where I was this time around last year! Considering the training never really tapered off for this race because I am still maintaining a higher load, I am very positive now about how my shape is coming together!

Now it is time to head to Idre for some more training and next weekend’s races. So our shoebox on wheels is all packed up, ready for another job it wish it didn’t have to be part of!

Back to Bruks!

Today 2 records were broken. Firstly Peugeot’s smallest 2 door hatch had its interior capacity exceeded by the largest margin. Another record was also set by the passenger sitting next to me for his remarkably talented ability to pull off this year’s Philthiest Mo!

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His looks alone would get us pulled over, luckily however there are no police in northern Sweden and we made it safely back up to Bruksvallarna. Huge thanks again to my lovely girlfriend Teresa for the use of the car!

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Tomorrow marks the start of the European Racing season for us here in Sweden. It all starts off with the opening FIS races here in Bruksvallarna which consists of a 10km classic tomorrow, 15km skate on Saturday and a classic sprint on Sunday.

All my goals and focuses for this weekend all revolve around achieving process goals. It’s not a good idea to place any high expectations at this point – that can come later! For now it’s just part of the re-building process! It’s been quite some time since my last proper race so it’s going to be exciting to pull that bib on again!

Death by Treadmill

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Yesterday was a session that had me scared for quite some time. ‘Death by Treadmill’ for me this week was a 5*6min interval set working in very high heart rates. Mattias is in his element here, he seems to love making you hurt and it becomes one of the aims in the session to show that your hard enough to handle it! But realistically it’s exactly what is needed particularly for me at this point in time. In his very own words ‘time to stop being a little bi*ch and make some GAINS!’

It may not seem that tough by looking at it, but right here I am about 7 beats per minute off my max heart rate. That’s the key, working close to your max but try and make it as smooth and efficient as possible. It’s quite an incentive to hold technique actually, as soon as you lose it, you go straight to the back of the treadmill! Falling off and hanging by the hoist is not something you want to do in front of the rest of the academy athletes using the indoor track and hall. Maybe shows why I haven’t quite skied as fast as I probably should have in the past!

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For the last two, Mattias turns it up even harder, particularly on the last one. By going to within a couple of beats of max, you can see it was just time to hang on – hence the expression on my face….

On Snow!

Training has continued at a good rate over the last week or so, however its becoming very obvious my body is playing a bit of catch up. The amount of times I have come back after sessions feeling completely spent, feeling as hungry as a barking dog is beyond countless. This ‘Fika’ buffet that we found sorted that issue one afternoon – lucky its only a once a week operation!

All you can eat...

All you can eat…

The test race I spoke of in my last post was an absolute disaster. A 15km classic rollerski time trial where I lacked any form of power almost entirely and completely lacked the ability to raise my heart. It was a real disappointment as the interval sessions leading into this session had been only getting better, but this was a real sinker! It’s just important for me to realise that it is unrealistic to expect my body to work the way I want it to every session with what it has been through, particularly with the current high load.

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For the last week we were on camp with Dala Sports Academy and our coach Mattias up in Bruksvallarna. Unfortunately as luck would have it, all the natural snow melted the day before we arrived however with this being the first time back on skis for me in quite some time it was a great to be back at it! It was nice to have our first bit of sun in quite some time on the third day we were there – even if it was short lived.

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With only a 4km tough race loop to work with, the longer session were quite tolling but despite a tough schedule my body seemed to react quite well this time. Only the second last day we did a 12km freestyle test race which to my surprise went a whole lot better than expected. With the heart rates all still being lower than they should be throughout, I could tell my system was still dealing with a lot of fatigue however I  managed to post the 4th fastest time in the group. There are still some definite improvements to come, many of which will hopefully be there just from tapering a little and feeling a little fresher. Now at least I know I am getting right back up to where I was before the accident and have the confidence that the starting the World Cup season in Lillehammer in 3weeks time is within reach.

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After a tough week, even the coaches are a little fried but here is Philpot taking some revenge on Mattias – time to make the coach hurt for a change!

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Unfortunately our little Opel has completely packed it in now. We were driving it to a friends garage where we would replace the water pump that had decided it wanted to change it’s ambitions in life to pump water onto the road instead of into the engine. Since we are some of the luckiest lads around, we got within 200m of the garage when the water pump completely broke of, taking the timing belt with it. This essentially turns the internals of the engine into mince meat – RIP Opel Astra 1.6! Despite your sheer ugliness you will be missed!

Sweden!

It has been a while since my last post, but hopefully now that I have found the rhythm of life in Sweden once again I can keep the updates more consistent! It’s been a little over 1.5 weeks that I have been back in Sweden now and thankfully everything has been relatively drama free!

One of the few Sunny days - SHORTS weather!!

One of the few Sunny days – SHORTS weather!!

Straight away I have noticed the difference in training. Since I have been given the all clear to max everything out once again, the training has shifted to try and develop the areas of training that I have lacked substantially for the last period – this being high end intensity. The hours are still relatively high but the amount and duration of intensity session has increased. Surprisingly I have found myself not so far off where I was in my best shape before I left here to go back for the Australian winter. Aerobically my system has recovered amazingly well, I am strong again on the tough hillbounding sessions and this eliminates any doubt of whether my lungs are holding me back at all. I’m still suffering more than I am wanting to but the power and speed on the rollerskis is also coming along with but session feeling better and better! This has all added up to leave my body feeling completely spent all the time! As I write this, I feel almost as tired as our little rusted out Opel Astra!

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Speaking of which, it has just about thrown in the towel on us! (hopefully I don’t suffer the same fate!!) Smoke, steam and a whole lot of rattling has increased ten fold in the past week and the diagnosis? A busted water pump… But realistically this isn’t surprising really. This little beast took us 6000km and not the easiest of 6000kms either. So for $250 each, I think its served us well. We will still have a go at fixing it, but the chances of successful resuscitation could be minimalistic!

Being back in Sweden has been really nice, and culturally you always notice just how different Australia is to anywhere else when you go abroad again. I’ve come to the conclusion that Swede’s must see us as completely strange in many ways. We will go training in shorts when the temperature is above 9degreesC, so long as its not raining heavily. Swedes on the other hand are very much season orientated. If it’s Autumn or close to winter, jackets and long tights are a MUST even if it is 14degrees outside! If it was summer and only 7 degrees however (which it often is here), its tanning season and a jacket and long tights would be seen as completely ludicrous! Rules and traditions are also followed as though there are enormous consequences, even if there are none! Brilliant creation like our Creme Freiche and Jam combos are absolutely mortifying for a Swede to even consider.

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Here’s another example; there is a street in town where only taxis and buses are suppose to drive, however because we are idiots we of course had no idea and drive down down there a few times a week! Yes, looking back it was strange that people crossing the road just didn’t seem to care if they were completely in your way and odd looks seemed to be increased compared to usual but not once have we been stopped or fined. Ask a Swede to drive down that same road though and it would be like asking them to rob a bank! This just outlines the genuine and trustworthy nature of Swedes though, so its not something to complain about.

Rain, cold and darkness is mostly what is to be found in this nation at this time of year. But if you know where to look, what else can be found are these amazing mushrooms. They sell for 170SEK (around $26) per Kilo! So this was a great day!

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Yes, talk has been pretty minimal on the topic of training, however I’ll be sure to give it all a bit more attention in the next post. Particularly after this weekend’s test race and the rest of this week’s intensity sessions. Despite the horrific fatigue and soreness from the increase in level of training, our time on the rollerskis has been made so much nicer in the last few days. We have both (Phil and I) had some horrible luck with rollerskis over the past year and between us gone through countless rollerski wheels, shafts and brackets. Phil has power and a bigger build to blame whereas for me its maybe just bad luck. But with all bad luck come good luck. Here are the new Marwe 620 XC’s that Håkan at Huselius Skidsport has generously given us to try and ensure the rest of our preparations for Falun 2015 World Champs are trouble free. Thanks so much Håkan!!

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