Monday, September 20, 2004 - Latest News
Haywood Report: A Break from the Monastery

By: Phil Widmer

Making the National Team is a dream come true. Along with my teammates, I work hard, I play hard and I rest hard. My life is now spent trying to balance the demands of training and preparing for race season with the demands of my body and my mind. Too much work or play and I risk getting sick. Too little training and I am afraid I won’t get the results I am looking for.

When I am training hard I compare my life to that of a monk. What? Yeah, like a monk, I am totally committed to achieving a single goal. Monks live in service to their sole focus. While I live to get faster. Everything that I do, whether I like it or not, is done to move me closer to my skiing goals. Eat the right food, rehydrate, stretch lots and sleep more. Well, maybe a monk is bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Team camps are great. We train and then we recover. We eat, drink and sleep. We goof off and try to unwind in between our sessions and keep reminding ourselves that the positive results of the racing season will result from the hard work done in camps or during difficult training periods. On camps there are usually midday activities to unwind, but nothing major. Maybe you are thinking, “Doesn’t this guy know he’s not in kindergarten any more?” Yes, I do know but more than ever, I know that I need my playtime. For the most part, I love the life-style. But I can only stay intensely focused for so long. At some point I crack and have to leave the routine to “recharge the battery”. Some of my teammates can go longer than me, but there comes a point for all of us.

The “cracking” point for me comes in a variety of ways. I can get dark circles under my eyes, my face gets pale, I am less patient, get grumpy with people and when it’s really bad, I can’t sleep very well. My body feels drained and I can’t focus properly during my workout. The goal is to take a break before I get sick. For me, complete recovery cannot take place, simply by ‘not training’ or ‘sitting around the house’.

I need “play time” comes in. Socializing with friends and family, playing with the dog, going fishing, hucking off of anything and everything, rock climbing, reading a good book are all ways to unwind. Even though skiing and training is something that I love to do, too much of a good thing can be monotonous. So doing other things and taking time to play, is part of my recovery plan.

Earlier this year I took a recovery week and headed down to Hood River, Oregon. I was driving my sister to a windsurfing camp, and decided that I would also try to pick up the sport. I can say right now that I haven’t felt like such a rookie in a while. The skills involved were all new to me. Although I was learning quickly I was hoping I wouldn’t see my teammate George Grey (who was down there too) sail past me, like the pro he is. I still felt like a huge gorbey by the time I left and I knew I still looked like a pale skier geek with no chance of attracting any surfer chicks. Still, the time to learn a new sport, playing in a new training environment had been a welcome change. The hot weather and new scenery made training in the hills and vineyards of Hood River, a real blast.

I came home with a renewed appreciation for my sport; my batteries recharged and ready to train hard again. But I am continually challenged to find ways to play that don’t involve too much risk, too much energy or cost too much money. For me, playing has to be active recovery for my whole body and mind. I always need to be careful that I don’t end up feeling drained and emptier, rather than refilled and as usual, the lessons learned away from “the sport”, also apply to it.

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Source: Cross Country Canada

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