Thursday, December 27, 2001 - Perspective
Staying Sharp At Christmas

- By: Shane Stevens


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So far this year, on the North American racing scene, the big news is that there hasn't been much real racing. With all the cancellations of the Eastern Continental Cups, we've been forced to organize our own time trials and look for regional races around Canmore and Calgary. Most skiers here have managed to get in a fair number of race starts, and I think most are finally starting to find their racing legs. Most of the guys on the team have just finished doing five straight days of intensity (which has come to be known as "The Five Days of Fury" around here). We started with the two races on the weekend, and then followed that with three days of intervals. The purpose of this was to find that little bit of snap that some might have been missing, as well as to encourage some positive physiological changes (increased blood volume, increased testosterone levels, etc.) which should help us out when we hit the US Nationals in a couple of weeks.

Now almost everyone has gone home for the Holidays, and its time for a little bit of rest and recovery before we start up the heavy racing again. With important qualifying races coming up soon after the holidays, it's important to get rested up; however, it's also important not to get that flat and lethargic feeling that often comes with a bit of a layoff. Now that we're starting to get some snap back and feeling like we actually remember how to race again, we don't want to lose it by spending a week on the couch and eating too much turkey and stuffing.

We'll be doing six days of very easy training, but then we get right back at it with 5 X 2 minute intervals on Boxing Day. We will follow this up with some short sprints in the following days, and then we will do a regional race on the weekend in order to have at least one race before we start the big ones again.

The break in racing can also be a good opportunity to get some base training in. There aren't a lot of chances during the race season to put in long easy skis, so this is a good time to keep up our base and ensure that we'll race strongly right through until the end of the year. Although we should do core strength throughout the whole year, there also aren't many good opportunities during the winter to get in strength workouts. The break can give us a good chance to do some light strength training to maintain some power and make sure that we don't lose too much over the winter.

As long as we're smart about it, we can use the Christmas break to come out in the next races feeling better than ever, and leave all those guys who are at home stuffing their faces with Christmas baking in our dust. Train hard and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 (Shane Stevens got a relatively late start in cross-country skiing, but his sport rich background helped him to quickly improve. He is now one of Canada's top male skiers. Several years ago Shane made the move from Manitoba to Canmore, where he trains with the National Senior Development Team.)

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