Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - Perspective
Phil's XC Journal #4

- By: Phil Villeneuve

Hi Everyone,

I'm racing today and I can't wait! The 2nd annual Canmore Challenge x-c running race (on the ski trails of the Canmore Nordic Centre) is the focus of my attention on this awesome August morning. I've got 2.5 hours left until the start and I thought I'd go through some of my pre-race rituals. This isn't really what I had in mind in terms of a 'regular' journal entry but I know that there are a lot of you out there that aren't familiar with the preparations involved in racing. I thought you might want to know what goes on inside this melon of mine on and around race day. As for those of you that have raced before...well, a healthy refresher course never hurt anyone! So here it goes.

1. Anybody who wants to do well at an event, whatever it may be, needs to understand that it doesn't all happen the morning of. Proper nutrition is one of the most important keys to performing well. Although I follow a fairly precise meal plan, I make sure to eat foods that my body is familiar with the days leading up to a race (and no that isn't Kraft Dinner and pop). Unless the race is longer than an hour I won't really change the amount of carbohydrate to protein to fat ratio. This 12km course should take me approximately 45-50min to complete so no changes are needed.

2. Stretching is also a big part of my daily ritual. I usually stretch after every workout for about 20-30min. If I train twice a day or had a workout that really strained my muscles, I'll spend over 1 hour a day stretching my brains out. Leading up to a race, I like my body to be as limber as possible. It's easy to get an injury, especially in a x-c running race, where roots, rocks or steep downhills can jump out at you and pull you down. Yesterday, after taking a hot/cold shower, I spent extra attention to making sure I stretched every muscle in my body. Afterwards, I felt like a big soggy noodle and flopped on the couch to watch the men's marathon at the World Athletic Championship in Edmonton, AB. Did you catch the part where the leader had to make an emergency pit stop at the can? I bet you he didn't eat his standard supper the night before and his body just couldn't take it anymore. He later dropped out of the event.

3. This morning I got up at 6:30 and after doing a Rusko test (see the website for more info), I leaped out of bed (yeah right!) and went out for a 10-15 min run. I ate a big breakfast made up of familiar foods and stretched some more just to make sure everything was still feeling good.

4. I had a couple hours to spare until the start of the race and thought: "Maybe this should be the next journal entry". I started typing away.

5. Last night before going to bed I reviewed the course (that I rode on my mountain bike yesterday afternoon) and made up a plan of what to do this morning and thought of my goals for the race. Everything from what time to get up to what to eat for breakfast to what I was going to wear (hey, I never said I was what you would call a Ćnormal' person). Since I don't really know the Ćwho's who' of running, it's hard to say how I will do. My main goal for the race is to get in a hard workout that will tell me how my shape is and what I need to improve.

6. Time to go register... I'm back. It's nice to live 3 minutes away from the Nordic Centre!

7. Drink, drink, drink! The more the better I figure. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to get rid of it all before the race. Time for another bathroom break!

8. I'm starting to get a wee bit nervous now. Being nervous isn't a bad thing unless you end up spending too much time and energy worrying about the outcome of the race. An old coach of mine used to always tell me: "No use worrying about what you can't control"! These are words everyone should live by and not only us Ćathletes'.

Well, this is it. Not much left to do but to go out there and giv'er. I won't go through the warm-up routine because it's usually different for everyone anyway. If you don't know what works best for you, try something different every race until you find something that does. That's what training races are for, practicing for the Ćbig show' down the road. The key is to be on the start line warm, confident, relaxed and ready to go!

I'll let you know how the race went in the next entry (If you just can't wait, you can check for results or the Canmore Leader if you live in the area).

That's it for today.

(Phil Villeneuve was a member of the Canadian National Ski Team for two years and has been a part of the training centre system in Canada since it's beginning. He now lives in Canmore where he continues to pursue his Olympic dreams.)

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