Sunday, March 20, 2005 - Perspective Update: Fall training hints if you happen to be 'Married with Children'

- By: Werner Schwar

Hello everyone.† Welcome to October.† That month I have always found the hardest.† The daylight hours get shorter everyday, and you wait with anticipation for that first snow.† At least for those of us in the east who do not have access to the mountains.

When I was a serious athlete October was hard for the volume and intensity of training,† not uncommon to train 3 or more hours a day, almost everyday.† When I look back those days were easy compared to life now for the crusty old guy.† This is a tale for those of you with a real job (as everyone always said I should get when I was an athlete), a family, and the desire to still train and ski race, all with only 24 hours in one day.

Yes, the great balancing act that becomes more difficult with increased darkness before the snow comes and the lights come on with night skiing.† The best advice and the hardest thing I have had to learn is relax and donít worry about it.† If you miss a day or days of training it just doesnít matter by the time you get to my age.† The guilt of not spending enough time with oneís spouse or children just is not worth it in the end.

So what is one to do??† My solution has been to incorporate some of my job into my training.† Yes, you still have to do ski specific training such as hillwork intensity, but that is only a few times a week.† As a result when I do real ski training it is usually shorter and faster working at higher intensities.† I have had to give up those long slow distance workouts, but honestly those are not going to make the crusty old guy any faster at this stage of life.

This fall I have been fortunate enough to receive many diverse work projects, some desk design work and some construction work.† They have taken up a lot of my time, and taken me away from home, but help to feed the family.† The two projects I would like to share with you illustrate how a warped mind can make training out of anything.

The first project was to create a seatwall out of 2-3 tonne boulders into the side of a slope.† It was at a park where people frequently roller ski by, teasing me to join in.† I had a machine to help me dig and place the rock, but it was delayed getting to the job site.† So instead of waiting around leaning on my shovel and waiting,† I dug furiously turning it into a game.† How fast could I load each wheelbarrow, how many shovels could I get in each one, and how fast could I get the wheelbarrow up the bit of hill to the stockpile?† It was a strength and endurance workout all in one and best of all I was getting paid for it!!!!† By the time the machine came I was almost done the digging.† Sure everyone thought I was nuts, but who cares, I snuck in an unsuspected training session.

The second project was to construct a hiking trail about 3 km long with about half a kilometer up the steep side of a Thunder Bay mountain.† Swinging a brush saw for 12 hours a day for 3 days in a row provided excellent long slow distance workouts.† Using a grub hoe for 10 hours straight in cold October rain cutting a footpath out of the side of the mountain in the shale provided an excellent strength workout.† Carrying 6 x 6 beams a half a kilometer into the bush in rubber boots and mud makes excellent endurance strength training.† I only had to get up at 5 a.m. a couple of times to run intervals in the dark to get my intensity in for the week (old habits die hard).

The moral of this story for everyone in my boat of married with children: be creative with your training.† It doesnít always have to be a structured session.† Even household chores can be manipulated to give training effect if you look at them from the twisted mind of a ski racer like the crusty old guy.

Until the snow flies, all the best.


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