Thursday, September 6, 2001 - Perspective
Phil's XC Journal #7

- By: Phil Villeneuve

Hi Everyone,

Wow, it's already September! Time flies when the training is going well. The end of the Labor Day long weekend sounds off that big'ol buzzer that tells all the kids to go back to school and the tourists to head back home so that Canmore can get back its quiet streets after another busy summer. I saw a funny bumper sticker the other day that summed up how I feel sometimes. It said: "If they call it tourist season, why can't we shoot them!" I realize that tourism is a big part of the town's economy but the hordes of visitors that cruise our streets can on occasion get a little frustrating. I guess this weekend was a little busier than usual because of the Canmore Highland Games (which was a blast by the way), and the fact that all the hiking/biking trails in the area are closed due to the extreme fire hazard. Going to town for a simple errand was nothing short of an epic adventure. The one advantage I have is my motorcycle! I can weave in and out of traffic and park pretty much anywhere. However, even a bike has its limits. There is nothing I can do if a stream of 20 to 30 pedestrians decide to cross the intersection one by one or if I'm stuck behind a caravan of campers that crawl across town at 30km/hr slowing down every 5 seconds at imaginary speed bumps to get their bearings straight. Now that the weekend is over, the town is quiet again, the roads are clear of RV's and cross country skiers can once again rule the roads on our rollerskis!

September is one my favorite months of training because it means that the temperature starts to drop ever so slightly everyday, making the mornings crisp and perfect for training. There's no better feeling (other than being on snow), than to head out on your rollerskis, your breath trailing behind you, as you speed along the pavement thinking of the races that are just around the corner. With all the time I've spent on my rollerskis, you would expect me to be sick of it, but I actually really like to glide along on them. Winning races is the ultimate prize but getting there is what makes it all worthwhile. Spending countless hours training on rollerskis, running, ski walking and biking during the dryland season to reach the top of the podium, is one big package. Either you love or you don't reach your goals! Sure, you can prefer one type of training to another, but if you neglect one of these aspects too much, you'll lack the ingredients you need for the winning recipe!

September is also one of the toughest months in terms of training. During the next month I will complete close to 90 hours of training (average of 3 hours/day), and begin adding harder intensity workouts. I can't wait! I love pushing my body to see how fast I can be and how strong I can get! I know that by the end of this training cycle I will be extremely tired, but I also know that I will have lots of time to recover in the month of October. With all the hours we do our bodies get more and more tired as the summer wears on and during the last few months of the dryland season, little nagging injuries start appearing. It's a sign from you body saying: " Hey, when are you going to quit this dryland pounding and get on some of that soft, fluffy white stuff?" Having been injured many, many times in my past, I've grown to be very aware of how my body is tuned. Last week, 4 days after having done a XC running race at the Nakiska downhill ski resort, I felt a funny little quirk behind my left knee. I couldn't really think of a reason for my knee to be sore since I had felt great after the run (Oh, except for those toonie sized blisters on my heels). The next day after having done 10 X 45 sec. full out sprints on the Training Centre's treadmill, the slight hick I felt the day before turned into a major discomfort to a point where I could no longer run. This was not good! The doctor's verdict: an inflammation in some obscure ligament on the side of the knee most likely caused during the downhill portion of the race at Nakiska. After a week of popping anti-inflammatory pills, physiotherapy, lots of icing, stretching, leg exercises and saunas, the injury finally went away. Tomorrow, I will attempt to run for 30min. to test it out. I'm sure I'll pass with flying colors.

When you train at this level, your bodies are always riding a fine line between good and bad. You can be feeling great one day but if push your body just a little too far you cross that line and suffer the consequences. I crossed the line by ignoring my knee and running again too soon after my race. Instead, I should have done intensity on rollerskis, which is a little easier on my old bones! I guess I can learn something from those RVs after all. I should have noticed my speed bump ahead and slowed down a bit. You live and learn. It never ends!

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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