Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - Perspective
Phil's XC Journal: Itís not all about Skiing!

- By: Phil Villeneuve

Eat, Sleep, SkiÖI used to live by this motto.† Now itís more like ďGet up, Work on the computer, Eat, Contact sponsors, Ski (so I can actually get a break from all the work), and then work some moreĒ.† Funny how things change over time.

I actually really enjoy the new direction my lifestyle has taken.† This has been one of my best summer of training and I attribute it in part to the variety in my training routine and my daily working habits.† Being involved with the X-C.com Racing Team has given me the freedom to train how I want, when I want and given me a chance to even start thinking about the future (See mom, I told you Iíd figure it out eventually)!

A few weeks ago I turned 29 years oldÖyeah, yeah, I knowÖ itís not quite game over, but Iím still closing in on the big 3 and 0 way too fast for my liking.† Iíve been racing for over 14 years and Iím just starting to really enjoy this whole training thing. So what I am doing different?† Cross-country ski racing has been and will continue to be the focus of my training for another 3 years but all of sudden my interests seem to be diverging from the usual routine.† I still spend the better part of the dryland season rollerskiing or running with poles but if I can throw in a twist to spice things up such as mountain running, rock climbing or other outdoor adventure sports, then giddy up.

If Iím not outside chasing squirrels and beating away rabid dogs as they chase me down the road, youíll find me plugging away at my duties as the X-C.com Racing Team manager.† These tasks involve taking care of the teamís marketing objectives (financial and commercial sponsorships), preparing the teamís promotional calendar and managing our website (www.x-c.com which is only 3/4 finished by the way).† Keeping up to an 800 hr training plan on top of the teamís management schedule has made for a very challenging but extremely gratifying experienceÖso far.

Itís the path Iíve chosen and I really do think that it has helped me become a better athlete by giving me something else to think about in between training sessions and forcing me to organize my schedule so I can fit everything in 24hrs.† The biggest difference between now and then is that when it comes time to train, I put on my training hat and focus.† I still do all the little things that matter but when training is done, the hat comes off and itís time for Philly to play!

I used to love to talk shop, think skiing, breath skiing and dream skiingÖnot any more, or at least not as much.† I still get a wicked rush from seeing how fast I can be, how hard I can push or how much I can hurt.† That will most likely never change, but my lifestyle around skiing is changingÖ

The big debate about having a life outside of skiing is entirely up to you.† Some athletes can think skiing 24/7, and chase the ď24 hr athleteĒ status as best they can, working on their personal couch imprints watching TV or reading for hours on end in between workouts.† Others chose to combine training with school or work.† In the end, only you know what is best for you, so choose your lifestyle and givíer!

There isnít a magic recipe for performing well but I definitely think that you have to be happy at what you chose to do.† The big issue with skiing is finding a way to make cash so you can keep plugging away the kmís and get your fix from this training addiction. This is a tough challenge, but not an impossible one.† Iíve always believed that if you want anything bad enough, youíll find a way to get it.† Iím certainly not making a living at skiing yet but Iím slowly getting there.† Initiative, creativity and a hell of a lot of determination are the keys to sticking it out in this sport.† My coach has a saying:† ďSki fast and everything will take care of itselfĒ. Well, making it to the big leagues in skiing by reaching the Canadian National Cross-Country Skiing Programs will definitely help your financial queries but it wonít allow you to buy that new pink Cady youíve been dreaming about.† The government support (carding), which also includes post-secondary education credits, offers stipends that are dependent on your level.† The maximum an amateur athlete can make is $13,000/year, not exactly striking it rich but a good complement to allow you some breathing room.† If you donít fall in this category (like yours truly for example), you have your work cut out for you.† However, skiing fast is only one part of the puzzle, the other, is being able to market yourself effectively (but Iíll have to ramble on about that one in another article).

My career as a professional cross-country skier has come a long way from the goodíol days but still has much room for improvement.† Iíve got things pretty dialled in terms of training and the direction I want to take, now itís just a matter of making it happen on the circuit.† With the race season around the corner, the big question in many skiersí minds is: ďHow will I perform this year?Ē† Well, if you donít know already (which you should by the way), youíll soon find out!† As for my own personal predictions, Iíll keep you hanging for a little while longer.

Check out www.x-c.com for more racing news and updates.

Thatís it for today,
Phil



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