Monday, October 8, 2001 - Perspective
NSDT Update: Fall Doldrums

- By: Gord Jewett

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Skiing is one of the hardest sports in the world, requiring over a decade of dedication to reach the highest international level. Although we train like mad all summer and race and travel constantly during the winter, fall is one of toughest times of the year for a ski racer. Our love of skiing and our common goals of being better and faster drive us, but to ski at the elite level, we have to endure training that we do not always love. Everyone has a cross training activity that they don't enjoy. For some it is running, while others wouldn't touch a bike with a ten-foot ski pole. At this time of year, my most dreaded activity is roller skiing. The monotony of months of pavement pounding has gotten me down, and I've got the Fall Doldrums.

As the weather grows steadily colder (we had our first snowfall of about half an inch a few days ago in Canmore), pole tips start to slip on the hard pavement, and roller skiing properly becomes increasingly difficult. For some reason, all my joints start to ache as I roller ski. I think they must have the doldrums too! Focus comes with increasing difficulty, and my mind starts to wonder to the snow covered ski trails of winter. When snow does finally come, we always hope for a big dump, because a small snowfall will just make roller skiing more difficult, and the gravel that will cover the roads makes crashing more frequent. As with any hardship, the key is to overcome it.

I think everyone must have their own tricks at this time of year, and fortunately I've got a few up my sleeve that are going to come in handy. The first thing I do is get prepared for the onset of the doldrums. I don't want them sneaking up on me one night and taking me by surprise. I have to be at the top of my mental game to maintain focus, and preparation is key. Once the onset begins, I remind myself that the doldrums are actually a GOOD sign! If I had been lazy all summer and neglected any of the hard work that is necessary, I would be mentally fresh at this point. They indicate that I have worked hard and done everything right. This helps me keep a positive outlook, which is most important. It always helps to start looking forward to being on snow and to racing. Fortunately, this will be an easy task for me. I only have to look forward two weeks to our training camp in Fairbanks, Alaska. This will be the earliest I have been on snow in my career and I am all smiles. I know that salvation is near!

While the doldrums are mostly mental, they also affect my body. I am slightly more tired at this time of year, and the monitoring tests we do indicate that this is not only mental. Although training is always important, I want to enter our first camp in great shape, ready to take on the season. To facilitate this, my coach and I will put an additional emphasis on being well rested over the next two weeks. This past week has been very easy and I am hoping that my body has had the rest it needs to survive the last two weeks of pavement. Tomorrow will be the start of week 41, and yet another chance to step into the ring with the doldrums. I am determined to overcome them yet again.

Athletes need to stay focused and remember that the winter is near. The work that has been done all summer will soon pay off, and those that have made the smartest efforts will reap the rewards as the races near. Let's all give the doldrums a smile and kiss them good bye. In a few weeks we won't be seeing them again until next year!

(Gordon Jewett was a member of the Canadian Team for 4 years before being forced to take 2 years off racing to recover from a serious back injury. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, he now continues his comeback with the National Senior Development Team in Canmore, Alberta.)

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