Nordic Notes with Simi Hamilton: A little rest and relaxation during the break
December 27, 2017
SEEFELD, Austria — We all need balance in our lives. It doesn't matter what profession we're in, how good we are at one specific thing, or how passionate we are about achieving our loftiest goals. When the moment to take a deep breath, reflect, and relax presents itself, it's imperative that we take it.
In my notes from the World Cup this week, I want to share with you why this relationship between racing hard and resting is such a fundamental and important part of our sport. For most of us who ski race internationally, our training plans call for between 800-1,000 hours of training and racing a year.
All of those hours have their place on a broad spectrum of intensity and type of training. We find ourselves doing everything from six-hour mountain runs in the sweltering heat in July to 30×30 seconds of all out sprint-speed training on the snow in January, to two-hour sessions of pumping iron in the gym three times per week, year round.
But at this level of ski racing, the hours don't matter if you are never giving your body the rest it needs.
A coach of ours actually got this phenomenon tattooed on his forearm a few years back. I guess he was getting a little sick of explaining to non-athletes (or just the ones who weren't very smart with their training) the idea of stressing your body over a period of time to the point where you actually just start feeling, for lack of a better word, terrible, and then letting your body rest after it has been suppressed so that your aerobic and anaerobic systems rebound to levels of fitness and speed that exceeded where they were before you started training.
It's a straightforward concept, as is clearly demonstrated by the simple graph of colored lines he has tattooed on his left arm, but it has been overlooked and undervalued by many athletes, amateur and professional alike, in the history of focused training and competing.
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As I write this, I'm taking advantage of one of those rare opportunities during our season to relax a bit, and let my body and mind catch back up to a place that will leave them ready and eager to put on a race bib in a few days as our holiday break comes to a close. My girlfriend, Sophie, and I have been living in Seefeld, Austria, for the last 10 days, taking advantage of 100 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails out our back door, our own kitchen for cooking our favorite dinners, and a comfortable bed where we sleep 10-12 hours per night.
We certainly haven't been slacking all day. Our days still consist of three-hour long easy skis and puke-worthy interval sessions, but we've had the mental break from racing we need right now, and our down time has consisted of many hours playing cribbage on the couch and catching up on news from home.
When we fast forward to Saturday, when we'll pull onto a World Cup for the start of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, we'll know that our bodies and our minds are ready to kick-off another round of this crazy, fun circus we call World Cup ski racing.
Editor's note: Nordic Notes is a weekly column written by Aspen-raised cross-country skiers Simi Hamilton and Noah Hoffman as they compete on the World Cup circuit ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
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