Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mmmmmm.... sleep.

I have found the perfect combination to put me to sleep - a little Bailey's 'n milk, a couch with lots of fuzzy blankets all to myself, and ice dancing.  Yes, ice dancing.  Ok - maybe not just ice dancing - I was so sleepy after a long weekend at Liberty that I napped through Bode's gold and woke up to... you guessed it, ice dancing.  I am officially sick of ice dancing.  I'm sure it requires athletic prowess, but in my book, it's akin to rhythmic gymnastics.

Ski season ends in a little less than 6 weeks.  Mountain bike race season starts in a little more than 6 weeks.  I will be ready for neither of those events to happen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Performance anxiety...

Our bodies physiologically respond to stress and anxiety.  I know that you cyclists out there know what I mean - look at the line for the port-o-pot at any race.  Based on my own mom at horse shows when I used to ride, I think most moms do too. 

I was up skiing at Elk yesterday with some other staff trainers from Liberty, and we got to talking about how to train for performance mode.  At least for me, performance mode is different physiologically in skiing than it is in bike racing - my body responds differently.  I have to wonder if this is because I train so differently for my two passions.

Last year at Dev Team Tryouts (skiing), I was in a zone where I couldn't think, could barely form a sentence, and was singing random songs loudly enough that people thought I was tuned into my ipod (I wasn't).  By contrast, at most bike races I'm either visually and mentally focused at the start line (i.e. ignoring you no matter who you are) or I really really have to pee.  Sometimes I'll chat with friends at cross races to make the interminable time between call-ups and the whistle go faster.

In thinking about it, I train for performance often when I'm riding.  I race most weekends.  I train time trials on the road a few times a month.  I ride with mountain biking friends that are faster than me and try to keep up (never mind that usually I am trying this after they've already ridden for a couple of hours).

In skiing (especially at a small, mid-atlantic "mountain"), I train for precision.  A lot.  I do drills, focus on movements on every turn, follow others and mimic their movements - feeling how those movements affect my skis.  In other words, I look pretty most of the time. In skiing unlike in bike racing, I don't often experience exam situations - where the outcome is measured by someone other than me.

So then how can we as ski instructors train for performance? Well, obviously we need to put ourselves in the position to perform more often.  Clinic less, ski more?  Ski under the lifts when I know people are watching?  Race through the bumps, testing balance and agility?  Get the video camera trained on me more often, knowing that people I respect will dissect the movements?  Let it all hang out when the conditions are dicey?

I'm pretty sure this is not the last time I'll think or write about this.  Perhaps this is really just a preview of what I'll eventually write for the DivaSkiTips blog.  Who knows.  If the microscope was working and the database server wasn't in use, I wouldn't be writing at the moment anyway.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I'll admit it, the snow has been too deep for me to venture out even on my singlespeed bike.  I think if I lived right next to my favorite trails, this wouldn't be the case.  But seeing as my car has been parked in the garage at work all week and our truck is still somewhere in a snowbank, the concept of driving to a trailhead is not good.

So instead, I've been "cross-training."  The daily activity is known as hiking to work - complete with snow boots and ski pants.  I could've used the snowshoes yesterday.  While normally it's a mere 20 minute stroll from home to lab, the lack of sidewalks open, drifts, slippery roads and unplowed park where I normally take a short cut means it's bordering on 35 minutes.  Yesterday, we did it in the blizzard.  Only it didn't take as long because I stopped with some friends at the local pub for upper body cross-training.

This afternoon I needed some "interval" core cross-training.  So I shoveled.  Our parking spot out back.  In case there wasn't enough core strength involved in plain old shoveling, a bunch of branches were strewn in the old snow and under the new snow.  Refreshing.  Nothing like aiming shovels of snow at a tree and pine boughs sufficient to look like a large Christmas tree onto a pile in the back yard.  As I was stomping my shoes at the end of the session, I noticed about a 6 foot drift across our basement door.  Yeah, good thing I wasn't planning to drag that singlespeed out today.

Weekend cross-training - yeah, you know it!  Hiking uphill on skis meant for going down, picking up kids, and doing top-to-bottom runs in the worse conditions I can find with ski instructor exam prep candidates.  Oh, and snowshoeing, too.  Yup, we're probably going to need to get out the snowshoes to get the dogs to their happy weekend house.