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Training for the CSM

February 12, 2010

I first heard about the Canadian Ski Marathon in January of 2002.  Lexi and I joined a small GMC contingent to climb the Wildcats and Carters in the White Mountains.  The trail from Pinkham Notch gets serious almost immediately.  The traditional way around here to descend steep winter trails is on your butt.  That makes for a fun ride home if your pants are up to the challenge, but it makes a rather smooth and hardpacked trail for those who find the need to go up first.  If you’ve ever been sledding, you know that the way back to the top of the hill is along the side where the snow hasn’t been compacted by a zillion screams.  Getting up the steep slope of the first of the Wildcats was a tricky affair: frontpointing with snowshoes.

I figured that I was in okay shape.  I ran some, biked some, and did plenty of hiking.  I was much surprised to be dropped by Ferd Lauffer, an “older” guy who was charging up the mountain at a feverish pace.  When I inquired how he was in such rockin’ shape, he told me that he was training for the Canadian Ski Marathon…100 miles in two days.  “Impossible!”  (with Quebecois accent of course)  A year later, Lexi and I both completed our Coureur de Bois Bronze (skiing all 10 sections) on our first try.

This year I’ll be aiming to rack up my 4th Coureur de Bois Gold finish.  Its pretty simple:  start at 5:40AM, ski 70K classic before 3:15 PM to be allowed onto the last ~12K section.  Pack along bivy gear and meals.  Get the best sleep you can manage around the Gold Camp bondfires, and repeat the skiing on Sunday.  Persistence, reasonable ski technique, and a solid endurance base are all you really need.

My training plan in previous years was pretty simple:

Build base endurance in the fall in some random way.
Keep it up as best you can during stick/ice season.
Get on the snow ASAP and get 100K in during December.
Build up the weekly “long” ski to 45-50K, two weeks before event.
Get 400-500K done.

As a part of my Tour Divide training, this year was a bit different.  First of all, I rode 4500 miles in 2009, versus 950 in 2008.  Second, I got on the CrossFit bandwagon over the summer.  Third, I started to make riding the bike trainer a regular part of my routine (and one that meshes well with a kid’s naptime and early bedtime).  Fourthly, I started a training program a bit more structured than…more on that in a later posting.

So, I came into ski season more fit than in previous years.  Then a screwy snow year dumped all of “our” snow on ungrateful places like Washington D.C.  Ski conditions around here have been rather marginal for a couple of weeks, unless you go to Bolton-Trapps-Mansfield, which are lovely.  As a result, the bike trainer has been an important tool this year.  I’ve been on the beast as long as three hours at a time, but also done a bunch of interval sessions.  Where previously I just skied and counted up the Ks, now I’m counted hours.  Doing so seems to be standard in training-land, but its a bit of a novelty to me.

I’ve been doing 13-16 training hours per week since mid December and my resting heart rate keeps heading downward.  Two weeks ago I classic skied for 5.5 hours at Trapps and felt good all the way through.  That’s my longest pre-CSM ski ever.  I’m good to go!

Just heading out now to pick up a pile of sausages for the Gold Camp fire.  Its always good to have a food motivation.

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