6.12.13 Summer Training
Hi MYSL kids! I’m writing to you from Park City, Utah. It’s another beautiful hot sunny day – and it hasn’t rained once since I got here, almost 2 weeks ago! I feel like I am living in Paradise. I am sharing a condo up in Empire Village with my teammates, which is at 8,100 feet of elevation. Compare that to the average elevation of Minnesota – 1,200ft, and I’m basically living 6,900 feet in the air above Minnesota! When you’re higher up, it’s much harder to breathe, and until my body adjusted it felt like I was trying to breathe through a straw. Try it sometime – it’s pretty tough, especially once you try climbing up the stairs!
For those of you interested in science, there’s actually the same amount of oxygen up higher, but because the air pressure is lower, we can’t absorb the oxygen in our lungs as well, so it feels like it’s much harder to breathe (because it is!) But once you stay up at higher elevation for a while, your body makes changes so that eventually you can breathe easier. You acclimatize, which means you produce more red blood cells, which carry oxygen, and your lungs expand. When you have acclimatized and then go back down to lower elevation (like going from Park City back to Minnesota, or Vermont, where I’m going), you get a boost in fitness because your body has extra lung capacity and extra red blood cells. After a few weeks your body will return to normal.
So right now we’re living way up high on purpose, doing what we call an “altitude block” of training. This means that we’ll live up around 8,000ft for 4 weeks, so that our bodies will acclimatize, and then when we go back to Vermont we can train extra hard for a couple weeks. Athletes all over the world use altitude training, and it’s one way of helping their bodies train harder than they normally could.
Skiers from Around the World (or in this case, the US):
There are many professional athletes living here in Park City, from all over the US and a number of different sports. There’s alpine, mogul, freestyle, half pipe, snowboard, snowboard-cross, ski jumpers, and Nordic combined athletes. Many of these athletes are Olympians, and a handful of them even have Olympic medals! There are some really talented mountain bikers and great trail runners in town as well. On any given day, you’ll see athletes out training for their sport, or cross training to get in shape, like when the alpine skiers go biking to get better endurance.
It’s fun to meet other winter sport athletes, and see what they do for training. For example, us cross country skiers might go running for a warm-up before strength workouts, but the freestyle skiers do their warm-up in the gym by walking around the track on their hands, working on their balance and coordination. Or the snowboarders might do their warm-up on the trampolines, working on their back flips and tricks.
Cool things about Park City, Utah:
One of the best things about living in Park City is getting to use the Center of Excellence (the COE), which is where the US Ski Team has its headquarters and where most of the athletes live and train. The Cross Country skiers usually come to town a couple times during the summer to do testing, or an altitude training block. And while we’re in town, we use the COE to do strength training in, since it has a huge gym and strength coaches there to work with us on proper lifting techniques. But my absolute favorite part of the COE is the “ramps and tramps” room, which has a mini indoor skateboard park, a foam pit, and two huge trampolines. After each strength training session, I go to the ramps and tramps room to do my cool-down by jumping on the trampolines and practicing my balance on the slack-line that they set up. Walking the slack-line is like walking on a wide tightrope, and it’s great for skiers like me that are always trying to improve their balance!
This month’s training tip is about getting strong and growing MUSCLES! We do a lot of weight lifting, 2 to 3 times a week, so that we get strong and when we ski we can push off each leg with a lot of power. But you don’t need to go to a gym to get strong! When I was younger we sometimes did strength at practice by just using our body weight, doing pushups, lunges and sit-ups. Using just your body weight is also good because if you’re lifting with weights and don’t have a coach there to help you with the right technique, you can get hurt. That’s why I recommend only doing strength exercises that you can do anywhere and don’t need a gym for, unless you have a coach with you!
If you want to try doing strength this month, here’s what I suggest: do 10 pushups, 15 sit-ups and 20 walking lunges, rest, and then do it two more times. If you feel sore the next day or even the day after, that means you’re starting to get stronger! You don’t have to do strength much, especially when you’re young, and I wouldn’t recommend doing strength more than 3 times a week, max. But it’s fun to challenge yourself and see improvements – I bet the third time you do strength, it’ll feel much easier than the first!
Till next time,