Masters Biathlon camp

I’m on my way to the Masters Biathlon camp at Mt Hotham. This is week long camp is the highlight of the sporting year.

Every year coaches Paul and Tosh run the Masters camp. It’s a really good mix of people. Everyone had different experience and expectations for what they want or if the camp. Some treat it as a serious training camp, cough cough that would be me. While others want a bit of time on the snow and drinking fine wines in the evenings. We all stay together and have dinner together. There is a really good vibe.

The camp end with the Victorian championship races which are great practice for the Australian titles.

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Mixing it up

Running is my normal go-to activity for fitness but I’ve hurt so my foot so I have had  to limit how much running I can do. I’d already done a strength and Pilates session this week so I thought I do HITT for a change. Wow, it was hard. It reminded me of the value of mixing up your training.

By mixing up your training you get to work muscles that might have been neglected. It’s also keeps you fresh.

Another example of this effect was I had been doing tricep dips for months and felt pretty comfortable doing them. My coach then got me to do a different tricep exercise and it was really hard. After a few weeks it wasn’t too difficult. In theory I should have blitzed an exercise that worked the same muscle group but even exercising the same muscles but with a different exercise can challenge you and improve your performance.

Mix it up!!

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Finding time to train as a Master

One of the hardest things about being a Master is finding the time to train, while still being a dad, going to work etc. You do need to be clever and plan carefully.

A few things I do:

  • When I take one of the boys to soccer or rugby I don’t stand around hugging a cappuccino and chat. Instead I use this time to go for a run. Most of the time I still get to watch at least half the game.
  • I do my strength and flexibility training at home so I can watch over the youngest. He actually likes to join in so I turn into a game where I setup an obstacle course for him which includes my ladder drills.
  • Go for a run or do plyometrics at lunchtime. There is nothing better than getting out of the office and into the sunshine, especially in Winter, and getting some exercise.
  • When I go rollerskiing one of my sons rides his bike.

You will still need to schedule in some time to do some sessions but by using a little bit of imagination you can get your training done and so have family time.

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Breaking old habits

I did an Autumn Camp last weekend which was wonderful. One of the things I found out was that I have a major flaw in my roller skiing. In one respect it’s very hard to hear that you have a problem but it is good to have something to work on. Now to break the habit.

This weekend is the Easter long weekend so every day I’m going out on roller skis and working on my technique step by step. It’s mentally draining but it has to be done. I think it is working but I believe it is going to take a long long time. 

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Catch-up for the last 9 months

I’ve haven’t been updating this blog for many different reasons so I thought it was time to catch-up.

August 2016, I competed in the Australian championships and I won. I won the Masters Men’s Individual event. My skiing was good but what really clinched it was my shooting. In the weeks proceeding I become very flustered with my target shooting. I was missing a lot and you can’t afford to earn many time penalties. And so on the advice of a ex Commonwealth Games target shooter I resolved to take as much time as I needed to get perfect shots. This worked brilliantly. I could ski fast enough that I had time to spare and I ended up as the second most accurate shooter in my group, therefore no one could beat me. Mission accomplished.

The next day was the Sprint event and I completely blew it and to this day I don’t know why. I followed the same procedure in the range and I missed and I missed. I seemed to spend the whole race doing penalty laps while watching my friends disappear up the hill.

One funny moment though was I was skiing up the hill and I could hear someone closing on me. I turned around to see who it was and in doing so crashed into the snow. When I looked up Frank was grinning back at me. Well I wasn’t going to give up so easily so I set off​ after him. I was closing the distance very gradually until Frank suddenly fell over. I skied past and shouted “Jinx”. 

That’s enough for now. I’ll write another update soon. Promise.

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Skike vs Rollerskis

Rollerskis and Skikes simulate the actions of cross country or Nordic skiing but instead of snow you use them on the road or footpaths. That makes them ideal for training during the Summer months. There is no reason not to  enjoy them in its own right as it is quite fun. There are a lot of similarities between the Rollerskis and Skikes and it really depends on why you want them, your experience and how much you want to spend.

Roller skis are planks of either aluminium, fibreglass, wood or a carbon composite material with a wheel at either end. They use the same binding as cross country skis. This means that you have to use cross country ski boots, which you need to factor into the cost. With both Skikes and rollerskis you use cross country ski poles. The technique is the same as cross country skiing.

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Roller skis

 

As in Nordic skis there are classic and skate style roller skis. There are also combi roller skis that can do both. I only skate ski so my comments are only about skating. I have tried to skate with a combi ski that had wide tyres and I hated them. They were sluggish and I had to work hard to get any momentum out of them. The rollerskis I now own have hard rubber thin wheels which are ideal for skate skiing.

Most rollerskis do not have brakes but I wasn’t prepared to use them without fitting a brake. I bought a Jenex V2 Universal brake and even though it is not as good as the brakes on Skikes it does the job. With rollerskis you only have a brake on one ski. Don’t mix them up though. One day I put my rollerskis on and I didn’t realise that I had  swapped sides. So I push my right foot out to brake, the one that normally has the brake, and nothing happened. I then fell onto my butt in my confusion.

Because rollerskis are so similar to cross country skis if you are training for cross country ski racing then roller skis are the better option. The thin wheels mean you have to have your balance just right particularly with one-skate (V2).

Skikes are like roller skis but they have larger pneumatic tyres, brakes and they work with normal shoes. Most of them are not hinged at the foot like rollerskis are although there is a model that offers that feature. The large tyres mean that you can skate over rougher roads and even go off-road. This opens up a whole world of possibilities such as going through the bush. What I do like about Skikes is that I can use them on paths that have lots of twigs and wooden plank bridges  without getting the wheels jammed and doing a face plant.

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Skike

 

Skikes come with brakes standard and operate on both feet which make it a lot safer and give you more confidence, especially in hilly terrain. You activate the brakes by leaning slightly back or straightening your knees.

The larger rubber wheels on Skikes make them easier to balance on than roller skis. The easier balance, brakes and the lower entry price make Skikes my recommendation for beginners.

My personal experience 

I started on Skikes and I still use them for rough roads. After 12 months of Skiking I’m now using roller skis on the recommendation of a coach to improve my balance and therefore my cross country skiing. The Skikes were ideal for learning. They took me from a low level to where I am today.  I still used Skikes for certain tracks that have lots of debris on them. I found the roller skis much harder to balance on and although it had been months since I fell on Skikes I have had about 6 accidents since I took up roller skiing (mainly grazes to my knees, hands and a sore butt). It is definitely helping my balance which will help my skiing but the learning curve is hurting a bit.

If you are in Sydney and you want to try either Roller skis or Skikes then contact me through the comments.

Skikes can be purchased from http://www.skike.com.au/

 

Skikes RollerSkis
Pros All terrain

Brakes

Easier to balance on

Price

Better for ski racers practising for competition.

Lighter

Cons Doesn’t replicate skiing as accurately Usually don’t have brakes

More expensive with boots and bindings

Requires more technique

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Training update (Autumn)

It was good to see quite a few roller skiers at Lane Cove today. Most of them I don’t know which shows that the sport is much deeper than my group.

I’m still getting the hang of my new roller skis but I have definitely turned a corner. I’m much better at balancing one leg now during One Skate (V2). I can’t push at 100% yet without feeling like I’m going to fall over but I’m getting there.

My target shooting in the prone position is going very well. My accuracy is great and I’m getting less random misses. My standing is not so good. My shots are going low although thanks to my coach, Jill, we think we have identified the problem and so with a bit of practise I should be able to get back to a reasonable level of accuracy.

I met another Olympian on Saturday. Dusan Kožíšek  is a cross country skier and has previously competed in the Winter Olympics. He was about to fly back to the Czech republic and had some ski poles for sale. It’s a shame I didn’t have enough time to go roller-skiing with him.

The first snow flakes of the season have fallen and I can feel the excitement building. Also, I’m feeling a bit apprehensive. Have I done enough? Will my balance be good enough by the competition?

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Getting used to RollerSkis (ouch!)

I went to one of my favourite locations for roller skiing today, Lane Cove National Park. I haven’t had my new roller skis for long and compared to my Skikes they are harder to balance on. This is particularly the case when I one-skate.

I had two falls. Once onto my butt and the other was almost a face plant. The road is a lot harder than snow I can tell you. However, there is no real bruising and only a few little scratches. More importantly no one else witnessed it.

Because of the difficulty of learning to balance again it wasn’t much of a workout. This was really highlighted by the other roller skier who was flying past me. I’m hoping it will only take me a few weeks to get my balance and then I can focus on getting some speed.

BTW I think brakes are a must with rollerskis. Lane Cove has a lot of hills and some are very steep. I might be a wuz but I’d rather be a wuz than sit out the Winter with a broken bone.

lane cove park2.jpg

 

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New Rollerskis

I’ve bought a pair of rollerskis. As much as I love my Skikes I’ve been told by a coach to get some roller skis. Roller skis are harder to balance on and so this should help my technique for when I finally get on the snow. They don’t feel that different to my Skikes. Having the larger wheels on these rollerskis definitely helps with twigs but I’ll still use my Skikes for rough asphalt such as at Cumberland State Forest.

I’ve fitted brakes, produced by Jenex. They fit with no problems. (the instructions from Jenex though are appalling). The brakes aren’t as effective as the Skike’s brakes but they do the job and considering some of the steep roads I go down I wouldn’t feel confident skating without them.

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Training as a Master (over 40 years old)

Training and competing when you are over 40 has its challenges but it didn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sport of your choice and be injury free. The first thing you need to do is train smart and above all avoid injury. Once you are injured your training program is impeded and it is going to be hard to make any progress.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learnt.

  • The warm up is very important. You need to make sure all your muscles are warm and limber before you put any stress on them. This is more important the older you are.
  • Build up gradually. Too many people attack their training with a hard run/swim/cycle/weights and then spend the rest of their time injured. You need to build up your strength and fitness gradually.
  • Play a sport you love. If you like swimming then do that. If you like jogging then do that. Only by doing a sport that you enjoy will you be motivated.
  • Use an event as motivation. To keep training enrol in a Fun Run or competition. Having a goal will give you something to work towards. All my training is for the annual Biathlon.
  • Stretch your problem area every day until it’s OK. When I started running again, after a long break, I keep getting pain in my knees. Instead of giving up I did the same stretch for 5 mins every morning. It took 3 months but I now have no pain in my knees.
  • Make time. Everyone is busy but if John Howard while he was Prime Minister of Australia can find time to  exercise then so can you.
  • Have an exercise plan. This gives some structure and will motivate you to exercise instead of “I’m don’t feel like it today”.

I hope that helps all you middle aged biathlon athletes out there.

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