Summary of the Winter 2016-17 then:
Conditions:Variable, with shallow bases making the whole set up a little firmer than last winter's dump. Ideal test for using skintec 'furry' skis which performed well on almost every day, from new snow, wet easter snow to hard snow.
Fitness:I found that I respond much better to going out several days in a row rather than every other day. I could literally feel the tone and condition in my muscles coming on over the course of the first three days I got out at the beginning of February.
For me personally this is a bit of a break through in training philosophy, because before I used to do a hard hour sweat sess', rest day, long easy session day, rest day and avoid going every day.
Double poling and double pole with single kick have been techniques I have worked a little upon, especially the latter, and had pretty good response.
Due to the shallow snow I found that I was getting much better efficiency for all the techniques, with some days when the skin was giving ideal kick-glide pay off, being as if my skis were electrically assisted.
I have varied my training with up to three hour, steady sessions but always with some pushing of my envelope. No sessions have been less than an hour, and I have tried to peak in the shorter sessions after a careful warm up, and attempt a warm down.
My back as usual has been crampy the first few times out, especially with a bum-bag, so I will need to do more pilates and find a new, specific exercise for the classic langrenn stance.
This winter (in the spell in November too) I have been concentrating solely on classic style. This is because I wanted to really test out my new Atomic Skintecs to see if they were the allround training ski I was looking for ( I got them for a bargain 600 kr in VGC!!). They have proven to be as good as the conditions!
The hard 'spenn' ie stiff pre-tension, of the Skintec I have with carbon section in the walls, is challenging for me but I have concentrated a lot on getting the style of pressing with the whole sole of the foot as the hip swings under the body weight. In soft conditions I have had to use a more 'bull pawing' technique with the ball of the foot so as to get the ski in and down to attain grip and this is quite tiring.
Also I have been trying to get the swing forward to work such that the ski lands more parallel and does not clap down. I have exagerrated this a bit and also tried to find glide and fit tempo to glide, with great success. Before I was trying to stick to a tempo and perhaps miss glide opportunities.
This year I failed to concentrate more on balance and manoevrability which lead to me losing my bottle on what may be the last day of the season. As mentioned, skate skiing should be part of my first few hours out of a season to get back that sense of balance and confidence to power off and step turn on one ski.
Double pole with kick has beena technique I found difficult and I felt outright clumsy using it. Now though I have been able to improve my timing/coordination and sneak the ski forward before kicking and it all seemed a lot more natural this year, with very surprising improvments in speed over 'slack' sections where poling alone is slow and diagonal a little too 'glidey'. This year the shallower snow has no doubt helped my improvement in this technique because I found last year that it was sucking me of energy for little actual propulsion on my newly aquired, stiffer skis. I was either not getting kick or having to dig and brake a little in finding it last season.
If anything this year I am most pleased then, with my improvement in Double Pole with single kick, because it should be an efficient technique in 'keeping the wheel turning'. I found I had really amazing return on investment so to speak when using this, with the profit in speed and maintaining momentum vastly outweighing the input of energy and concentration.
Having said all this I do now see that the racing brigade in the club and especially the sixty somethings, have much better efficiency than me. They are at least 40kg light than me though, and forty years more experienced than me, so I win on moral handicap. I see that my fitness only needs to come on about say 20% to enjoy training runs with the better folk in club, while my technique for the day's conditions needs a bit more work perhaps. If I am serious about trying to keep up with the better guys in their easy to medium sessions, then I had better get a softer pair of skis for softer conditions.
I have been soley using my Atomic Skintec, and found them to be excellent if conditions are not fully 'polished' hard, concrete like, or on the other end of the scale very soft. New snow with a lot of air (kramsnø) presents a problem which may mean I revert to my broader tour skis on such days which float my weight much better.
I havent used my skate skis at all this year for various reasons, having only combi boots and classic poles holding me back a little, but more that there has been gravel or soft conditions in the mid sections of the runs, and the best place for beginners like me in this art, was only opened last week and will be closed later today when the rain sets in unfortunately.
This is a real shame because I am moving job to Østfold where they often have very little snow in winter, and I would like to get into roller skiing in skate style as a form of out of season training. Also as I noted yesterday on what may be my last outing, my balance on hard, rilled suurfaces was really poor so a few sessions out plodding around on skate skis would have helped once again!
I recommend that anyone interested in taking up the sport or doing back country tours, learns first to skate on skis because it will improve you balance and general manoevrability enormously over just sticking to the tram lines and sliding your skis as most new beginners do.
Goals for 2018
Well I suspect I need a big goal, and that would be today's run in fact, the Telemark Helten (Hero of Telemark) in Rauland. This is a 42km race with varied height but is not as extreme as Birk'en and for me a lot more manageable logistics from home.
This will mean training sessions of up to 4 hours, or two three hour sessions in a day, which will mean using winter holiday to get the miles in to the legs while enjpoying varied scenery and good conditions up in the mountains rather than purely relying on the now variable and poor lowland conditions we seem to be getting in south Norway now.
I aim to start the season on skate skis, or perhaps try Skikes or roller skis in the summer even. THis summer I will concentrate on cycling with a comnbination of steady sessions, hill climbing and sprinty interval sessions. I also intend to do some elg hoofing in the autumn up in woodlands, once the salt gets put on the roads. I find my brisk walking helped this year because I pushed it to over 10km once or twice a week, and kept up a good series spurned on by borrowing a neighbours dog. But it isn't quite intense enough. I should be able to join a gymn and work on treadmills and weights, plus pilates.
Over the summer I have to loose some weight !
Equipment next year
I have stretched my combi boots out this year too, despite them being a little worn in places. Jens Stoltenberg has a pair! They help a bit with ankle control on longer down hills and if you of course want to skate a bit, which you can usually do very well on skin skis btw. The boots have a mediocre lining which has given way around my spurred heels, and are patched over with spinnaker tape for now. Next year I need two sets of boots and a set of longer skate poles! So I am in for quite a big hit in terms of cash.
I would like to have a softer pair of skis for softer conditions next year, but there is a company which will machine out sections of the sole and stick in what looks like velcro (and probably is). Otherwise grip tape does a good job until it gets hard in the tracks.
Given my boots survive and I get used equipment then I would be better spending the cash saved on some Cabin tours with pals, to enjoy 'blue wax' conditions and do some longer days slow, steady training.
I will also have to look at cleaning my skins and maybe using a spray on them. I used a roll on glider over them which has seemed to give benefit, if a little loss of grip perhaps, difficult to say in this year's variable conditions.
Given wads of cash, I would like to have another, softer pair of skin skis which would be the alternative for those times i have been slogging away.