To Lofer yesterday to watch
the kayaking (white water race world cup). Did not see the friends
I expected to, but saw one I did not, who I last saw on the British
Universities team tour of Norway in 1987!
I bought a pair of polarised
sunglasses for driving, as there is often sunshine after heavy rain
here. They intensify the contrast of the light from the trees so
that the light greens become amazingly bright.
This afternoon a static shooting
test, which was a disaster. Fritz moved my handstop on Friday to
experiment with my habit of missing the first prone target low.
I had not recorded the position, and now cannot find it again...
Arrived early at the range
to do some stretching and dry firing. Blistering hot sun. By the
time we started shooting it had started to pour with rain, which
stopped shortly. I was walking back to my car afterwards, wondering
why everyone was running; I looked up and saw that a terrific cloudburst
was not half a mile from us. As I started to run, hailstones half
an inch across started rattling on the ground - I was waiting to
be knocked down and pulped...
The hail turned to rain, then
to sun, so cycled to Winklmoos to recce Wednesday's time trial.
Passed little piles of icy snow that had just fallen (it had been
30°C 2 hours before).On to Reit im Winkl, where again lightning
and thunder ripped between the mountain tops and it started to pour
again. After another 20 minutes, sunshine and rainbows. Why travel
when you can get the entire range of climatic conditions in a single
afternoon in Bavaria?
Test Week. Classic roller-ski
up to the Steinbergalm (20'); road bike from the biathlon centre
to the Winklmoosalm (40'); Roller-ski 18km around the biathlon centre
on the world's slowest skis (no wonder the Germans are tough); run
up the Rauschberg. Each physical test followed by a shooting test
- again something the Germans do far more than we do. I am generally
about 7th of 10 in the physical tests, which I am happy with, given
my poor state of training (a very quiet 1999/2000, and first 3 months
More spectacular storms, but
the weather has been kind enough to leave us in peace in the mornings
- cool and dry enough.
I find the short intense efforts
far less debilitating than the long roller-ski sessions we were
doing last week. Still, after time trials four days on the trot
a long weekend will be very welcome.
Roller-ski time trial:
on DMS roller-skis, which are horrendously slow; they also do not
grip well, and slip on any damp patches - such as the gloomy steep
hills on the gloomy Eastern part of the Ruhpolding track. The pair
I had was very reluctant to run straight until a brutal bashing
against a rock disciplined them.
I have a theory that the peculiarly
muscular ski style of many of the German biathletes is due to their
training with DMS rollers: because of the lack of grip, there is
a need to overemphasise the arms on the uphills, which must lead
to a different balance of power input from that acquired by training
on (for example) slow Marwes, which grip very well.
I was far from fastest - Ricco
Groß overtook me, just back from a snow training camp in Finland,
as did Andi Birnbacher, skiing strongly; Andi Stitzl appeared (judging
by how long after Ricco he passed me) to be going faster than Ricco,
and Michl Greis perhaps faster yet.
More static shooting tests:
this time a relay-type test - 4 magazines of 8 rounds, firing Prone/Stand/Prone/Stand
as fast as possible. I have lost the shooting form I had last week
when I thought I had made a real breakthrough; today I had real
trouble hitting the standing targets, despite a very good dry-firing
session last night.
Awoke this morning to
a terrific storm: thunder, lighting, torrential rain and wind. As
I drove to the biathlon centre it looked set for the day, and I
thought we had no chance of doing our run up the Rauschberg - if
nothing else, the cable car would not be working, so Fritz would
not be able to get up to take the times.
However, I got to the biathlon
centre and within a few minutes the sun was shining, so we started
The path up the Rauschberg
is almost unrelentingly steep, which requires somewhat different
characteristics from a normal run: chiefly a determination to continue
despite the discomfort. I had hoped that Joe would finally restore
pride for the Brits, with his track-running background; but no,
Andi Stitzl, who is probably 2 stone lighter, won by a distance.
At the back end the placings shifted around a few times, and I was
delighted to finish 7th of 10 in my first proper run since March.
Now 3 days off scheduled;
I will do some kind of training on Sunday as 3 seems a bit much.
Moreover Joe is doing some horrendous 24-hour bike relay race Saturday
and Sunday, so I have to do something in sympathy.
Dull weather all weekend so
nothing to do but get RSI at the computer. Went for a gentle roller-ski
today at the biathlon centre with Peter Moysey and Alan Eason and
Trish Ball, two Brit skiers who are staying with Peter for a couple
of weeks to do some training. Trying each other's skis for comparison.
My Marwes are very well-behaved on the downhills, and concentrate
one's attention on balance and foot/ankle conformation; but they
are much faster than the V2s which Peter and Alan have, which have
Got back and the g/f asked
to go out roller-skiing on the cycle path along the road. So we
went out for half an hour's skating, and I tried to roll over a
conker, which sent me flat on my face, landing on the right hip
and left hand that were already injured from 10 days ago: infuriating.
Fortunately going very slowly, so no broken skin, but every bump
contributes to acquiring injuries and wearing out the body . Bruises
also inhibit technique, especially on the shooting range.
So much for a relaxing weekend
Classic week last week:
starting at 2 hours and adding 15 min each day. Rain every day.
So depressing that I had to fly back to England to get away. It
is strange how the Bavarians say 'British weather ha ha' when it
rains, when in fact it probably rains 2 or 3 times as much in Bavaria
as it does in London.
Had an insight into the cause
of my knee problem. During the long classic roller-ski sessions,
I found that my knee was beginning to get sore. On thinking about
it, I finally twigged: I turn my hips strongly from side to side
with each stride (which is good technique: gives a longer, stronger
kick and better glide). However, when I turn my hips, my knee turns
inwards with it: the existing mechanical abnormality (which I am
trying to correct) is that when I bend my knee under load, it turns
So, I have to learn to keep
the knees pointing straight forward while turning the hips. This
is quite difficult: it is a subtle point, and therefore requires
intense concentration and constant monitoring. And when I concentrate
intently on one aspect of my skiing others tend to suffer (eg I
ride an edged ski or stick my bum out). More work.
A couple of days in
England. A visit to the Olympic Medical Centre to see a doctor about
my collection of injuries. He seemed convinced by my explanation
of the knee injury but was reluctant to cure it without an NMR scan...
He suggested that my knuckle
problem was almost certainly due to something rubbing over it. I
denied this but experimentation today showed that the strap of my
right classic pole does indeed shift to run over my right knuckle.
So a simple cure for that one.
As for my right wrist: this
is a classic from bending the wrist back, and will be rectified
by putting my fist down on the shooting mat rather than my palm.
And back to Bavaria, with
the climbing gear that I am trading for a road bike and all sorts
of other gear that I forgot when packing originally.
Today a leg speed session
of (running) sprints and drills, and a classic roller-ski session
at threshold, emphasising strength, this afternoon.
Spotted Ole-Einar Bjørndalen
on the roller-ski track this morning. What roller-skis was he using?
Marwe big wheels: my favourite, and also what Ricco Gross is using.
I have exchanged my wheels for the slowest Marwe does, so perhaps
mine will now be slow enough for Fritz.
Skate roller-ski combination
session at threshold: a great feeling of exhilaration after doing
a faster session like this.
When I fiirst arrived at Ruhpolding
I was very cautious on the big descent of the roller-ski track,
and would snowplough as long as I was able to sustain it. Now I
ski it in a tuck from the top, 8 times in a single training session.
I wonder whether this improved confidence will translate to snow.
Mixed roller-ski session for
strength this afternoon: alternating laps of double-poling and free-skating.
Some of the Germans are very strong at double-poling. I am getting
quite tired now: 4 demanding sessions in 2 days.
Roller-ski sprint session:
interesting, as the desperately slow wheels that we use do not grip
well, so tight corners are hair-raising. Fun - it is always fun
to go fast. And possibly helpful for my roller-ski races at the
Had a talk with Fritz, with
various points of interest arising:
- Difference between langlauf
and biathlon training: biathletes tend to train at higher intensity
(in order to learn to shoot under stress), and therefore cannot
sustain such high volumes as the langlaufers, who concentrate
on physiological optimisation (this would suggest that biathletes
should 'burn out' sooner, which does not appear to be the case)
- Tendency of biathletes
to concentrate too much on getting the right skis and waxes, and
leave the shooting to take care of itself
- In our test week, in the
'hill-climbs' on classic roller-skis, road bikes and foot, in
the middle of the results were Brooks, Pritchard and Stöckl,
in that order; in the skate roller-ski race, the order was reversed.
Stöckl is clearly stronger than me, and I somewhat stronger
than Joe; but Fritz says the difference in performance (relative
to the results in the other disciplines) is largely due to technique.
This confounds me, as I think endlessly about how to ski faster,
and cannot think of anything significant that I can do differently
in the movements; my balance could be improved, but is still better
than average - and I can stay on the balance beams more relaxed
than Stöckl or Brooks. Joe's skate technique also looks very
good to me. A mystery.
Weekend in London for the
International Masters Roller-Ski Race,
at the Lea Valley cycle circuit. Fly to London, train down to my
parents to pick up their car and some gear, back up to London to
visit my osteopath, and on to the Lea Valley.
The Lea Valley cycle circuit
is a one mile loop fitted into a small area, probably an old landfill
site. It has some tight turns and steep undulations, and is a wide
track with a good surface. The grounds are well landscaped and planted
with trees so that the course feels much bigger than it is - unlike
the similar circuit at Hayes, where you can see almost the entire
course from any point.
There were visiting teams
from Holland, Sweden and Russia: not as many as Adam Pinney, the
organiser, had hoped for, but enough for it to be legitimately called
an international event.
The first race was a mass-start
10km. When I put my racing roller-skis on I realised that the last
time I used them was September: they felt very wobbly.
We double-poled the first
50 yards, and I got clear of the gang into second. Slow for the
first very tight bend, then down a sharp descent; hard up the steep
ascent the other side, and I turned my ankle over, getting dropped
by a Dutchman and a Swede. I tried to catch them but they pulled
away, so I dropped back to ski with another Dutchman. The next lap
I did not slow down for the tight bend, and came off the track:
I thought I was certain to fall, but somehow managed to stay upright
through 20 yards on the rough, and got back onto the track to catch
up with my competitor.
Made a burst on the penultimate
lap, and finished 3rd: beaten by a 40-year old Dutchman and a 17-year
old Swede! (Although this is nominally a Masters race, all comers
are welcome; last year we had the Russian national under-14 champion!)
A meal at a pub in Mayfair,
to give our guests a taste of traditional British cuisine; unfortunately
the meal was the worst I have paid for for a very long time. More
research needed for next year.
30km race on Sunday: same
format, same results. I skied most of the race with the same Dutchman
as on Saturday, put in my burst on the 15th of 18 laps, took the
bend too fast and came off again, surviving but having lost the
lead I had just gained, so had to sprint hard again the next lap
to beat him.
Analysis: reasons why
I was thrashed by an old man and a boy with long hair.
- I was not sufficiently
accustomed to my race roller-skis, and was therefore insecure
and wobbly on them
- I failed to prepare myself
properly either physically or mentally for the 30km (largely because
I was talking to a journalist for quite a while before the start)
- I was not sufficiently
committed to staying with them from the start
- My leg strength/technique
were very inferior to the Dutchmen's (they have a speed-skating
background, and that technique is very effective on fast roller-skis,
especially on flats with a headwind such as we experienced)
- I had already had 5 days
of hard training that week
What I will do about it:
Rest day today, so catching up
with everything and recuperating. Will do a long dry-shooting session
and some stretching, which tend to get neglected when I am doing a
lot of formal training.
- Probably nothing, as roller-ski
racing is not important to me. Perhaps one or two brief sessions
on race roller-skis before a big race (eg if I do the World Champs
- Normal serious race prep
- As for 2
- Very little, as this is
again largely a roller-ski race-specific issue. I want to work
on leg strength anyway for my normal skiing, and this will have
some benefit for roller-skiing.
- Nothing: roller-ski races
are not important enough to interrupt training for.
'Natural intervals' yesterday
and this morning. Felt great yesterday, very tired this morning,
so had a regenerating snooze after lunch. Shooting goes up and down;
it takes great self-discipline to shoot fast and bear the risk of
missing. But one has to shoot fast and accept that risk to learn
to shoot fast and hit.
While in England I bought
a Sou'Wester hat; this morning it was pouring with rain so I wore
it while zeroing, to general amusement. The notion that Britain
is the wettest place in the World persists, but the hat was made
in Germany, so one-all.
Roller-ski sprints this afternoon:
a really exhilarating session - I love going fast. Fortunately the
track was dry while we were sprinting; while we were warming down
the skies opened and everyone ran for cover.
Parts of the Swiss, French
and Italian teams are here, so it is getting a bit crowded on the
range in the mornings.
Red-letter day: firstly it
has not rained yet today (at least, not since I got up at 6); secondly
I had a great training race.
This morning a mass-start
biathlon race, on matched roller-skis. Skiing well enough, and managed
to clear my first shoot in a good time; was amazed to clear my second
shoot as well. In the third I had a palpitation half-way through
and lost some time and missed the last two targets; I cleared the
last shoot quickly, and finished second of 8.
Now a week off: I am forbidden
to train formally or touch my rifle. What will I do? Tennis, kayaking,
first really sunny day for over 3 weeks. Played tennis for 2 hours
with the neighbour (on a clay court, which I have not used before:
great, as it makes for really long rallies). Then swam in one of the
smaller local lakes - still warm enough to swim at 7.30 in the evening.