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Johaug Breaks Other Hand in Livigno Running Fall
Although she has won hill climbs and had fun appearing on television shows like Top Gear, Therese Johaug has had some bad luck this training season. (Photo: Bymiljoetaten/Flickr)

Although she has won hill climbs and had fun appearing on television shows like Top Gear, Therese Johaug has had some bad luck this training season. (Photo: Bymiljøetaten/Flickr)

Therese Johaug’s summer of training woes continues: at a camp in Italy, the Norwegian cross-country skiing star took a fall while running downhill and broke her right hand.

Six weeks ago she fell while running in Seiser Alm, Italy, and broke her left hand. That break required surgery and kept her from competing in the Blink summer ski festival, where she typically is one of the best competitors in the Lysebotn Opp ski race.

She recently resumed rollerskiing with both poles, and competed at the Toppidrettsveka ski festival in northern Norway, where she won the uphill running race by a landslide and finished the weekend second overall to teammate Heidi Weng.

It appeared that Johaug was almost back on track, with the initial break representing a minimal training setback.

But when the Norwegian team headed to Livigno, Italy, this week for a rare joint training camp with the men and the women, bad luck hit again. This time it was her right hand.

“Therese was a bit unlucky on the tour today,” Norwegian national team coach Egil Kristiansen told NRK, the Norwegian broadcaster who had happened to be on site for filming and interviews. “[She] has been to radiology. The examination shows that there is a small fracture.”

As with the last incident, Kristiansen does not believe that it will take a major toll on Johaug’s preparations for the upcoming race season.

I do not think this will have serious consequences at all,” Kristiansen said. “She can run and get trained.”

But he emphasized that until a specialist came back with recommendations, nobody could be sure what the treatment time would be before Johaug could use both poles again.

Meanwhile, Aftenbladet reported that Johaug had been driven the three hours to Zürich and was flying home to Oslo. There, she will meet with a specialist to assess the damage and develop a recovery plan.

After the first break earlier this summer, Johaug had surgery which inserted screws into her finger. If the recovery time is similar, Kristiansen guessed that it would mean two weeks of alternative training.

“She had maximum bad luck,” said teammate Marit Bjørgen, who was in Livigno continuing to train with the team through her first pregnancy.

Maiken Caspersen Falla agreed, but said that if anything it might make Johaug even more fearsome come winter.

Although it sucks that it’s so close to season’s start, she will only become even more focused,” Falla told Aftenbladet.

Norjan hiihtotähden epäonni jatkuu: kaatui taas lenkillä ja sormi murtui
Norjalainen suurhiihtäjä Therese Johaug loukkasi kättään juoksulenkillä Livignossa Italiassa.
Soldier Hollow Seeking Assistant Coach

Team Soldier Hollow

Soldier Hollow is seeking an assistant coach for the upcoming fall/winter season. Team Soldier Hollow is a 150-skier club based out of the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic cross-country ski venue in Midway, Utah.  More information on our youth ski programs can be found at teamsoldierhollow.com

Primary responsibilities include: assisting with all practices, effectively communicating with athletes, parents, and coaches, traveling to local and regional races, assisting with waxing and other race day duties, driving Soldier Hollow vehicles.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Experience cross-country ski racing and/or coaching
  • Current, or ability to obtain, USSA coach membership
  • 22 years of age or older
  • Ability to drive Soldier Hollow vehicles
  • Available to work weekends during the winter season

The assistant coach position can be full or part time depending on qualifications and preference. Compensation is dependent upon experience.

For more information or to apply for the position please email resume to Morgan Smyth at morgan.smyth@soldierhollow.com.

For Better-Feeling Marathons, Try Taking More Feeds
Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) gets a feed on the high point of the course in the 20 k freestyle mass start at U.S. nationals at Soldier Hollow, Utah, last January.

Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) gets a feed on the high point of the course in the 20 k freestyle mass start at U.S. nationals at Soldier Hollow, Utah, last January.

What’s the best strategy for feeds in a ski marathon? How many carbohydrates do you need, and how often?

That’s the question asked by a team of researchers from Mid Sweden University in Östersund and the University of Bath in Great Britain. With a group of experienced, but not elite, adult ski racers, they investigated high and low carbohydrate feeds delivered at high or low frequency over the course of several 30 k rollerski time trials on a treadmill.

The results were recently published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science and Sports. While the skiers did not perform differently under the various feeding regimes, a number of physiological variables did change.

“The take-away message I would give to athletes, from this study, is to understand how nutrition can affect metabolism,” lead author Ben Stocks wrote in an email. “There are certain metabolic things we want to see during endurance exercise… One of those is maintenance of normal blood sugar levels and this study would suggest that, on average, drinking smaller volumes of carbohydrate more regularly is beneficial in that regard. Additionally, the little and often approach appears to cause less discomfort than the larger drinks taken less often.”

The feeds were calculated to provide particular rates of carbohydrates per minute, with amounts calibrated to each athlete based on how long they took to ski between the set distances where feeds were delivered.

Jakov Fak of Slovenia fueling up en route to a World Championship title in the 20 k individual at 2012 World Championships in Ruhpolding, Germany.

Jakov Fak of Slovenia fueling up en route to a World Championship title in the 20 k individual at 2012 World Championships in Ruhpolding, Germany.

The high carbohydrate treatment delivered about double the rate of the low carbohydrate treatment. In the low frequency treatment only two feeds were given, while six were given in the high frequency treatment. This required also adjusting the amount in each feed, so that in the high frequency treatment athletes only received a third as much carbohydrate per bout.

The treadmill was slowed for the feeds as well as blood sampling, somewhat mimicking a downhill on the racecourse (although of course treadmills can’t go downhill). Each athlete did four time trials, one for each feeding regime, in a randomized order with at least four days in between.

The researchers found that with only two feeds, athletes could not maintain a normal, steady blood sugar level.

“This is important because glucose is transported from the blood into the muscles and forms a critical fuel during exercise performance,” Stocks wrote in his email. “We know from studies in other sports, such as cycling, that a reduction in blood sugar levels is related to the onset of fatigue and, therefore, an inability to continue exercising at the same intensity. Maintaining blood sugar levels is therefore a crucial strategy to maximising performance in endurance sports.”

Feeds aren't just important for naitonal and world champions! Kids hand out drinks on the  Marcialonga trail in Italy.

Feeds aren’t just important for naitonal and world champions! Kids hand out drinks on the Marcialonga trail in Italy.

They also found that athletes experienced greater gastrointestinal discomfort when consuming a lot of carbohydrates but only infrequently.

However, performance did not improve under any particular feeding regime. Instead, times to complete the 30 k test improved with each successive time trial, no matter what order the treatments were completed.

“Increased gastrointestinal discomfort is not going to improve performance and, anecdotally, will negatively affect performance in some individuals,” Stocks wrote. “Therefore, in the absence of any obvious performance effects, increased gastrointestinal discomfort and poorer maintenance of blood sugar levels suggest to us that low frequency carbohydrate drinking should not be a recommended strategy.”

As for the amount of carbohydrate delivered, there didn’t appear to be major differences between high-carb and low-carb feeding treatments when both were delivered six times over the course of the time trial. Frequency seemed to be more important than amount.

One suggestion in the paper was that after a baseline carbohydrate ingestion rate of 1 to 1.3 grams per minute, adding more and more carbs doesn’t give much benefit, at least over the 30 k distance. In a longer race, that may change as the body would be forced to dip into and deplete glycogen stores.

While the results seem to be clearcut that frequent feeds provide for a better race experience, if not necessarily better performance, Stocks cautioned that the real takeaway message was to get to know your body.

“It is important to stress that every individual responds differently to these things and that it is important to work out for yourself how different nutritional approaches affect you,” he wrote. “While it may be difficult to measure blood glucose without visiting a specialist sports science centre, your feelings of gastrointestinal discomfort are easy monitor, as is your performance and that is the ultimate goal. Get to know what works best for you.”

Wednesday Workout: Steady State Intervals and Speed Shifts with SVSEF PG Coach Tom Smith
SVSEF Gold Team member Miles Havlick rounds a cone during an interval. (Photo: Tom Smith)

SVSEF Gold Team member Miles Havlick rounds a cone during an interval. (Photo: Tom Smith)

For this week’s Wednesday Workout, FasterSkier spoke with Tom Smith, the head coach of the post-graduate elite development program for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF). On top of coaching full-year post graduates (PGs) in Sun Valley, Idaho, Smith works with college athletes who come there to train during the summer. Smith is originally from Bend, Ore., and skied for the University of Utah before heading to Sun Valley a few years ago.

The workout Smith presented is a highly customizable steady state threshold workout with accelerations he likes to call “speed shifts.” Speed shifts are similar to pickups in that the speed and effort increase for a short period of time. However, for speed shifts, the change is minor compared to pickups, where speed and effect usually change drastically, going from low effort to race pace or even max effort.

“I like to think of it as not an all-out sprint in the middle of L3 [Level 3] intensity, but like a shift in your tempo or power and that you’re testing your competitors and testing your own limits of your lactate threshold,” Smith explained.

As a quick reminder, threshold effort or Level 3 is the pace at which lactic acid is being cleared from muscles at the same rate it is being produced. The general feeling at this effort is fast but in control and at a pace that can be maintained for an hour or two.

Head PG Coach Tom Smith with a bunch of SVSEF athletes in the background. (photo: Tom Smith)

SVSEF post-grad head coach Tom Smith takes a selfie with several SVSEF athletes in the background. (Photo: Tom Smith)

This steady state workout entails going at a consistent threshold effort for 30 to 45 minutes while doing 20-second speed shifts every three to five minutes to push the effort into the upper limits of L3.

Smith leads this workout on rollerskis, though it can be done in any discipline. It’s also very customizable. Depending on the time of year, the focus can be on ensuring that the threshold effort is not exceeded or intentionally going beyond L3 during the speed shifts to work on recovering from an anaerobic effort while continuing to ski at threshold. The total interval time and frequency of the speed shifts can also be changed to make the entire workout easier or harder, depending on what the participant is looking for.

A large component of the workout also comes from the day before. Smith plans a technique-focused, low-effort workout in the same discipline that the continuous threshold workout is going to be in. So if Smith’s athletes will be skating during the continuous threshold workout, they go for an easy skate distance workout the day before while Smith takes a bunch of video. Then they all review the video and each pick out one specific aspect of their technique to work on and come up with a concrete way they can improve it. That night or even the following morning, Smith’s athletes again look at the video to review their technique and really understand what they need to be doing to improve during the threshold workout. This allows the athletes to work on their technique during the interval while simultaneously focusing on a quality effort.

“By accomplishing [technique work] in the session beforehand, the athlete already has that goal in mind of what they want to work on and they know how they are going to actually go about improving it,” Smith said. “You don’t really have to harp on it too much within the intensity session itself as a coach.”

SVSEF Gold Team member Rogan Brown leads Bates College skier Corky Harrer on a classic ski. (photo: Tom Smith)

SVSEF Gold Team member Rogan Brown leads Bates College skier Corky Harrer on a classic ski. (Photo: Tom Smith)

This also gives Smith the opportunity to focus on his athlete’s efforts during the L3 interval. The SVSEF post grads do this workout on a fixed loop, setting up speed shifts on various terrain so they feel what it is like to push the effort during different techniques and at different speeds. It also helps them feel how easy or hard it is to recover from different efforts on the various terrain.

Smith then goes to a location about a minute after a speed shift to test the athletes’ lactate levels. What he hopes to see is their lactate levels around 4 millimoles, which means they are going at a threshold effort and have effectively pushed to the limits of L3 and recovered.

If possible, Smith also wants his athletes to ski in a pack. This gives them an opportunity to practice some mass-start tactics and see how effective an added effort is or is not on various terrain.

“We can put one speed shift on a V2 focused slight up grade, we can put one on a V1 section, we can put one on maybe a tuck-skate downhill section, so it gives you a few different things to think about [and shows], especially in a mass start simulated environment, that there are different opportunities and different places around a course to put in a little bit of an attack,” Smith explained.

Ultimately, he hopes his athletes come away from this workout with technique improvements and a better understanding of and feeling for their L3 zone.

“I think it’s a really good session for the older guys, especially as they transition from older juniors into seniors to really understand where their limits are within their lactate threshold zone and how hard they can really push it before they actually blow themselves up,” he said.

The Workout

The day before:

– On the day before the steady state interval workout, work on technique and find one specific area to focus on for the next day. Having video is really helpful for picking out a major technique area that can be improved!

The day of:

– Warm up for 20 to 30 minutes to prepare the body for a threshold effort.

– Begin the continuous threshold interval. Keep in mind the effort continues for 30 to 45 minutes, so it is best to start at the lower end of L3.

– Every three to five minutes, do a 20 second speed shift. Try and focus specifically on adding a little extra power or slightly increasing tempo. This helps to ensure the effort does not go beyond the L3 limit. Also try and change up the terrain where the speed shifts happen to get plenty of variety in the workout.

– Remember after each speed shift, the effort should remain in L3 and it should drop to the lower end of L3 before the next speed shift brings the effort back up.

– After finishing the steady state interval, warm down for 15 to 30 minutes to wrap up the workout.

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