Thursday, 7 March 2013

Does this really look like someone capable of skiing from Russia to Sweden across Finnish Lapland in one week?

Below is a video of me just before I set off for Russia and then Finland.  I managed to fit in a sneaky last minute classic xc ski lesson in Studen.  I figured I needed all the help I could get for the Border to Border tour.  I was looking for tips on making my technique more efficient.

The video above is the "after" video.  The "before" video was much worse.  I was using far too much upper body and not enough legs, which explains why I had been aching so much after the last time I tried classic xc ski in Studen (especially my triceps), but also right at the top of my quadriceps.

I managed to learn a lot in the 1 hour lesson, but as you can see from the clip I still lack some basic balance.  I am not at all comfortable standing on only one ski.  That would require hours of practise to perfect.  Also the teacher picked up on the fact that my left leg does not want to lift up properly like the right one does.  That may be an artifact of having injured the left calf muscle a month or so earlier, and being wary to use it as much as the right one.

In all seriousness I came out to Finland not expecting to be able to cover every kilometre of the Border to Border route.  I was not able to do much training at all (due to my partially torn calf muscle), and I a complete xc ski newbie.  In my life I have probably done classic style xc skiing only 3 times.  In an ideal world I would like to have at least fitted in 5 or so practise weekends in Switzerland, including a couple more lessons.  Then on top of that I would have done lots of running to get a really solid basic fitness.  All I was able to do was swimming and that uses different muscles. Running is much closer to classic xc skiing in terms of the muscles used.

Today was the first day and I was the slowest of the group.  I didn't manage to do the full distance, but I still managed to cover around 40km, which is the largest distance I have ever xc skied in my life.  That took me around 6 hours though, which is rather slow progress.  I have no hope in hell of completeting the longest day, as I would be coming in after midnight or so.  People talk about classic xc skiing technique being composed of "kick" and "glide", but in my case it was more kick than glide. 

I considered two tour strategies today.  The first was to try and cover every km, and risk further injury in the process, as well as not enjoying the tour due to the fact that it is beyond my current physical capabilities.  The second was to consider something more sensible, like covering half the total distance and enjoying the tour and the scenery along the way.  The second option also gives me a chance to focus on improving my technique, something that is hard to do when you are physically and mentally exhausted.

For once I have taken the most sensible option.  I am aching a little bit now, but skipping the last 20km today saved me a lot more aching, and meant that I can enjoy tomorrow much more.  I will let you know how the rest of the tour goes in a later post.  My plan for tomorrow is to cover 30km of the total 60km.