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It's All About Technique

2007 Training Diary

Sat, Aug  19, 2006 - By Mike Muha

"Going forward, it's time to get more organized. I need to focus on quality sessions (intervals and time trials) as the number one priority, then fill in with distance and strength sessions. I also need to do more upper body sessions (think doublepole), which will pay dividends in both classic and skate races. I think Sten's camp will get me psyched and ready to add focus to my training."

That was my resolution back in June. For the most part, I've kept that resolution, with some adaptations.

Technique, technique, technique...

I have picked up on the quality sessions, including three time trials and numerous intervals sessions, but probably not as many as I originally planned. Why? Sten and Jen and Steve and Hugh. From the video analysis of my rollerskiing from's Sten Fjeldheim and Jenny Ryan Training Camp at the end of June, I realized my technique still had ample opportunity for improvement. Before I got too heavy into intervals, I needed to adjust my skating technique.

Steve Kuhl and I went on several post-camp rollerski sessions, comparing camp notes, discussing how awkward it felt trying to update our technique, and critically evaluating each other's skiing. A real breakthrough came through when Steve, Hugh Pritchard and I went out for a distance ski. I tried to imitating their technique. Skiing behind Hugh, I noticed something extraordinary: although our timing appeared to be nearly identical in V2, he clearly poled longer on one ski before skating to the other skis. I shifted my weight to the other ski far earlier.

I tried to imitate Hugh's technique for the next week. It felt weird, and my upper body felt like it got much more of a workout. No wonder: I was essentially doublepoling then skating, over and over in secession. Under my old style, the doublepole and skate movements were nearly simultaneously. I think this was inefficient: there were too many moving parts. As my hips moved over, my doublepole motion lost momentum.

So, did this make a difference in how fast I can ski? Well, I took nearly two minutes off my 5.25+ mile time trial time between mid July and mid August. Sure, part of that was due to better conditioning, but I believe improvements in technique played the larger role.

Technique does matter.

Hips Forward

So I'm getting better at V2 (and V2 Alternate) timing. This month, I'm working on getting my hips forward. The key is bending at the ankle, not the waist. While skating, I'm learning to land on a bent ankle. The steeper the incline, the greater the bend.

If I get my hips forward, I get the impression that I'm falling forward. To stop myself from face planting, I have to plant my poles instantly after they come forward.

During distance skiing, to keep my tempo down and my heart rate low, I noticed I pause my poling just for an instant after my poles came forward and before I planted them. I just realized that I've been training with poor technique. If my hips were forward, however, I wouldn't be able to pause like that - I'd fall!

So I'm trying for that distinct feeling of falling forward, and getting my poles forward and planted fast enough to prevent the fall from happening. It's a bit scary on rollerskis on hard pavement...

The Job Front

Still no job. There was a dearth of positions on the market the beginning of the summer. As August rolled around, a number of very interesting positions opened and I've been through multiple interviews for several of them. Hopefully I'll be gainfully employed again by September.


2006-2007 Training Diaries