May 1 is the inaugural start of the training year for XC skiers, but this definition is a bit loose. This year the SLUSKI training plan begins on May 6.
I think we've stepped it up this year in terms of preparation and personal training direction. In our meetings with athletes Ethan and I have gone over individual plans, goals and ideas, and everyone has been handed their ITP (Individual Training Plan). The ITP is a completely personalized document with season reviews, next years many and varied goals, suggested workouts to get there, a key workout(s) that should be a summer focus, and additional attached articles, stories, workouts or quotes. Also included is the bread-and-butter of the training plan, the good ol' chart of numbers. Hours, minutes, intensity and endurance all laid out in decimal-point specificity.
Snapshot of the 2013/14 Summer Training Log. This document has tabulated weeks and automatically calculates multiple month totals, as well as overall totals. Not to mention graphing it all. For all the time I spent watching YouTube videos on Excel formulas, it better get used!
I even decided that we should dip into our massive team budgetary reserves to spend the 49 cents per-ITP to get a plastic cover sheet. We are serious about this thing! But seriously...we are serious about it. The summer training of a skier is what makes results happen. If a year of training is a jigsaw puzzle, the work put in over the summer would be the corner and edge pieces; they're what you dig around for first, and they're what you use to frame the whole rest of the puzzle.
The other reason I am so adamant about outlining and making people excited for summer training is because it is such an integral part of the process of ski racing. You can train like a robot and show up in the fall and do the work to ski fast, but I'm a firm believer that if you don't enjoy and respect the process, you will never be a complete skier. What is the process? It's organizing a training camp, even if it's 3 days long and involves sleeping in a tent, because you know that's what the National Team is doing that week. What's more, having that training camp, even though you know you'll never actually be on the National Team, is loving and respecting the process.
The process is tying a rope to your friend and pulling them on your rollerskis just because Simi Hamilton mentioned it once in the middle of a paragraph of a Fasterskier article (My friend John Dixon knows what I'm talking about).
It's about being immersed in and enjoying every aspect of the sport at every level, and that's something I hope to impart on our athletes. If they routinely refer to their ITPs and are motivated to train and enjoy the process, that is more than I could ask for. If the ITP booklet spends the entire summer sitting in the dust under the bed...well, at least it has a protective cover...