Tapering and training for the end of the seasons races

I never knew about the concept of tapering, training volume, and intensity in my youth.  That is why I was burned out at 19 and was not able to compete at the level that I trained for.  My concept back then was the person who trained the hardest would win.  Putting all you have into training hard, all the way up to the competition.  You can be so fatigued that your technique suffers, muscles are so worn out that it is hard to skate well at all.  My legs ached everyday for 18 months after retiring at age 19, they were screaming for recovery and rest.  I have learned what the concept of tapering is and how to use it.  One thing that is essential is planning for the major competitions.  In the beginning of the training season I will plan out my goals relative to my major competitions for the year.  I may have 3-4 major events in a year that are important.  I compete at other times but they do not have the importance and subsequently do not have the impact on my training.

Using my ithlete everyday gives me feedback to fine tune my workouts and more.  Getting an indication right away in the morning of how rested I am is very important.  My HRV number validates my training and tapering to help me achieve maximum performance.  It helps me understand all the factors that affect me.  Training, resting, stress, and numerous other factors make a difference in my rested state and as a result my health and athletic achievements.

In the start of the training season I will start off slowly, and increase slowly.  I will ease back into training by increasing my volume and intensity slowly.  It is better to increase too slowly than to go too fast and get hurt or burned out.  At the peak of my training season I may  be doing a great deal of volume and with high intensity.  I have been doing this for years and it has taken a long time of slow progress to get to this point.

Taking into account my major events of the year I make a plan on tapering back my workouts.  The idea here is to put the body under a load during hard training, then approaching the competition, back off the volume but keeping up the intensity.  This way the body can recover and be at its peak for the event.  The time allotted for the taper will vary with many factors.  The biggest factor will be how long was I working hard.  If I had been working hard and building for several months, then a taper of 3 weeks might be necessary.  It is also important to keep up the intensity.  Between major events in a season I will vary what I am doing.  First, I must rest after a competition.  It is probably harder on me physically and emotionally than I am willing to admit.  I take an easy week to regroup.  If I have a lot of time between events I can load up again.  If my time is short, then only a short time for loading up again will work.  The length of the reloading then determines the next taper.  If I can only reload for a couple of weeks then I may need only 1 week of taper.  My age is a variable as well. I find that I do not recover as well as the younger skaters.  I need a little longer to recover and so my taper should be a little longer.  As we age, you realize that you can keep up with the younger skaters as long as you take a longer rest.

The whole idea of tapering for a major competition is that I should approach the starting line feeling totally rested and ready to go.  That is when I race my fastest.  There is a great deal of science behind all of this.  This has been my experience and it obviously works for me.

Looking forward to racing this weekend March 1st-3rd in Salt Lake in the American Cup Finale and North American Championships.

Photo by Steve Penland

Photo by Steve Penland

Mental And Emotional Support

Over time I have built a network of support.  Part of my network is for my mental and emotional health.  I operate on many different levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  I need to tend to my mental health just as I would my physical health.

Everything starts with a thought.  If I stay isolated with my own thoughts, and not sharing what is deep down, what is going on in my mind, I will develop some very sick thinking.  I need to get those thoughts out into the light of day.  I need to see them in a mirror.  Then I can start to heal.  When I start sharing my deepest thoughts with someone I trust, I start getting better.  I start the healing process by seeing and then changing the way I think.  By changing my thought process I can affect all areas of my life.

I am not alone.  I cannot get better by myself.  I need some outside influence.  It is important for me to realize that I have other people in my life that share my path.  I can say that I share a path with people who are my same age and background.  I can find someone who shares a path with me in many areas of my life.  I grew up as a self-reliant person.  I felt that I needed to do things myself and with little help from those around me.  This concept helped me to forge my own way, be accountable and responsible to myself.  My self-esteem was built upon my own free will and was reflected by my accomplishments.  I believe that this made me unique to the world.  It is true that there is no one exactly like me.  I have learned that if I look for those differences then the world is a very cold and lonely place.  If I look for the similarities, then the world is an inviting, open, and all-inclusive place that I can find help and support.  I used to think that asking for help made me weak.  I know now that great men of courage ask for help.  I have a humility now that helps me find my rightful place in the universe.  I am but a small part, not the center.  I can realize that I am not alone in my journey.  I can find help and support in any part of my life.  I can find the similarities in so many areas of my life if I look for them.

I find people to share with, in many walks of my life. These are my “peer groups”.  I can separate my life into many meaningful areas and I can seek out groups that can help me find solutions to my problems.  It is not possible to find one person that can support me in all areas of my life.  I need to seek out many different support groups or people to support the many areas of my life.  By being honest about my problems I can seek solutions from people who have had similar issues.  They may be just a little farther along the road than I am.  I do not need to reinvent the wheel everyday by myself.  I can tap into great resources this way.  I believe that based on my education and background that my possible solutions to any problem are finite.  If I tap into a group, then my choices can have much greater base for possibilities for solutions.  I believe that God can speak to me in a number of ways.  One way is through other people.  Another way is through inspiration.  If I am open to it, solutions can come to me this way.  Tapping into peer groups, or other people that have similar issues can have some profound effects on my ability to help me along my path of learning and growth.  Sometimes even the innocence of a child can provide me with help, if I choose to see it.  I never know what can happen sometimes so I try to be open to all sources of inspiration for help with my mental state of health and well-being.

The important part of this equation is to be as honest with myself as possible.  The great news is that there is no limit to good mental and emotional health.  The product of my mental health is physical, emotional and spiritual.  I am happier, more accepting, peaceful and serene if I work at it.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  I take that first step everyday and enjoy my walk.

Longs Peak Colrado

Longs Peak Colrado


I have heard that the chinese symbol for courage is two parts.  The first part is the sign for danger, the second part is opportunity.  I love that idea.  I like the idea that if I am faced with danger I have a choice.  I can choose what I do with the danger.  I can run from it and sometimes that is the smart choice. Or I can face it and it will transform me with an opportunity for growth.  I am honored that you have come this far to find answers to your questions within.  Another definition that I heard for courage is fear that has said its prayers.  I trust now that things will turn out the way they are supposed to.  That gives me courage to go forward in a conscious way and have the attitude that the results will be just like the are supposed to be.  I am confident that I will always do the best that I can.  I am not a quitter.  This attitude will yield the best results, always.  They may not be what I was hoping for, but they are perfect just the same.  This gives me the courage I need to keep moving forward.  Stress and challenge, mixed with some courage, will usually tell me what I am really made of.  My father gave me a book recently.  It talks about three kinds of people.  Faced with a hill up ahead, people react in one of three ways.  There are the climbers, the campers, and the quitters.  I am a climber.  In fact, after I get to the top of the hill, I am looking for another hill to climb.  Then there are the campers.  These are people that climb so far and say that the view up here is good enough and they camp on the side of the hill.  Then there are the quitters.  They cannot seem to climb very far and just turn around and do not climb.  Which are you?  I believe we all have choices and that we can choose to be a climber if we want to and it is a learned activity.  I just have to make sure that I look up and enjoy the view sometimes.  I love to climb so much sometimes I forget to look around at the beautiful view. It takes courage to climb but the rewards are pretty cool.

Chinese Symbol for Courage

Taking a new approach

Last time I had some good racing I was so pumped I went overboard.  My first 500 meter race of the season was 39.99.  I knew I was setting myself up for a great year.  My summer work was validated.  I trained really hard after those first two races and ended up digging the hole of overtraining.  It took about 6 weeks to recover.  I learned from my mistake.  I relished my achievement this time.  I took it easy for a couple of days.  Racing takes more out of me than I am willing to recognize. Then I started back a little easier.  It takes a little longer to recover at my age.

Getting better and going faster is more about intention and choices than age.

Getting better can apply to anything in my life.  Intention sets my direction and choices help me with setting short, medium, and long range goals.

I have posted a video taken by my very supportive and cheering (she requests you turn the volume down) wife Maripat of my 39.00 500 meter race 1/26/2013. My pair was nathan Miller.  For a description of the race see my last post “Qualified!”.