Monday, July 20, 2009

An Open Letter to Cyclists (and runners)

Dear Cyclists:

You smell bad. Cycling and running shorts are uniquely positioned among clothing in their ability to take on an unpleasant odour within 37 seconds of being on your person. The implication of this is that if you get lazy and decide to two-jack your shorts and wear them out for a second workout, an article of clothing that normally does not smell good actually becomes toxic and requires a WHMIS label.

This is an easy rule to remember: it does not matter how long you wore your shorts for the first time (three minutes or three hours - it does not matter), they need to be washed before you wear them again. This is not negotiable.

Further, bicycles are uniquely positioned in their ability to travel over pavement at incredibly high speeds in near silence. The implication of this is that if you are approaching someone from behind and your bike is well tuned (your bike is well tuned, right?) they cannot hear you coming.

This is also an easy rule to remember: get a bell, sing a song, just do something to let people in front of you know that you are coming well in advance.

PS --> runners, the above rules apply equally to you. Wash your shorts and let cyclists know when you are passing.

That feels better. Thank you for your attention.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thoughts on Strength Training

  • Most skiers have enough muscle mass in those muscles that are used in cross country skiing
    • Some female, junior, and a few male skiers (Patrick) may need to increase muscle mass and maximal strength, especially in their upper body


General Guidelines:


  • Focus on prime movers
    • Prime movers are the big muscled groups that do most of the work
  • Prevent muscle imbalances
    • Often injuries from strength training are the direct result of developing muscle imbalances
  • Use multi-joint exercises whenever possible
    • Such exercises more closely simulate the dynamic movement patterns of sport and also limit time in the gym
  • Mimic the positions and movements of the sport
    • For example when doing pull-ups the hands should be the same width as they would be when poling
  • Include core
    • The forces applied through your arms and legs must pass through your core. If this area is weak much of the force is lost. A strong core keeps the pelvis in a neutral positions (hips high and forward). If the core fatigues or is weak, the front of the pelcis sags and the butt protrudes shortening stride length.
  • Keep the number of exercises low
    • In order to concentrate on improving specific movements focus on those exercises that will provide the greatest gain for the least time invested
  • Periodize strength training
    • Different phases of strength training should have different goals
    • Loads should be increased ~5% every four or five workouts


  1. Anatomical adaptation (4 weeks, 2 sessions per week)
    1. Initial phase to prepare the muscles for greater loads
    2. Load – 40-60%
    3. 20 reps
    4. 3 sets
    5. 2 minutes recovery between sets

Potential program:

  1. Leg Press -
  2. Pull- up -
  3. Pistol squat
  4. Barbell bench -
  5. Seated row -
  6. Triceps dip -
  7. Bicep cur –
  8. Shoulder press -


Monday, July 6, 2009

Good Riddance?

More like time of your life.

Green Day is still my favourite band. Without question.

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Friday, July 3, 2009

Update re Ski Speed

Re #7 posted yesterday:

Despite what many people think, a 5% change in ski speed (ie better glide, which would be imperceptible by most people) could save up to a full minute over 10km. Test those top coats!

Actually, a 0.5% difference is almost always highly significant (statistically speaking) in good speed trap data, and can be detected by "feel" by just about any test pilot. A 0.2 - 0.3% difference is generally detectable, but not with high confidence by the pilot. A 5% difference is massive. Bigger than anything I've ever measured. The amazing thing is that a 0.5% which "should" only equate to 8-10 seconds in a 10K can make a minute difference. Average speed is carried speed and advantages compound over the length of the course. Ski speed is paradoxically cool.

- Zach

I love this stuff. Bottom line.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's Been a While

Admittedly, it's been quite a while since I've posted anything. Luckily it's summer time and there hasn't been much to report.

Here is a selection of what I've been thinking about:

1. Madeleine has joined the Alberta World Cup Academy for the 2009 - 2010 season. I've joined up too as part of the service team along with Mike Mappin and Jonathan Lamothe.

2. The Fischer f-series classic skis for this coming season are maybe the best ever produced.

3. Skiing performance ultimately depends on two things: 1) The ability to ski fast - neuromuscular input, muscle recruitment, maximum oxygen uptake, skiing technique and economy, aerobic and anaerobic energy production 2) The ability to resist fatigue - sustained neuromuscular recruitment, fractional utilization of MVO2, glycogen stores, and utilization of fats.

4. Skiers probably have enough muscle mass and maximal force strength but they may have limitations in fast force production and in the ability to keep up force production throughout the duration of a ski race. This means skiers should emphasize sport-specific, exploisve type strenth, spring, and muscular endurance training. Studies show that concurrent strength and endurance training can be used to improve force-velocity characteristics and fatigue resistance without decreasing aerobic performance.

5. In uphill skating poling contributes more than half of the propulsive force.

6. Force applied to the ski by the foot should be perpendicular to the ski surface. Pushing backward will only serve to decrease the ski's glide speed and will not increase propulsive force applied to the skier.

7. Despite what many people think, a 5% change in ski speed (ie better glide, which would be imperceptible by most people) could save up to a full minute over 10km. Test those top coats!

8. Little metabolic and velocity difference has been found between the three skating techniques - with the exception of uphills. Basically, it doesn't matter which technique you choose until the grade is in excess of +6%. At that point offset becomes faster.

9. Specificity of training means that only those characteristics in only those muscles, tissues, and organs that are overloaded/stressed during training will be improved. All that bike racing you're doing this summer? It's not going to make you a faster skier.

10. Skiing specific muscles must be used when training for improving fractional utilization of MVO2. Whole body MVO2 training requires that great muscle mass is activated; optimal summer training modes are ski-specific including ski-walking/ski-striding and rollerskiing.

11. Research indicates that consuming sport drink has a performance enhancing effect during prolonged (>60 minutes) of exercise. The same studies also indicate that it doesn't make a bit of difference which sport drink you consume. They all work equally well and the most important thing is to find one that is palatable.

12. We made some final grind decisions on Madeleine's skis today.

13. It's only July and I'm already super excited for the season. I think I may have a condition.

14. There may only be five or six people that can actually understand most of the things that come out of Zach Caldwell’s mouth when he’s waxing poetic on ski polemic. I'm working very hard to be one of those five or six people... frighteningly, sometimes with success.