I am a retired mediocre scientist (Ph.D. Solid State Physics), former competitive road cyclist, mountain biker, Nordic skier, and tennis player. As of this writing I am well into my 64th year. About eight years ago I rekindled my love of training and began a program to re-establish a training base with the intention of working towards a structured, focused training regimen and possibly some racing. After 30 years of no more than about 300 hours of training a year, I have now returned to the 700+ hour volume. It feels great to be able to do this again and I look forward to continuing this level of training as long as my body holds out.
As an avid competitive Nordic skier, and living in one the best places in the world1 to participate in this sport (Sun Valley, ID), my off-season training has centered around Nordic skiing-specific activities such as roller skiing, trail running, hill-bounding, specific strength, and some mountain biking. In the process of increasing my training volume, I derive significant enjoyment from mountain running, which is in part due, again, to where I live2. Mountain running is now my off-season base activity and has led me to longer runs with substantial vertical. As a category 1 road cyclist and expert/professional mountain biker I was a climbing specialist and this ability maps quite well to mountain running, particularly to long runs with long climbs. Having produced a substantial training base, I am now training for and competing in mountain trail and ultra marathon mountain trail running races and find the challenge to be quite enjoyable.
This blog is intended to be a depository for thoughts about training for endurance excellence and competition in the sports of mountain trail running and Nordic skiing.
As a scientist I tend toward the utilization of data and analysis, when appropriate, to formulate positions on specific subjects. It is likely that such analysis will appear in this blog from time to time for discussion and at other times for no other reason than as a place to collect such. Some analyses will be embryonic and in need of refinement that will occur over time. The overarching intention is to provide a data-based perspective on a given issue. Such perspectives may conflict with conventional thought. However, resolution of the stasis between the two (or many-multiple, as the case may be) will lead to a greater understanding of the issue and therefore to an enhanced thought platform for further ruminations.
About the title of this blog: It’s all about the vertical; it is my experience in mountain endurance races (that therefore involve the natural corrugations of the earth’s surface), that the climbing portions of such races often form the complexion of the race (i.e. produce a lead pack or lone leader) and that the downhills can often determine the winner (in some cases the opposite prevails: the downhills form the complexion and the climbing determines the winner). Given this premise, it seems clear that in training for such events the vertical aspects are critical, therefore: “It’s all about the vertical”.
- Sun Valley, ID is a preeminent center for Nordic skiing with over 200 km of ski trails groomed daily and a continuous ski season from late November to mid-April. Many US Ski Team members and current and former Nordic Olympians live in the area and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) produces a fair share of the top junior and elite Nordic athletes. The ever-dominant Norwegian Olympic Nordic team chose Sun Valley as their pre-Olympic training centers for the 2002 (Salt Lake) and 2010 (Vancouver) Olympics.
- Sun Valley, ID sits at the base of numerous mountain ranges (the Pioneers, the Boulders, the White Clouds, the Smokeys, and the Sawtooths) and offers virtually limitless high quality single-track mountain running directly from your door.