Monday, 22 July 2013


According to the Oxford Dictionaries online, the definition of volume most relevant to my usage of it in this blog is "an amount or quantity of something, especially when great". When it comes to training, volume (i.e. zone1 training) is great for a number of reasons. Volume is great because--if you are training properly--it will make up the majority of your training hours, a great, a vast, amount! Volume is great because it will always guarantee a certain amount of improvement: as my coach says: "you could complete only volume training all year long and, when the snow flies, you would still be a bit faster than last season". Volume is great because volume workouts are so much fun!!

Hangin' out at the top of the access road to Norquay after a 4hr rollerski. From left to right: Yannick, 2 Alberta Ski Team guys, Seb, me, more AST guys.
View from Norquay: that's Banff down there.
I mean, in a volume workout you could cruise along through pristine boreal forest, letting your mind wander as you fall into the steady rhythm of diagonal stride or one skate. In a volume workout you could scramble along fallen logs, over boulders and up scree slopes on your way to summiting a mountain pass--a ribbon of singletrack winding its way up, up, up through the alpine vistas. In a volume workout you could lose yourself (quite literally) in dense pine forest when the trail you were supposed to be following turns out to be less of a trail than you had expected. Add some variety and you can make every volume workout a new adventure!
For me, volume has been the theme these last two weeks; I even happened to experience each of the three scenarios that I detailed in the last paragraph!

Now, with so much volume to cover it would be hard for me to give a synopses of all of it, so instead I’ll detail just one workout, debatably the funnest workout, that we did right in the middle of the two week block. Turn the clock back exactly one week...

Monday July 15th. Wake up at 7:35am. At 8:20am I have eaten my daily oatmeal packed some apr├Ęs-training clothes and some snacks, laced up my Speedcross 3s and I’m out the door. The meeting place today is the boat docks (there are actually no boat docks at the boat docks, interestingly enough). Hop in the van at the boat docks and it’s off to a “surprise” destination for training today! I like surprises. ETA to the surprise? 30min. We arrive at the trailhead locked and loaded; turns out the surprise destination today is Buller Pass: a trail that will take us up into the alpine terrain, with a total ascent of just around 700m vertical.

Now, from here the jog can be divided into 3 sections:

1st section:
The defining characteristic of the first section is wash-outs. Wash-outs and fallen trees, to be more precise. Thanks to the amazing flooding we had a few weeks ago, the beautiful Ribbon Creek trail, the trail that we would be following up towards the pass, had been more or less ruined by it’s namesake creek--whose valley it followed. This basically meant that the first part of the jog required some awesome ninja skills for fording creeks (read, slipping on rocks and falling in creeks) and sweet balance-beam log crossings. Segment one ended after about an 1:45, when we got to a picturesque waterfall and started going up more steeply.

2nd section:
The second section was between the waterfall and the summit. 15min or so down the line after the waterfall, we hit the section of “trail” that Mike had mentioned at the start of our hike, when he told us to “make sure you have at least 3 people for the chains--one to go for help, one to comfort and one to die in agony.” Fun. The chains lived up to my expectations in the form of several lengths of chain drilled into the side of a cliff so as to give some form of safety hold for what was basically the closest thing to rock climbing you can get to without actually rock climbing. Thankfully we made it safe and sound.
At the top of the chains we ran through some more forest, past Ribbon Lake and then up through beautiful alpine meadows spotted with snow (yes, we did surprise the guys behind us with a snowball ambush). Eventually, the alpine meadows (some of the most beautiful terrain I’ve been through) gave way to rocks as we scrambled our way up the last 100m or so of vert. to the summit of the pass! Pretty views and some hail were the main attractions of this part of the run.
Top of the world!! Or, more accurately, top of the pass.

Looking down at the descent. Photo creds to Chris for these last two!

3rd section:
The descent. This made up the last hour or so of the hike and was mostly comprised of super-fun downhill running (I wanna go fast!) through some crazy epic burnt out forests. I had so much fun on this workout that, up until about 20min to go I really didn’t want it to end.... but once we hit just over the 3hr mark in what was supposed to be a 2:5hr workout, my legs started complaining.
Finally, we made it out of the woods, to finish what was one of the coolest adventure runs I’ve done.

Well, hopefully that give some insight into what a “typical” volume workout with the Academy is like! Jump back in time to the present and I’ve just made it through a rest day and am ready to finish up the last hard week in this four week block of training. For those of you interested in numbers here are some stats from the last two weeks:

Week 1 total: 22:44hrs
Week 2 total: 21:05hrs
Number of 4hr workouts: 3
Number of workouts: 19
Average z1 heart rate: 139
Mountains climbed: 2
Cycling races watched: 1
Washing machine loads: 2
Awesome scree slopes descended: 1
Majestic elk seen: 2
Sun burns: 2 occasions
Sunscreen bottles exploded in backpack: 1 (this sucked)
Eggo-style waffles eaten: 12
Hours of sleep not including naps: 130
Clif Bars eaten: approx. 22
Number of naps: not enough (you can never have enough)

In whatever volume workouts you may encounter, remember to Dream big, people!

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