Listening and Accommodating

As athletes, we are planners. We are always looking ahead, driven by the future. If we want to do well in a race in May, we start planning and preparing for it in the fall; if we’re winter sport athletes, we’re “made” in the summer; and even though we have no idea what will come into our lives in three weeks, we’ve got our training plans already laid out for that time. Planning ahead, particularly when it comes to a training/racing schedule, is crucial to being a top-tier athlete. But so too — and much less discussed — is the ability to steer away from that plan.

When we make a training plan, we plan on the notion that our bodies are healthy and our souls content. In the weeks leading up to a big-race taper, we prepare ourselves to push beyond what we’ve done before, to endure pain along the way, and become stronger athletes once we reach the other side. This is a necessary process to improving ourselves. But when our bodies aren’t in that healthy and happy state, we just cannot treat them the same way and expect the same response. We absolutely need to listen. And, as simple as it sounds, this listening, and the consequential “backing off,” can sometimes be one of the hardest things we as athletes have to do.

I got a pretty good taste of this lesson late this summer/early fall as I dealt with the injury to my foot. I learned to embrace the rest from running as a chance to improve my bike and swim, get some ski-specific training in, and of course to heal my body — but it was not easy. And now, after working so hard to come back to form with my running, and just when I was rising back to top shape before my December marathon, last week brought yet another setback.

As usual, my plate has been beyond full these past few months. As I try too wear more hats than can truly fit on my head, I have become increasingly overwhelmed, somewhat stressed, and of course VERY busy. Naturally, my body is not a fan, and last week it spoke up loud and clear to tell me that I needed to slow down. During what was supposed to be one of the biggest weeks of my race prep, I came down with a terrible cold. The coughing kept me up at night, and my head throbbed during the day. And as tempting as it was to just push on through, wanting to complete my two hard interval sets for the week along with my distance workouts, I decided to listen to my body, and accommodate it. With everything else I already had going on that week, I was wearing myself down plenty just by checking the tasks off of my to-do list, including several trips down to Reno for some broadcast work and numerous early mornings. The interval days came and went, and while I naturally wished I was out there, I knew I was doing the right thing to rest.

By the next week, I was feeling much better, and sleeping through the night. And after the rest, my body was raring to get moving again! I came back this week and put in a solid long run along with what was undoubtedly my best interval set since coming back from my injury. Despite missing the days last week, I am still finally reaching the level I have been hoping to get to since I first started running again in late September, after an eight-week hiatus. After decades of hard athletic training, it seems I’m finally learning the lesson of listening to my body, and altering my schedule to accommodate its needs. And this time, I got it right. And my body responded fabulously.

While we plan ahead as athletes, and line up the perfect plan to get us to peak form by performance time, we can’t always foresee what else will happen in our lives beyond the training. Life brings unexpected challenges. Sometimes one task gets added to the already-expansive “to-do” list, and it becomes too much. Our bodies get tired or we come down with an illness. While these things are inconveniences for certain, they are not deal-breakers. We can come back from a week of not having the time to get in our training hours, or getting sick and having to take days off. But only if we listen, and respond. Our bodies truly do know best. So if they’re trying to say something, don’t block it out! Listen. And accommodate. Despite altering your plan, you’ll be doing yourself — and your body — a huge favor in the long run.

UNR Ski Swap

This weekend is the biggest fundraiser the UNR ski club: the UNR ski swap. Yesterday the UNR ski club helped set it all up. I enjoyed working with about ten other gray-haired guys to put together racks for ski and snowboard boots. The same set of boards are used every year, but each year they are put together a little differently and re-drilled, resulting in a bunch of plywood and pine boards that look like swiss cheese from all the holes in them. It was fun to watch each of these 60-something guys bark at each other trying to make the jigsaw puzzle of planks fit just right. “Now, I told you, those wide boards can’t go in that way!!” Too many cooks in the kitchen. Pretty incredible amount of stuff for sale, though. If you want a screaming deal on just about any kind of ski-related gear, it’s the place to go. I’m hoping to score a retro one-piece that I can rock up at alpine meadows – after training for nordic skiing of course.

Winter Tease

I have been preoccupied with a few too many juggling balls recently. Finally I get some free time and – presto – winter has (nearly) arrived! So much so that the Turkey Trot was cancelled :( My most recent adventure was to Fort Bragg for my birthday (the 27th and my favorite one so far). It was a quick weekend getaway to the coast for some seafood and some more seafood. Driving from San Francisco to Fort Bragg is an experience like nothing else in California.

Incline High School Nordic Ski Team begins training next Monday. This is going to be an exciting year for me as a coach and as an athlete. I have been running some long miles in the Tahoe Basin and I am thrilled to be working with Incline athletes this winter. We have a couple of new faces and many returnees.

Let’s hope for a white Thanksgiving.

The Perfect Study Break

Last Sunday, a few of us early birds were going out for a combo training up in Squaw Valley, to get the most out of the three days weekend. We mounted our Rollerskis and backpacks in the morning when the majority of college students were still recovering from the debauchery of the previous Halloween night. The sun and the fresh air felt amazing while we were cruising over the pavement. My mind was clear, focused and free of any tasks that could arise concerning school. I made me realize once again how helpful these outdoor practices are for my work in school. Later that day I could tackle my homework with energy and motivation that I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise. Life and skiing is all about balance and harmony, and I know that a good workout in the morning will have a positive effect later when I approach my reading and writing.
“I have to exercise in the morning before my brain figures out what I’m doing” ~ Marsha Doble

He must be a nordie

This is how I met the UNR Ski Club:

I was new to Reno in September and didn’t know any of the trails. One day I was trying to mountain bike up a ridiculously steep trail that led up towards the giant “N”. I eventually gave up my futile attempt and turned back down. When I reached the bottom, I found August, Elias, Gus, and Jeff getting ready to do some bounding intervals up the crazy trail I was fiddling around on. August stopped me and said, ” are you a nordic skier, because nobody else would be stupid enough to try and mountain bike up something like that.” Nordies always know their own kind I guess. August invited me to join the UNR ski club and filled me in on where I could mountain bike without killing myself. And so began my introduction to what’s up in Reno for nordic skiers.


 The race season is right around the corner that means easing up on the distance and focusing on quality intervals and intensity. Last week I pushed myself in two quality interval sessions from the guidance of Glenn; 5×5 ski walking/Bounding and 4×6 Min with speeds classic roller ski. Overall, my training week went really well and I’m looking forward to West Yellowstone.

 This last weekend I was fortunate to experience the perks of my girlfriend Trish’s job. She’s Program Coordinator for the California Society for Healthcare Attorneys. We spent the weekend at the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa. Friday we checked in to the hotel, once into our room a gift basket delivery from the hotel full of fresh fruit, cheese, cracker, and wine. We nibbled on the snacks and enjoyed the wine while the sun set over the bay. This was the start of an amazing weekend!

Phillip Violett Asilomar Beach

Saturday started with a yoga session with David, next an amazing trip to the aquarium, then a breath taking road bike along 17 mile drive, and finallyyy peaceful surf at Asilomar Beach the same day a 12′ Great White attacked a surfer just north of Monterey. Sunday we indulged in a couples massage in the early AM and a mid-day surf in Carmel before the trek back home;-( The weekend was relaxing helping me recover for this weeks training.

Trish Ward And Phill Violett @ Carmel Beach