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My Off Season

Andrew Young / 27-04-2016 7:34:33

It’s been a while since my last race of the season. I’ve had lots of time to do other things and plan for the coming season. I’m now getting to the stage where I’m getting bored of the off season and I’m ready to get back into training. I thought it would be good to update the blog with what I’ve been up to so when I start the new training year on Monday the blog is also ready to go for the next year. 

After the Tour de Ski Canada I stayed in Canada for a few weeks. I thought seeing as well as I was on that side of the globe I may as well make the most of it. I did some snowboarding and got in a few days of backcountry touring as well as a trip down to California. All in all it was a pretty awesome few weeks. It did mean I missed NM del 2, but I can live with that for this year.

After Canada I headed back to Norway, albeit only for 3 days. It was good to catch up with the guys there and hear how their end of season had been. After the brief stopover in Lillehammer I headed home to Scotland.

Those of you that remember the team sprint from the Sochi Olympics will know that I have a heart condition. I was kind of strong armed into announcing it in mixed zone at the end of the race. I’ve never really liked to use it as an excuse, but it was what happened. I’ve had the condition my entire life but only really became prominent when I was 15 or 16. Around that time people started to realise that I wasn’t just having a bad day at training and there was actually something wrong. I was sent to all sorts of specialist and eventually diagnosed with a tachycardia. At the time I was advised not to pursue any further treatment. However here we are 8 years later and I’m still suffering from the same symptoms. I took the decision before Christmas last year to explore the opportunities of curing the tachycardia with ablation. And so I headed home to Scotland for doctors appointments and to undergo the ablation treatment. The first part of an ablation is kind of an exploration. The doctors have to find out exactly what it is thats wrong and how to treat it. And so I found my self lying on an operating table, fully awake, with only local anaesthetic in my right groin, as a doctor pretty much rammed 2 metal wires from my groin up to my heart. I’m not sure words can really do justice of how uncomfortable this is. But this whole experience was quite possibly the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in my life. You can feel the wires making there way through the vain from your groin up through your belly and into your chest. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that once the 2 metal wires are in place the doctors can now take control of your heart. By sending electrical signals they can control your heart beat, make it skip beats and generally do what ever they want. Imagine lying completely still breathing easy while your hear rate pumps at over 200bpm. Then it skips a beat and drops to 100bpm. The speed is enough to make you feel uneasy but the other thing that became apparent was the force at which at heart beats. Imagine having the inside of your chest pushed outwards 200 times a minute and then you start to understand. Take whatever level of discomfort you are imagining now and double it. That’s how uncomfortable this was. In fact I’m surprised it’s not been used as a method of torture. I’d pretty much have given up anything in order for it to stop.

After about an hour of this they did actually find the cause of my tachycardia. They managed to induce it twice as I lay there trying my best not to cry. Unfortunately the location of what causes my particular tachycardia makes it very difficult to treat. The risks associated with the treatment far out weigh the benefits. It was decided then and there not to pursue treatment. To be clear there is absolutely no danger of living with this condition and it won’t stop me from participating in sport. When it happens my heart is beating so inefficiently  that I can’t maintain performance levels. So all it means is that I’ll have to drop out of the occasional race and there will be the odd training session that I can’t complete. But other than that, the impact should be minimal. Of course it is frustrating. But I’ve coped with it for the last 8 years so I’m sure I’ll keep on coping with it.

Other than getting my heart seen to I was also home to have some meetings and tests with the support team at the Scottish Institute of Sport. I had some good planning sessions so we have an idea of what we are working towards for the next year. We also took the chance to get some baseline tests, physio and strength work done. All the test really showed was that I haven’t trained properly for the last few weeks. But it gives us a base line, and we know that if I’m not beating those results later in the year, then I’ve been doing something seriously wrong.

I also took the opportunity to get out on my road bike. Although the weather was more like winter, it did actually snow whilst I was home, I even managed to get a ride in shorts. I had a few rides on my own, but I also headed out with the local group «Huntly cyclists». Having not ridded in a group for a few years, I spent the first hour wobbling about trying not to fall off just when someone rode a long side me. Fortunately for what I lack in skill and technique I could make up for with lungs. I survived the ride and only had 20min of i4 (race effort) on my heart rate monitor.
Getting involved with local sport is great fun. Seeing as I was home I joined my parents and ran a local 10k at the Glenlivet distillery. The course was mostly uphill for the first 4k before 2k of flat and 4k downhill back to the finish. I started off steady but caught the leaders at 3k. We ran together until 6k. From 6k to 10k I ran like a penguin. My legs just stopped working and I’d seemingly forgotten how to run. In the last 4k I lost 1min to leaders. I finished in 35.39. I was 18 the last time I ran a 10k so it was a comfortable pb, but it still leaves a lot to be desired.

Over the past few weeks I’ve started to increase my training again so I’m ready for the start of the new season. I would give you some impressive % of how much I’ve increased in the last 3 weeks. But 100% of 0 isn’t really very much. Although I had to take a few days off after the heart procedure I managed to train a dizzying 9(nine!) hours last week. Wow, I best watch out for overtraining. (that is sarcastic by the way). This week I’ll train a bit more and by next week I should be ready to get back into full training. Because I’ve been home I haven’t managed to get much skiing this spring. But this morning I headed out for a crust ski with Rune Malo. I’ve been useless at taking pictures recently so the picture bellow is of Rune Malo from todays crust ski.

At the weekend I’m heading to Mosjøen to take part in Bysprinten. It’s my first time taking part in a «show» race. So I’m really looking forward to it. I just wish I’d been able to do more skiing before hand. I’ve heard good things about the event from previous years, so it should be a good weekend.

Over and out for ski season 2015/16.

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