Saturday, 14 January 2017

Local Trail Reports

The following is list of trail reports from local skiers who have been out on the trails.

Goldbar / Capilano Park
"I skied at Capilano today and it is in excellent shape; the best it has been all year with a deep classic track! So, both CL and SK is excellent! The Goldbar trials have been blown in quite a bit, especially the more open and exposed sections near the Pavilion and around the lake. Woodcutters has quite a bit of debris but the larger, blown down branches and twigs have been removed. A track has been set but it is shallow. Retaining Wall and 50th Street has a good track. All of the Goldbar trail has a recently renovated skate lane. As such, skating in all of Goldbar is quite good but be watchful when skiing Woodcutters. 

I didn't ski up Esso Hill but it is renovated as is most of Goldstick. It is suitable for skating as the cover is thin, but has some skied in tracks as well."

As reported by Ulf Kleppe on January 9th 

Blackfoot Recreational Area

"Today at Islet Lake, Blackfoot. Conditions don't get much better than this."

Posted by Julia Keenliside to ENSC Facebook on January 16th:

"We skied today up to Hare. The tracksetter was out working. When we stopped to talk to him, he said he was tracking all the way to Blackfoot staging area, including Winter and Wapiti trails. Conditions were good after they were track set.  The tracksetter was using the Gater with a pull behind track setting sled. He said this unit should be equipped with a GPS tracker in the next week, which means the real time website that shows track setting status should be more up to date. He also said we need quite a bit more snow before Prince Haaken (the piston bully track setter) can be used."

As seen on Facebook on January 9th 

Strathcona Wilderness Centre

"The base is starting to firm up nicely, although with only 6-8 cm to work with, we are still not able to set full depth classic tracks; however, the tracks are setting up nicely, and should remain intact for the most part. Watch for some tree debris and thin spots, particularly on corners and hills."

As reported by Bjorn Taylor on January 9th

Drayton Valley

"Pembina Nordic Ski Club hosted the 4th annual Eagle Point Loppet yesterday (Jan 14). The temperature stayed in the single digits (below zero, that is) making for a very "nice and comfortable" racing conditions! Only 1.5 hours south and east of Edmonton it is worth the drive. They have more snow than we do and have done an excellent job of converting this into very agreeable ski conditions; the grooming has been excellent!

The entire 13km trail network was used in the loppet. From the centrally located chalet the trails extend both east and west. The west trail is very forgiving, well most of it, and is gently undulating, wide enough for both skate and classic, and winds along the top bank of, and overlooking, the North Saskatchewan River. For those who want to have a closer look at the River,  you can choose to dive down the extension loop at the very west end of this trail...but remember, what goes (sharply) down must come up! 

The East loop starts off easy enough, gently down actually, and then drops almost to river level before heading slowly and steadily up. The North East loop is ideal for long steady diagonal striding! And some fun, turny downhills...and then a steady flat, false flat, section before, well, you climb a wall back up to the chalet! 

The trails are fun, challenging, and, depending on what you are looking for, has something for everyone. They have lots of snow, the grooming is excellent and is done often, the entire trail network is suitable for both skate and classic; the drive is well worth it!!"


As reported by Ulf Kleppe on January 15th 

More reports to follow as they become available.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Preliminary Birkie Wax Discussion #1

Preliminary Birkie Wax Discussion #1 

Overview:
This is our initial post in preparation for the 2017 Canadian Birkie. With nearly five weeks to go until the race, think of this post as containing the principles for cooking up some fast skis. But not necessarily the exact recipe... yet. We will continue to post regular updates that hone in on a final solution as we get closer to the race. 
Heading out for some glide testing. 
Event Information:
Saturday, February 11, 2017
  • Mass start
  • Classic and skate technique options
  • Race website - website
Trail Conditions:
Regular reports as to trail conditions can be found in a couple of places.
Reports from people who have skied the trails say conditions vary considerably depending on where you are. In some cases the tracks are excellent, in some cases the snow is quite thin, and in other cases there is significant debris coverage. Needless to say, more snow would be a big help.
Wax on!
Weather:
Cold air continues to linger over much of Alberta. There's a bit of a break coming Wednesday. But, it's short-lived. The real warming trend won't start until the weekend (in the Edmonton area). The arctic air gets shoved out this weekend & daytime highs climb back to around or above zero Sat/Sun & next week. The long range forecast doesn't look ideal in Edmonton, but it's almost always colder in Birkie Land.
Initial Glide Thoughts (applies to both classic and skate races):
Base layer - Over the course of a long race like the Birkie, and especially given heavy traffic and debris on the trail, durability of the glide wax is critical. This is most easily accomplished by applying an initial hardening underlayer before your race wax. Iron, scrape, and brush as per normal. 

If no significant additional snow and tracks are old and transformed:
  • Rex RCF Black
  • Rex RCF Pink
  • SkiGo LF Graphite
The graphite waxes from Swix and Toko would not be good options. These are very soft waxes and serve a different purpose.

Race wax - It is too early to make any suggestions with respect to race wax. However, high flouro waxes will always be the superior choice, due to their ability to stay fast over the long term. We have had great success with Holmenkol Speedbase over the years for this reason. 
"I tell you what, its cold"
Classic Wax Considerations:
Base layer - If the kick ends up being klister, obviously you will need a klister binder. If the kick ends up being hard wax, Vauhti Super Base or Vauhti K-base will be the best choices. These base layers have an uncanny ability to improve not only the feeling of the kick in old snow, but ALSO improve the speed. Neat, huh?

Kick wax options -  By far too early to say. At the moment hardwax would be an excellent choice, however that could change with warm temperatures. PowerGrip may also be an option with excellent kick and durability, although likely slower speed.

Skin Skis - Skin skis work in almost all kinds of snow and temperature conditions, from cold and dry to wet klister, on rock hard and icy tracks as well as velvety smooth. Also, having kick (rather than going with no kick wax at all), provides the option to stride on any up hill terrain, thus saving the arms and allowing you to hit the double-pole sections harder.

Double Pole - Are you feeling adventurous? In professional marathon races, such as the Birkie, most athletes are double poling the entire race and going with no kick wax at all. However, unless you have been specifically training for this for many years, or your name is Brian McKeever, we suggest steering clear of this option unless the tracks are icy as luge tracks.  

Grip wax testing.
Other Things to Consider:
Pole straps - Now would be a good time to inspect your pole straps to make sure they aren't any significant frays or tears. There is nothing worse than tearing a strap right at the start or, even worse, half way through the race. 

Bindings - Now would also be a good time to quickly inspect your bindings to ensure that everything appears tight and well in place.

Wax pocket - Ensure you know where you grip zone is and have it clearly marked. Remember that if you are skiing with a pack, you will likely need to shorten your grip zone as the pack has the effect of making you heavier.

Fast Trax Wax Service  - Birkie specific wax service

Fast Trax Wax Clinic - Birkie specific wax clinic



Let the fun begin!
Training
In terms of training for the Birkie and the local ski conditions, we can confirm that the skiing at both Goldbar and SWC is great, we used race skis at Goldbar both this past Saturday and Sunday. 

As of Monday January 9th, we would not have used race skis at Goldbar, but the skiing was still quite good, and news on the trail as of Friday January 13th is that the trails out at Blackfoot have been groomed but are quite wind blown due to Wednesday's cold front moving through.

What Happens Next
We will be posting updates with increasing frequency as conditions change and as we approach the day of the race.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Ski Options 2016

At Fast Trax, our goal is to use our experience and knowledge to help you find what you need to enjoy your time on snow. We add value to our products by providing exceptional service to fit you properly and to simplify equipment and waxing. We are a small shop and focus exclusively on equipment made for well groomed trails in the following three categories of skiing for both classic and skate skiing.

While there are an infinite number of options when selecting equipment the examples below are a good representation of what we have to offer. The examples are options from Fischer and Swix and are classic only for presentation purposes but we offer similar packages from Salomon, Madshus and Rossignol for both the junior and adult skier.

Fast Trax Options
Sport ~ Loppet novices to traditional classic and skate skiers ~ speed & control. 
  • Sport A ~ Sport category skis are particularly light and produce a very dynamic kick for sport loppet racers. As well leisure skiers can also achieve high speeds by channeling their strength efficiently and effortlessly.
Fischer SCS Classic Ski, NNN Exercise Classic Binding,
Fischer RC3 Boot and Swix Comp Pole.
  • Sport B ~ For those classic skiers with fewer hours for prepping skis or for those who simply do not enjoy grip waxing, the new developed Skin Skis offer a time-saving option that demands kick without sacrificing ski feel - More info.
    Performance ~ Loppet racer to aspiring world cup athlete ~ speed & lightweight. This enables performance-driven skiers to convert power into high speeds more efficiently than ever before.
    Fischer RCS Classic Ski, Fischer Carbonlite Boot,
    NNN Xcelerator Binding and Swix Team or Star Pole.

    High Performance ~ Loppet racer to aspiring world cup athlete ~ speed & lightweight. True enthusiasts are interested in one thing more than anything else, speed and equipment naturally plays the decisive role here.
    Fischer Speedmax Classic Skis, Fischer Carbonlite Boot, 
    NNN Xcellerator Binding and Swix Triax 2.0 Pole.

    Ski Ready Service
    Each pair of new skis purchased from our shop comes with the following;
    • Hot Box (sport and performance skis)
    • Glide Wax
    • Base Binder (classic skis)
    • Binding Mount
    • Ski Straps

    Ski Selection
    Once we have determined which category of ski suits your needs we begin the selection process based on your height and weight picking the appropriate skis from our ski rack. Once we have made our initial selections we have you move into our fitting room where we determine which ski is best for you.




    Once we we have the correct ski for you there is a two day turn around to have your skis mounted with bindings and placed in the hot box over night with a soft glide wax. In the morning we remove the skis from the hot box and cap the skis with a low flour glide wax. For classic skis the grip zone is marked with permanent marker, sanded and base binder is applied so when you pick up your skis they are ready to enjoy the great outdoors. All you will need to do is apply the correct grip wax when going classic skiing.

    Follow Up Service
    Waxing can be a chore so we offer several options for ski services and suggest you bring your skis into the shop every two to three weeks through the winter to have your skis cleaned and re-glide waxed for optimal performance.

    Friday, 18 November 2016

    Winter Nordic Training - Key Workouts

    Congratulations on an excellent summer and fall of nordic training, most everyone with considerable improvement. With consistent improvement, anything is possible.

    Looking ahead, continued improvement from now through your intended peak competitions latter in the winter requires consistent quality training, and taking care of other things in life consistent with quality training. Particularly relevant is what you do, or don’t do, between competitions once regular competitions begin in a few weeks time.  

    Over the winter months avoid the temptation to do too much training and maintain consistent quality training (with occasional competitions) to enable yourself to maximize your results. Being careful too schedule enough recovery between competition weekends and avoid the temptation to over race once the season begins.

    If you have concerns or questions about what you are doing (or should be doing) in your training, now is a great time to address them.  

    KEY WORKOUTS
    Interval Workouts
    Over the winter aim to complete two interval workouts per week on Wednesday and Saturday when you do not have a race on the weekend and one interval session per week on Wednesday when you have finished up a racing weekend or gearing up for a racing weekend. 

    In season keep the intervals short with short rest to continue to build anaerobic power. Workouts with shorter reps, fewer number of reps, and/or greater recovery periods should be done faster than those with longer reps, more reps, and/or less recoveries. 

    If during or after a workout, you find that you could have maintained faster paces, do so next reps or workout. If during or after a workout, you find that you could not sustain the original paces, make that adjustment during the workout or in the next workout. 

    Over a period of time, you’ll learn by feel the maximum paces that you can ski throughout various workouts (and races).

    Tempo Workouts
    To round out your program so to compliment your formal interval workouts you would focus on 4-5 short 20 to 40 minute tempo workouts per week. The most important aspect of these tempo workouts is to understand that they are controlled tempo workouts, done on recovery-adaptation days; so the pace and volume must be controlled to allow full recovery-adaptation between formal workouts and prior to competitions. 

    Rather than skiing long and slow on these days, aim to get in some training that contributes to performance with these short crisp tempo skis.

    Core Strength 
    In conjunction with your tempo workouts on Tuesday and Thursday be sure to maintain your core strength with the Core X Routine through the winter.

    Recovery Workouts
    Recovery workouts are done once per week on Sunday and as part of your warm up and cool downs before interval workouts and your warm up and cool downs before tempo workouts. These are slow continuous workouts at generally at a heart rate of 110-130 for experienced skiers, 120-140 for skiers newer to sport over longer distances. 

    While not as important to development as Speed, Speed Endurance, Specific Endurance, and Anaerobic Threshold training, properly applied Aerobic Endurance training aids warm-up & recovery and contributes progressively to performances at greater distances/durations.

    These recovery workouts on Sundays should stay in the range of 90 to 120 minutes as high volumes of long-slow workouts lowers the natural growth hormones in the body, it detracts from the development of Speed, Speed Endurance, Specific Endurance, and Anaerobic Threshold characteristics, and therefore actually negatively affects development and causes decreases of performances in middle distance and distance events.

    Winter Run Training - Key Workouts

    Congratulations on an excellent summer and fall of running, most everyone with considerable improvement. With consistent improvement, anything is possible.

    Looking ahead, continued improvement from now through your intended peak competitions in 2017 requires consistent quality training, and taking care of other things in life consistent with quality training. Particularly relevant is what you do, or don’t do, between now and when regular competitions resume next spring.  

    Over the winter months avoid the temptation to take break from training and maintain consistent quality training (with occasional competitions) to enable yourself to be running faster come spring, and much faster thereafter, than you are today.

    If you have concerns or questions about what you are doing (or should be doing) in your training, now is a great time to address them.  

    KEY WORKOUTS
    Interval Workouts
    Over the winter aim to complete two interval workouts per week. Workouts with shorter reps, fewer number of reps, and/or greater recovery periods should be run faster than those with longer reps, more reps, and/or less recoveries. 

    If during or after a workout, you find that you could have maintained faster paces, do so next reps or workout. If during or after a workout, you find that you could not sustain the original paces, make that adjustment during the workout or in the next workout. 

    Over a period of time, you’ll learn by feel the maximum paces that you can run throughout various workouts (and races).

    Tempo Workouts
    To round out your program so to compliment your formal interval workouts you would focus on four short 20 to 40 minute tempo workouts per week. The most important aspect of these tempo workouts is to understand that they are controlled tempo runs, run on recovery-adaptation days; so the pace and volume must be controlled to allow full recovery-adaptation between formal workouts and prior to competitions. 

    Rather than running long and slow on these days, aim to get in some training that contributes to performance with these short crisp tempo runs.

    Core Strength 
    In conjunction with your tempo workouts on Tuesday and Thursday be sure to maintain your core strength with the Core X Routine though the winter.

    Recovery Workouts
    Recovery workouts are done once per week on Sunday and as part of your warm up and cool downs before interval workouts and your warm up and cool downs before tempo runs. These are slow continuous workouts at generally at a heart rate of 110-130 for experienced runners, 120-140 for runners newer to sport over longer distances. 

    While not as important to development as Speed, Speed Endurance, Specific Endurance, and Anaerobic Threshold training, properly applied Aerobic Endurance training aids warm-up & recovery and contributes progressively to performances at greater distances/durations.

    These recovery workouts on Sundays should stay in the range of 90 to 120 minutes as high volumes of long-slow workouts lowers the natural growth hormones in the body, it detracts from the development of Speed, Speed Endurance, Specific Endurance, and Anaerobic Threshold characteristics, and therefore actually negatively affects development and causes decreases of performances in middle distance and distance events.

    Once spring arrives you can start to add event specific endurance work with simulation workouts, replacing one formal interval workout every three weeks on terrain similar to your goal event.

    Wednesday, 31 August 2016

    FTRS - New Ski Club Suit

    Fast Trax is pleased to release the new look the shop staff will be sporting for the 2016 race season, "The Red Rocket"


    Look for the team at Frozen Thunder, the Alberta Cups, NorAms, the 2017 Ski Nationals and the Canadian Birkebeiner.

    Friday, 3 June 2016

    Ultra Race Nutrition Revisted

    With the ultra marathon season upon us I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the idea of ultra race nutrition. Through my own training and racing I tried many approaches to my nutrition and through readings and trial and error I have come to follow the following guidelines. 

    At the core of race nutrition is the idea of consuming small amounts of carbs every 15mins and to start each workout or race fully loaded and not getting behind in calories. Also the longer the event the more calories needed. 


    In my readings by Trent Stellingwerff and Asker's Jeukendrup, Trent drives home the point of 15grams of carbs every 15mins in 150ml of fluids and Asker has some specific ideas based on distance.

    Asker showed some interesting data showing a pronounced trend that faster times were correlated with higher carb intake per hour in ultra events and suggests that ultra-endurance athletes should aim for up to 90 g/hr of carbs, and he showed some data from Ironman triathlete Chrissie Wellington who set a new Ironman world record in 2010 using this approach.

    Asker's guidelines with suggestions based on Trent's "Rule of 15"
    • less than 1hr: no carbs needed 
    • 1-2 hr: up to 30 g/hr
      • 10 grams of carbs every 15mins 
    • 2-3 hr: up to 60g/hr
      • 15 grams of carbs every 15mins 
    • 3-20 hrs: up to 90g/hr
      •  20 grams of carbs every 15mins
    (Trent's rule of 15 is adjusted slightly when moving to the ultra marathon)

    In terms of tolerating high carb intake, it’s definitely an individual thing, but you do get better at tolerating high loads with practice. In his example of triathlete Chrissie Wellington, she was consuming 86 g/hr in 2007 and in 2011 was apparently taking quite a bit more than that, because she’s managed to train her system to tolerate it. 

    Another change Wellington made was that she takes just carbs, no protein. In Asker’s opinion he found no benefit from adding protein — so eliminating the protein might make it easier on the gut.

    Also he noted that his recent studies have found no difference in absorption rate for bars, gels and  fluids, so you can mix and match to find what your stomach tolerates best. He makes no reference to non sport nutrition products in terms of absorption rate but I would think that certain foods such as cooked sweet potato would also be a good addition to your mix of foods. 

    The thing that stands out for me is that when you consume food like soups, potatoes etx in an ultra event be very careful to keep to the rule of 15 in that you do not consume more than 25grams of carbs in 15mins as your body will not be able to tolerate the large increase in calories, i.e. do not come into transition and sit down and consume a pizza, have the pizza cut up into small pieces in a zip lock and consume in small portions as you walk the uphills. 

    It takes about an hour for the rate of carb uptake to reach maximum. So if you only start taking carbs after an hour, there will be a delay before those carbs are being fully utilized, so it is best to start right from the start utilizing the rule of 15 deciding how you want to consume the calories utilizing gels, bars, sports drink and in what combination. 

    Given all this, the thing that strikes you the most, is how am I going to carry all these calories so that I can consume them in such small amounts throughout the event. This is where a little planning can go a long way and breaking down the legs and deciding how long each leg will take and how many calories  you will need using any number of hydration packs and handhelds.

    The take home message in my mind is not so much what you use as fuel but how you consume that fuel and if you can take small sips, small bites and start early you will stay well stocked and energy levels will remain even throughout your event. 

    Hope that helps.