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Powering Performance: Inside Cross-Country Ski Athlete Julien Locke’s On-the-Go Fuel!

July 25, 2023

 

Hey Rancho Vignola friends!

I hope everyone is having a great start to the summer! For me, we are now 2 months into the 2023/24 ski training season and it’s been a fantastic spring/summer so far. After a busy winter of racing, I opted to stay closer to my home in Nelson and I’ve been very much enjoying exploring my local area, finding new trails and getting creative with altitude training camps!

We kicked off the training season in early May with an on-snow training camp at our upper trails at the Black Jack Ski Club and then switched into dryland mode. This year has brought lots of long days on the bike and I’ve been enjoying adventuring up old FSRs and logging roads – a great way to put in the long, easy-effort training hours away from the busyness of the paved roads. And the terrain to explore is just incredible! Two rides, in particular, stand out as highlights – one up an overgrown FSR that climbs up to 2200m elevation with 16 switchbacks and another that included a combination of FSRs and single track that also topped out at over 2100m elevation. As someone who generally prefers going uphill, it’s hard to beat 3 hours of uninterrupted climbing into the alpine, all while starting and finishing at home! Of course, we’ve been spending plenty of time on rollerskis too, particularly for interval training sessions. At this time of year, the main focuses in training are volume (hours at low effort) and “threshold” intensity to build the engine, along with some strength and speed work.

As I write this, I’m in the midst of a 3wk altitude camp. For the past 15 years, barring 2020, the Haig Glacier has been a staple of my training program. Unfortunately, for the first time, the Haig is closed this summer due to low snow; a sobering reality. But while I would love to be skiing on snow, the main reason that we have frequented the Haig so much is the altitude exposure. And so, when we heard the news that the Haig was closed, we started brainstorming and came up with Altitude Camp – Kootenay Style. Over the course of three weeks, I’m doing 3-4 days per week up high in the mountains around the Kootenays, with rollerski sessions at home in the days in between. Halfway through, it’s been a fantastic training block so far! I did week 1 at Gwillim Lakes and had a fabulous time exploring the mountains around there, met some new friends and put in some excellent big training days. Next up is Monica Meadows, followed by Jumbo Pass (all above 2100m elevation). Despite growing up in Nelson, this was my first time getting a chance to appreciate the beauty of Gwillim Lakes, and likewise, I’m super excited to get up to Monica Meadows and Jumbo!

Heading into this training block, one of my main (perhaps only!) concerns with doing a fully self-supported altitude camp in the backcountry was food. When we’re training 24 hours per week, the nutrition demands are rather high and needless to say, we burn through a lot of fuel. Fortunately, things worked out super well for week 1. Breakfasts consisted of my usual – 1 1/4 cups of oats with cinnamon, walnuts and either dried cranberries or mango. For training snacks, I brought along a few handfuls of dried mango and mixed some cane sugar and salt into my water flasks. For lunches and dinners, I made (and then dehydrated) a Sweet Potato Stew and a Red Lentil Chili a few days before, along with some rice and pasta. Heading into week 2, I have a similar meal plan but I’m also bringing along some Tropical Mix to supplement the snacks! 

In other news, as some readers may know, I run Nordic Pulse, a GPS-based live-grooming report system for xc ski areas. The 2022/23 season was a banner year for us, both in terms of usership and growth. We’ve now had over 500k users on nordic-pulse.com with 2.8 million website views, and I’m proud to say we’re working with grooming teams from over 200 trail networks! I’ve been working full-blast writing code for new features, both for ski area operators/grooming teams and skiers, and our team has been doing a great job onboarding new ski areas and supporting everyone using the system. I could write a long list of everything I’m excited about at Nordic Pulse (it’s an endless list!), but one highlight I’ll mention is our new maps! I spent April, May and much of June completely overhauling our maps to help improve user experience – faster map loads, more interactivity, better navigation between areas and also to set the groundwork for new features coming for next winter – and I’m thrilled for everyone to get to use them next winter (or for our Australian friends using Nordic Pulse, this summer!).

I believe that wraps everything up for now. Time to get back up to high altitude!

Happy trails,

Julien

 

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