I once told my landlord that I was heading to Val Senales for a few weeks and that I wouldn’t be at home. He replied with «Val Senales? Oi, oi, oi».
That pretty much sums up Val Senales. It’s an impressive little valley extending up from Naturno in Val Venosta at 500moh to Maso Corto at 2011moh. Several ski teams come here for altitude training every Autumn and this year is the fifth time that the British team has come here. It lends itself to altitude training with being able to live at 2000m, take a short cable car ride to ski on the glacier in the mornings and drive down to 500m for afternoon sessions on roller skis. You can read more about how altitude training works here.
This year I’m trying out a few new things with altitude training. I’m trying coming to altitude later and so closer to important races in December. Because Beito is a week earlier than it has been the past few years this means I’m coming down from altitude and back to Norway the evening before racing there. In the past I’ve tried coming down a week to ten days before racing, so it’s going to be interesting to see how my body responds to coming straight from altitude and racing the day after. I’m also at altitude for 4 weeks in total, I had 10days in Livigno first before coming here for almost 3 weeks. Hopefully all this will lead to me having an amazing season, time will tell.
At the start of the camp I trained fairly easy to allow my body time to adapt to the lack of oxygen. But over the past 2 weeks I’ve been able to increase my training volume and the past 7 days have been a good volume block with 25 hours of training. Everybody in the British team has been involved with the camp to some extent. I’m here for 4 weeks, but some of the others came for only a week or 2 and Andrew Musgrave came here after being on a camp in Ramsau first. This has meant I’ve had plenty of people to train with. The older juniors and younger seniors have kept me company and we had some good training sessions together. All the younger athletes have left now and it’s just Muzzy, Annika, me and the coaches left. It’s a bit quieter and the banter is certainly less but we’ve still be able to train well.
As I’ve been training a lot of volume the plan for the past week has generally consisted of long easy sessions on the glacier in the morning before a shorter session in the afternoon. As we head towards winter solstice the nights are becoming much longer and the evenings darker. Even as far south as Italy it’s had an effect on our training and we’ve had to start our afternoon sessions earlier and make sure we have head torches with us. The afternoon sessions have mostly been in the gym or running as roller skiing in the dark isn’t really all that much fun. A couple of times we’ve used a bike path down in Naturno and done some speed training on roller skis. A few times a week we’ve not gone up skiing on the glacier but instead headed out for roller ski intervals. Today we did a level 3 roller ski session with some level 4 at the end.
The weather has been pretty amazing. With the glacier being at 3000m it stays cold and dry. Down in the valley at 500m it’s warm and perfect for dry land training. The old rule of 1 degree in temperature change for every 100m would mean a 25 degree difference between the glacier and the valley. It’s not quite that much but the temperature still reaches the high teens in the valley. This means you can be skiing on blue extra one morning and doing roller ski intervals topless the next.
I’ve also discovered cappuccinos this camp. I don’t know why but in the past I’ve always had either a black coffee or an espresso. For some reason I tried a cappuccino one morning at breakfast and instantly fell in love. Since then my daily cappuccino rate has varied somewhere between 3 and 5 per day. I’m completely addicted and constantly going round in a caffeine buzz. A cappuccino in the sun after training on the glacier, fantastic. I’m not quite sure this addiction is healthy but when your sitting sipping on a glorious, fresh cappuccino you’re not exactly thinking about what’s healthy.
The snow conditions have been pretty good this year. We’ve had a few days where the wind has picked up and blown snow into the classic tracks, but to be honest I’m scrapping the barrel to come up with a complaint about the snow conditions. The only thing that annoys me about the glacier is queueing. You have to queue to get up the cable car in the morning, then queue to get up a chairlift back to the cable car after training and then you have to queue to go down the cable car. As a Brit, I love queueing. I’d queue for anything, even if I don’t know what I’m waiting for. But queueing with Italians? Forget it. The queue resembles more of a of mosh pit at a Lamb of God concert than a proper queue. (you may have to youtube that reference, but you’ve been warned, strong images and langue!). My point is if you are claustrophobic, don’t like Italians jabbing you with skis, poking you with ski poles, bashing into you with rucksacks and using your rucksack as a leaning post then probably don’t try and stand in a queue at Val Senales.
2 more days here then off to Beito to race and hopefully go really fast.