Tuesday, 28 January 2014

They say it is all about the journey

What a journey it has been for British skiing over the last 10 years which is culminating at the Sochi Olympics in a couple of week’s time. As you probably know the British Olympic team was selected last week with the famous foursome of Andrew Musgrave, Callum Smith, Posy Musgrave and Andrew Young selected. Despite my obvious disappointment of not making the team I couldn't be happier for them and can safely say that they whole heartedly deserve to be going to the games.

Early clash racing

The team has come a long way since the days of racing in the clash where Muzzy was so annoyed at being disqualified in a sprint start that he threw his skis away in disgust. Fortunately for our entertainment they got stuck in a tree and some poor adult had to help retrieve them.  

Callum and I 2005ish
Having basically grown up with them for the past 10 years or so I can certainly say it has been an interesting journey. From playing rugby in monastery corridors to competing at EYO or orange fights in Austria to World Championships we have been through it all together.

Youngie at his finest
Sport at the top is ultimately about results and how fast you ski, especially when trying to make the Olympics. That is why the Olympics is the pinnacle of sport because just getting is some achievement in it's self. Despite having arguably my best ever season I haven't skied as fast as I would have liked or got close to the Olympic qualification standard.
Fairly typical Roy pose
Obviously I am incredible lucky to be living the life that I do but if it weren't for some very special people it wouldn't be possible. It always starts with the parents and mine not only introduced me to the sport but supported me financially to chase my Dream. Roy Young who some how created the British Nordic ski team that we know today. Along with countless volunteers who have given thousands of hours of their time just so we can go about the woods on a couple of planks. 


This coming weekend I am racing in my 2nd World Cup here in Toblach with a 15km classic on the Saturday and skate sprint on the Sunday. The tracks are really nice with good snow so I'm looking forward to it. 


  Convincing Fiona to crawl some piping in the middle of no-where

Monday, 7 October 2013

Home Sweet Home

After three weeks in Tignes it is nice to be home for a little while if only to enjoy the comforts of sleeping in my own bed. Tignes was a really good camp but I was ready to go home for the last couple of days mainly because I was knackered. Since I've been home I have been keeping busy with a couple of trips down to Stirling to play on the roller ski treadmill and helping out some of the Huntly Ski Club Juniors.



Testing in Stirling went really well with a big improvement from my running test in May which is of course what I was looking for. We did 3 different tests in the form of a threshold running test at 10% gradient, Double pole speed test and a horrible Ski-erg test. The running test is a fairly standard test where the speed is increase every 5 minutes until you're lactate level gets to threshold or just above.

Running threshold test results
This was the first time I have done this particular ski-erg test as I was injured for the one in June and I can tell you it is not very fun. Basically you have 15 minutes to go as far possible which after double poling on the treadmill for an hour before hand meant my arms were piped!


Next weekend I am off to Torsby ski tunnel for a week with the British Junior & Youth squads which is a win win for me because I get to do two things I love doing, coaching and skiing on snow. Straight from Torsby I'm off for another altitude camp in Italy which includes two weeks of skiing on the Val Senales glacier where I was last year. Finger crossed the weather and snow conditions are as good as last year because I could do with a top up on my Vitamin D levels before we head to the darkness of Scandinavia.



Cheers
Alex Standen




Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A week in Tignes

We've now been in tinges for just over a week and apparently I'm rubbish a blogging because Fi  has written two blogs since we've been here. Getting to Tignes was it bit of a struggle because Posy and I were in Durham the weekend before coaching and got back at just after 11pm. Just it time to start packing and get up at 3:45am which for anybody who is normal and likes sleeping is not ideal. Tignes is a pretty amazing place surrounded by massive mountains and glaciers, making it perfect for getting in some good altitude training. The first part of the week was mostly easy training while we tried to get used to the fact that there is a lot less oxygen making your heart rate rocket when you start trying to train. We've actually had more of a problem trying to find places that are easy enough to train which is very a strange feeling for our Finnish coach Thomas who is used to driving for hours to find a hill never mind a mountain. Our first interval session was a 3x20 minutes threshold up one of the mountain passes that the Tour de France sometimes uses which had over 1000m of climbing in it. As there are a number of mountains right out the door we have been doing a few hikes which have included climbing up on to ridges which are 3000 meters high. On these adventures the wildlife have been coming out to play with marmots, mountain goats and billions of crickets or grasshoppers. You can see enough crickets for a lifetime in about 10 minutes here whilst they decide it would be a great idea to jump at you from all directions. Wearing sunglasses are essential not just for the sun but also to keep the crickets out whilst you walk through a dense patch of them it sounds like a lawnmower starting up the racket they make. Fi also stood on a little adder, which I must have disturbed as I was in front, making her jump out of her skin and considering I've been bitten by one before made me feel quite lucky. Today we did a uphill classic race for 7.5km which was pretty tough with 500m of ascent and some sections that were over 14% gradient. I stayed with Callum and Youngy for the first 5km or so but when it started getting really steep I died and fell back about 50m in the space of about 200m. Considering how much hard training I've been able to do for the last 5 weeks with a dodgy hamstring I was fairly pleased with it. Check out some of the photos I've stolen from Thomas below as well as my favourite video from the Durham weekend, Lynne and Beth doing skate ski across.









Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Summer training camps as Athlete and Coach

For two and a half weeks of August its been summer camp time in Scotland, in three different locations with a collection of the best cross country skiers Britain has to offer. The first week started with the senior team in Stirling at the institute of sport for a week of testing and planning for the upcoming Olympic season. Unfortunately after a good couple of weeks training I managed to pull my hamstring the day before the camp doing a sprint session with the junior athletes. Although it was bad timing it did mean I got excellent physio support every day from Kelly at the institute and that helped speed up the healing process. The only testing I managed to do was a double pole test on the treadmill where the treadmill is set at 5% gradient and gradually gets faster and faster until you almost fall off the back.
video

Whilst in Stirling we got to have a go on the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome which was epic! Pretty dam scary to start with but after about 15 minutes it became a lot of fun. Pretty sure we won't become a team of track cyclist any time soon but I won't forget it for a while. 
Simon getting his guns out for testing.
With 5 days completed in Stirling we moved North to Aviemore where I was able to gradually do more and more of the training including a couple of interval session. However on one of the evenings we had a football tournament with all the senior and junior athletes taking part. It took one run to discover that my hamstring wasn't really better. I should know better by now....
Beth storming up the Suie
After having a Day to slightly recovery from my own training camp it was time to switch into Coach mode and take charge of 8 BNDS athletes for the Huntly summer camp. I was slightly worried about how motivated and tired the athletes would be after the previous weeks training camp and there were quite a few bleary eyed people on Sunday morning. With a slightly smaller group to work with we  focused on working through different technique pointers and looking at video of themselves compared to the world’s best. 
The four amigos doing level 3 intervals 

The camp included two interval sessions with a long threshold session up the Rhynie to Clash road and we finished the camp with max intervals up the Suie hill. I was pretty happy with those two sessions in particular because the work rate and concentration was excellent  The athletes all have things to work on and I believe if they can put those into practise along with continues training they can all make big steps forward this season. All in all a very good couple of weeks but hopefully next time without the pulled hamstring.
Alex 


The Mcstanden blog is still alive..

Well if you have been trying to keep up to date with what's been happening recently in my life then my blog probably hasn't been the place to find out! In fact it has been two years since I properly updated the blog so apologies for that. I did start to write blog posts I just never finished them....
Any way things have actually happened in the last two years but as the team builds up to the Sochi 2014 Olympics I thought it might be important to let people know what's happening. With this in mind Bruce has been doing some fantastic work on trying to promote the British team and the sport which includes team member profiles.


Believe it or not it is all true including Sven Fischer who never wore gloves to compete even when it was bloody freezing. Although I learn't the hard way that at -17 it is advisable to wear gloves to compete in a ski race!

Alex

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Bnds training videos

About a month ago I made some videos of the British Nordic development squad training at Huntly. Some may have already seen them but the links are below. enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHJo2wBHcjY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ly7if7oxbw4&feature=plcp&context=C3ed2220UDOEgsToPDskIlSz7ULbJuwri7YMVIbJ8P

Italy trip (turns into Austria)

Just over a week ago I was meant to be doing a race in Val Gardena, Italy, unfortunately this race was cancelled  meaning that it is 12 months and counting since I did last race. We had travelled to Italy on the Monday but other than some man made snow on the downhill slopes it was lush green grass on the ground. Roger thought that we should stay and just do the tour de ski hill climb every day, you should perhaps know he isn't quite right in the head.  

There had been a race in Seefeld, Austria the weekend before on man made snow and with the forecast showing  lots of snow on the way we decided to move there. Seefeld is just above the Olympic town of Innsbruck and is hosting the first ever youth Olympic games this January so it was a great chance for roger (the one not quite right in the head) to scout out the track and facilities. After struggling to find some apartments to stay in, fortunately Fi's great German prevailed and we were off.


 
Woke up to this view. Cross country trails just beyond the snow.
View down the valley from the apartment in Italy.
When we arrived in Seefeld there was no natural snow on the ground but it had started snowing which was a good sign. Finally I was going to get to skate on snow for the first time since the 22nd of December 2010!
It felt very different skating on snow and I struggled a bit for the first session but with lots of no poles I was slowly getting more of a feel for it.

By now there was snow on the ground and it just wouldn't stop snowing for about 30 hours. The man who helps look after the apartments was determined to keep the snow at bay on the paths around the place which meant doing it every couple of hours which was quite funny to start with. However when he decided to use the snowblower at 7am right outside our window he very quickly deceased to be in the least bit funny and became the conversation of hatred at breakfast. 

With half a meter of snow  it created great trails everywhere up and down the valley. There was over 100km of freshly pisted trails to explore and explore we did. It is such a great feeling skiing on new trails and fresh snow making for some good training sessions.
Fi, Si and katy in snowy Seefeld.
I managed to get ill for a couple of days but with the usual banter from the lads it was good trip. I'm doing a Open University course this year and Platty decided that it was his god given task to harass me about it and make me do it. Probably a good thing as I hadn't done any work for it and had to get an extension for one of the essays.   

Cheers
Alex