Preparing for the Unpreparable
January 12, 2004
By Pat Lorentz
Note: This article is rather lengthy but I feel it is
worth the read. All opinions and recollections of events in
this article are strictly from the author's point of view.
While explaining the American Ski Marathon Trip to various
skiers over the last few months many people asked: "How
do you prepare for something like this?" In this article
I would like to attempt to explain how I have approached this
For starters I would like to note that I realize doing eight
marathons in one season is not physiologically intelligent.
I am not sure if we will even be able to complete all of them,
after all the four of us are pretty inexperienced in the ski
marathon. Last Saturday I was able to get out to Elm Creek
for a nice ski and skied some with Jay Tegeder of St. Paul.
Jay and I talked about the trip and he informed me that he
has done twenty-seven marathons or maybe it was twenty-seven
Birkies alone, I cannot remember, but that would be more than
twice as many marathons then the four of us added together.
Nonetheless, the concept of doing the majority of the American
Ski Marathon Series in one season proved too great of a temptation.
I have had four great ski coaches throughout my ski career
so far. It started in high school where John DeWall and Rick
Wheeler taught me the basics of nordic skiing. John and Rick
also instilled in me a passion for the sport and for racing.
Since Danny, Evan, and Justin are all from Hastings, I imagine
they would say the same about John and Rick. Years later (after
high school) I had the opportunity to coach with these two
individuals and continued to learn more about the sport from
the wax rooms and side lines of ski courses. During the summer
of 2002 I got a chance to coach with Kevin Brochman. While
my role was that of a coach, I was able to learn a great deal
about skate and classic ski technique, as well as the ins
and outs of waxing. Kevin was a tremendous resource and he
really honed and tuned my ski technique from what it had previously
been. This past summer Piotr Bednarski approached me about
coaching biathlon. For those of you who do not know Piotr,
he is running for president of USBA, we need to elect Piotr.
You will not find a more dedicated, knowledgeable, focused,
and enthusiastic candidate anywhere, period. Being a long
time fan of biathlon from years of following Danny, I jumped
at the opportunity. Once again I found myself as a coach,
but felt that I was really growing as an athlete as well.
Piotr spent a great deal of his own time helping me with technique.
I was able to work with him one on one and utilize video analysis
to continue to improve my skiing technique. While I picked
up a few pointers about skiing from Piotr, it was something
he said to me one day this summer that has made the biggest
difference in my training.
Flashback, its mid August, hot as hell, and I am riding
in a fifteen passenger van smelling of sweaty shoes with
a group of biathletes. I sit shotgun and Piotr is behind
the wheel. We had just got done with a three-day high volume
training camp in northern Minnesota. During the camp we
got up at about six every morning ready to put in a three-plus
hour workout and every morning Piotr would wake us with
a smile on his face. "Get up, oatmeal is on the stove",
he would say.
(Here is some free advice: if you ever get in a card game
and Piotr shows up, cash out. Piotr has a great poker face,
or maybe he just doesn't get sore, or maybe it is that his
love for this sport is so great it provides him with unlimited
enthusiasm. Whatever the case is the enthusiasm rubs off
On the way home Piotr and I were talking about the tremendous
success the United States Nordic Ski Team has had over the
past few years. We noted the positive environment and attitudes
of the U.S. Ski Team's coaches and athletes. Piotr mentioned
that sometimes the environment of a team or club is simply
ok, it is not bad but it is not great. Piotr said: "It's
not enough to be just ok, the environment has to be great
or excellent!" Now I know when Piotr said this he did
not intend it to be an eye-opening comment, but when Piotr
said this it was like someone slapped me in the face or
shook me violently. As I reflected on my previous year of
training I realized that my attitude towards training was
ok, my enthusiasm was ok, and my racing was ok. It is not
enough to just be ok, wow! This fall and early winter I
have approached training with a new energy. I think I just
may have been taking training and racing for granted, when
really we are blessed to be healthy enough to train and
For those of you that have read this article hoping to hear
about the actually training for this trip, I will get to that
now. In order to train for a trip like this I needed to get
focused. After three of four meetings with Piotr and a number
of e-mails and phone calls, I had my training plan set up
in mid July. The month of July called for a lot of power and
specific strength. The weekly hours were relatively low due
to the impact of jumps, bounding, etc. ranging from about
ten hours a week to thirteen hours. During these weeks I did
two or three bounding and/or plyometric workouts. Every week
I tried to get one three-hour workout in just to keep my base
up. For specific strength I did a lot of double polling. There
is a hill near my house that takes about five minutes to get
from top to bottom when double polling hard that I utilized
all fall and early winter.
August was a high volume month, mixed with some recovery
of course. Weekly hours for a high volume week ranged from
thirteen to twenty hours and recovery weeks were about seven
hours. During the volume weeks I did some roller skiing, biking,
running, swimming, and bounding. In September Evan and I started
training together almost every day. The addition of a new/old
training partner added some fuel to the training fire. Evan
is a great athlete and the two of us were able to feed off
of each other. In early September I dropped the hours and
revisited the power and specific strength. After this, I hit
another week of volume and a week of recovery. The beginning
of October started with two weeks of intensity. During these
two weeks I mixed in 4 X 10 minute threshold roller ski workouts
with road races. Overall, I did two or three intensity based
workouts in each of these weeks. Outside of these intensity
weeks, I only did one intensity based workout of this nature
during the latter part of October.
The month of November was all about volume, ranging from
fifteen to twenty hours a week with one week of recovery.
The month of November also brought two additional challenges.
First, it was getting dark early. I get off of work at 4 and
start my workouts by about 4:30. In November it was getting
dark by about 5, this meant that Evan and I had to do a lot
of roller skiing in the dark. One night while working on the
double pole hill in the dark, I almost hit a raccoon and later
a cow that had gotten out of a pasture and was walking across
the road. I suppose it could have been worse, when I first
saw the outline of the cow I thought it might be a bear. The
other difficultly came later in the month when my grandpa,
Don Lorentz, lost his battle with kidney cancer. Grandpa Lorentz
was over six feet tall and weighed in at about 230 lbs. He
was a rock; nothing slowed him down. He supported a wife and
eleven children while working as a millwright and a farmer.
He was the foundation of our family and is greatly missed.
If I am so lucky as to have even the smallest fraction of
his strength, I know I will be able to complete every marathon
December started with two weeks of recovery, one at five
hours, the other at ten. After this it was time for a week
of intensity, which meant racing. I was able to get out and
do the New Years Eve and New Years Day races at Trollhaugen.
After the races I returned to the volume getting the last
two volume weeks before the trip. Right now I am just trying
to maintain as I tie up lose ends in my student teaching position
here in River Falls at the Renaissance Academy and in my college
career in general.
Well, that about does it and I hope this was informational.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to
e-mail me and the rest of the MN Marathon Skiers at email@example.com.
Thanks for your time.
*ski with red!