Monday, September 12, 2016

What Success Means to Me.

When I graduated from high school I wanted nothing more in life than to be on the US Ski Team and race for the USA at the Winter Olympics. A lot of close friends gave me great advice and encouraged me to go to college. They told me that cross country skiers peak later in life and that I could take advantage of the awesome support that racing in the NCAA as a student athlete could provide both academically and educationally. I loved racing for Northern Michigan University and my coaches Sten and Jenny in Cross Country Skiing and Cross Country Running. I had amazing teammates from all over the country who chose NMU for the same reasons I did and I also had great classmates and roommates who didn't participate in sports but also chose Northern Michigan University. Balancing school and sports wasn't always easy for me but I would never want to have done it any other way. I met so many incredible people, learned so much about myself and was inspired by all of my experiences, both good and sometimes tough, during my time as an NMU Wildcat.

Coach Sten taking a break from his bench press to take a selfie.
Coach Jennie (Now the head CC Running and Track and Field Coach) out on the trails after leading the team in a workout.
Coach Shane fits right in and pushes the team hard.
Northern Michigan University's Athletic Director Forrest Karr and my signed World Championship poster in the Athletic Department.
I used the lessons I learned from being a student-athlete at NMU to help guide me as a professional athlete. It worked! I reached one of my goals by representing the USA at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, BC.  I have qualified for 4 World Championship Teams (including one in Biathlon), won 7 National titles, 4 American Birkebeiners and a World Championship Medal.   Without a doubt these successes would not have been possible without my experience as an NCAA athlete. I do not believe I would have succeeded being a full-time student or a full-time skier independently. Thanks to NMU and NCAA skiing I could do both and be successful!

Coming back to Northern has given me the opportunity to connect with the student-athletes and share my own story. I've learned from many mistakes and good decisions during my career and I see myself in this next group of skiers.  It is my hope that I can offer these athletes words of support, advice or guidance in their pursuit of excellence.  I also hope that they can adopt the long term mindset for success as they see me still enjoying the daily pursuit of ski racing.

Sharing my story as a Northern Michigan University Student-Athlete.
Talking about the Run Club Brian and I started through our In-the-Arena project to help underprivileged and at-risk youth in North Minneapolis.
Sharing my success as an athlete at the highest level since graduating from NMU.
Wildcat Willie was proud too... plus you have to always have a bit of fun

The Boys Getting Stronger Together

The Girls Getting Faster Together

It's been a a great experience so far in Marquette and I love getting to know each of the athletes on the current NMU Team and  CXC Team better and better. We are two Time Trials in and have one more next week before we head back to Minneapolis for a rest week and some work. So far the Time Trials have been going great and I have been feeling really strong. A new concept for me has been to do the time trials and immediately follow them with hard intensity sessions afterwards. It's some of the best mental training I have ever experienced and I have learned to push myself harder than I thought possible after an all out effort. Having the support of the team has made all of my training session these past few weeks better than I could have imagined and I love working with such a professional and driven group of athletes. 

As always the "Cafe" or "MP" now is always filled with great company and lots of fun times.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Back to School in Da UP!

Well almost...although I am back in Marquette and it is the end of August I am actually not going back to school ;) I already finished that. I am in Marquette this fall for Brian and I to get together with the awesome group of athletes up here who are on the NMU and CXC Teams. Both the men's and women's teams are very strong right now and the opportunity to get together with one of the best training groups in the country is hard to pass up! So after finishing up our work with our In-the-Arena project this year and attending our last LNR Camp Brian and I packed up our Subaru and headed North to the Upper Peninsula.

Essential travel day snacks! Also since we will be gone for so long we also had to finish up everything in the fridge. I can get pretty creative when it comes to using up the last of our ingredients in the final days and managed to make awesome curried rice with steak and a fresh salsa made with tomatillos to go with my chips :)
We packed up our house, filled up our car and loaded Lahti into the back seat. 

 As much as we love bringing Lahti on trips and to training camps whenever we can, he wouldn't be allowed to stay with us in the OTC (Olympic Training Center) aka "the dorms," so we dropped him off with his second parents Jim and Vicki who have watched Lahti during the winter for us on many occasions.

Brian and I drove the 7 hours up to Marquette on our off day which meant we could take our time and stop in Hayward to visit with Scott Wilson at Cresthill. We arrived in Marquette just in time to get dinner and settle into our new room for the next couple of weeks. We are staying in Meyland Hall on the 3rd floor and it is incredible nice and quiet! Brian and I are looking forward to not only getting in solid training but also getting in plenty of recovery. We are eating in the dining hall and have been psyched with the incredible healthy options available at every meal. As much as I love cooking I am happy to not have to wash any dishes for the next couple of weeks!

Brian is pleased with his meal!
Tons of fresh fruit and yogurt at every meal.
We are jumping right into training with the NMU and CXC Teams here in Marquette so we join them for every workout. We want to maximize our time training with others and it has been a blast to have a large group of "teammates" everyday. I will say that the training plan is quite familiar to me since I leanred lots from Sten about his training theories and workout philosophies. He has developed an incredible number of athletes throughout his career and his knowledge about ski training is enormous. I have to say a huge Thank You to Sten Fjeldheim, Shane MacDowell and Andy Keller for letting Team Gregg join their teams this fall.

A few things have changed since I left Marquette including the new South Mountain Bike Trails. They are not only some of the best mountain bike trails in the region but also some of the best trails for running I have ever been on.
So Psyched to be training with a large group of ladies.
This spring as I started laying out my training and racing plans for the season I thought a lot about what makes me ski the fastest. One aspect of my training that I was missing last year was having a consistent group of ladies to train with. I met up with the National Team at 3 camps but that meant that the rest of the year I was training mostly alone. This year has been the complete opposite and my training has been much more productive and made me a much happier person. This summer I trained extensively with my LNR teammates and our PG athlete Abby Drach  and now I have another great group of ladies with the NMU/ CXC Teams. The energy and excitement of these groups is contagious and I hope to be able to bring some of my experience and knowledge to practice and the dining hall :) I am also very grateful all of the NMU and CXC Teams have been so welcoming and open to letting us join them. A few photos from various workouts below!

Brian doing Moosehoofs up Marquette, MT. 
Ian, Adam and Brian Bounding.
Brian warming up for strength
Sarah crushing the dead lifts.

weighted dips.
In addition to the awesome trail running, bounding and weight lifting facilities Marquette also has an extensive network of bike paths that have grown extensively since I was a student here. This afternoon was absolutely gorgeous and the ladies and I had a wonderful double pole through town.

Such a nice day.

I am very sore, tired and happy! I am really looking forward to this entire fall training block working towards that Lahti 30K Skate!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Training Update

I have spent a lot of time updating about my In-the-Arena, Community and LNR programs and coaching so far this summer. I have also had a lot of people ask me what my plans are for the upcoming 2016/ 2017 season. My goal for the season is to compete in the 30K Skate at the World Championships in Lahti, Finland this coming March. It's by far my favorite distance and technique and I really like the hilly course in Lahti! 

This summer my focus has been on both my strengths and weaknesses. Skating is by far my better technique but I still have lots of room for improvement!. My goal for the summer was to put in very high volume (around 100 hours/ month) but not a lot of L-4. This meant that my weeks were filled with L-3, Speeds and lots of distance and strength workouts.

Psyched but also a little nervous to go HARD!
I have had a blast attending training camps throughout the Midwest with LNR and even a shorter altitude camp in Park City. Last year I put in many weeks out in Utah and this year I decided to try shorter altitude blocks! So far so good! Although we put in mega hours in Utah I was able to recover and adapt even better than my 3 week blocks in the past.

Logging big hours with the boys.
Working a lot on Speeds and Technique.
Consistency has also been a big theme for me this year on my skis and in the gym. I am once again working with Max Lipset and the Power House gym and the gains have been awesome! 

Lots of core work!
Lots of upper body too!
I have been feeling stronger and fitter than ever with a much more explosiveness. Max even came out to Afton to watch me in my first high intensity session of the year!

Testing lactates. I have gone through a record number of lactate strips this summer dialing in my paces.
 It was a strange feeling to go harder than L-3 for an entire workout but my body responded great.

Max and California were awesome cheerers and videographers!

After months of keeping my intensity in check and being very diligent about my L-3 pacing I have finally entered an intensity period in August. This means that my volume has dropped considerably and I am focusing on quality sessions and recovery. 

I have had great training partners all spring and summer with the LNR crew and this intensity phase has been more of the same! The NMU girls are back in town and they are always psyched to work hard and smart. I love training with them because they have learned the same process that Sten taught me when I was working with him at NMU. and it was fun to get in some track intervals with them! Abby Drach who is headed to Dartmouth this fall is also back from Stratton and has been joining me in almost every workout. 

Sarah, Nichole and Vivian

Ready for some 200's 
Running our dialed paces!
I love running on the track because it can really help you get faster although it's one of the hardest types of workouts to do alone. It's fun to have times you are shooting for and being able to see improvements each workout but company makes the workout fly by. I have been running a lot of longer road and trail races this summer but keeping them in L-3 and testing my lactate after each race to make sure I stayed on task. Finally this block I have been able to enter some 5K's and run them at race pace.

5 K's are short and sweet and by far my favorite.
I helped some of the local neighborhood kids get bikes or fix their old ones so I now have even more training partners. My easy training pace is exactly the same speed as a 6 year old on their bike so we have some fun recovery sessions with Jazeer and Mikey.
Ready for our ride!
We head over to Wirth Park and look for animals.

So far we have seen an otter, turtles, ducks and fish on our workouts!
As Jazeer and Mikey bike more and more they are getting more brave about riding on the Mt. Bike trails and even taking some jumps.

Even though skating is my big focus this year I have still been working a lot on my weaknesses. Double poling has long been a struggle for me but after almost a year of constant work it is starting to come around. I think being stronger has helped but putting a lot of focus into technique and having some strong double poling ladies in the country to follow has made the biggest difference.
Double Pole position last September.
Double Pole position this July.
I am happy with my training so far and I am really looking forward to putting in more volume and less intensity this coming month. Brian and I are heading up to Marquette, MI for a few weeks and I am looking forward to getting out with the NMU and CXC Teams everyday. I love Marquette and it will be fun to have a large group of talented athletes and of course Sten and Andy Keller to work with again.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Massive Utah Photo Blog

After spending so many weeks living in Park City last year with the US Ski Team I was thrilled to bring my Loppet Nordic Racing (LNR) Teammates out to Utah to enjoy the epic training and weather. The goal of the camp was to put in huge volume (40 hours!) and learn how our bodies respond to the altitude while throwing in a few key intensity sessions to mimic the week of US Nationals in 2017 that will serve as the qualifiers for World Juniors that will be held at the same venue.
Crushing the almost 12,000 ft Mt. Timpanogos after a massive training block.
The girls 5K/10K Time Trial crew. The skate time trial was a major focus for the week.
Before the fun (or training) could start we first had to complete a massive grocery run!
 The camp was the 3rd of 4 training camps this summer for the LNR competition team. We had 25 athletes and 4 coaches attend the camp and everyone who came was ready to put in some serious work and push their limits. The coaches were Piotr Bednarski, Drew Holbrook, Brian and myself. Although we were there as coaches Brian and I were also there to train and thanks to Drew and Piotr we were able to put in all the time that we needed as well as get the rest and recovery to maximize each session because these guys were awesome supporters! Drew spent countless hours shopping, cooking, teaching yoga and watching over the group. Thanks Drew and Piotr for helping us kick butt!

Drew supporting the group from the Bike.
Team Gregg and Piotr 
Since we were in Utah for only 10 days we maximized our time by hitting up only the best training venues and routes. Since we have lots of rolling terrain in the Midwest we headed straight for the hills. With endless canyons and mountains to summit we made sure to hit a peak almost everyday!

The boys about to head up Empire Pass for a 3.5 hour morning distance session.
Heading through downtown Park City before the climb.
Working together.

Girls at the summit of Empire Pass.
Boys at the summit of Empire Pass.
One of the best parts of returning to Park City was connecting with the Wasatch Nordic Team and the Nordic Combined Team once again!  It was awesome to have some locals open up their schedules and show us some new training locations. A huge thank you to Bill Hokkansen for being an incredible host and support staff as well as Brian Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher, Adam Loomis and Ben Loomis for sharing their workouts and stories about Nordic Combined!

Maddie Morgan of the Wasatch Ski Academy leading the LNR ladies on an afternoon running adventure.
Always having fun.
Exploring new trails.
Getting new peaks.
All ears listening to the Fletcher brothers talk.
The Fletcher brothers training with the LNR girls.
The group after the pre-race workout.
 Although we were training a lot we also wanted to dial in some intensity sessions at Soldier Hollow. We decided to race a 10K/ 15K skate time trial similar to the one the USST held last October. We had an enormous group of athletes with the Wasatch crew joining us once again. Thanks to all that came out to help organize, time and photograph the event.

The Ladies!
The ladies and their coaches Bill and Piotr!
Maddie and Hannah

Margie and Mikayla

Annika finishing strong.
I was pretty excited to set a new PR on the course from last October :)
Xavier crushing it!
Happy ladies post race.
My favorite part of training with LNR is that we all work together everyday. We all follow the same training plan, we all cook and eat our meals together and we all push each other and learn from each other constantly.
Enjoying dinner on the back deck.
Occasionally we ran out of bowls and had to improvise.
One of the biggest highlights of the trip was having Noah Hoffman from the US Cross Country Team and Gold Medalist Billy Demong join us for dinner. They each shared motivational stories and advice as well as cute photo opportunities.
The girls seemed to look extra nice for this dinner ;)
This camp marked the last camp for 12 of my girls group who are heading off to college this fall. I am so proud of these ladies for stepping up their training and recovery and I can't wait to follow their progress this winter!
Mikayla found my photo in the COE. A big Thank You to Robert Lazzaroni for giving us a tour of the Center of Excellence and letting us get an awesome strength workout in!
Love these gals! They bought me a massive Kombucha :)
Never leave your phone downstairs during your nap!
I am going to miss these ladies!
Our final day brought us to Mt. Timpanogos for a long OD Run/ Hike. The highlight was reaching the summit and having Brian lead us down the snow field on the return. It was hot and nothing felt better than sliding down the glacier in July!

Navigating the rocky trail.
Excited to be back on snow.
Learning to glissade.
We are now back in the Twin Cities and attending regular LNR practices. After a huge volume block we took a couple days to relax and recover. 

Coach Chris Harvey giving instructions for our speed session.
Group Stretch afterwards.