I arrived back from our Germany training camp two weeks ago to find fall in full swing here in the Adirondacks. With the near freezing overnight temperatures and beautiful fall foliage, it is a good reminder that winter — and the racing season — are just around the corner!
Our Germany training camp was a big success. I feel like I was able to get in three solid weeks of training at some of the best venues in the world. For the first two weeks of our camp we were located south of Munich in the small Bavarian town of Ruhpolding. Ruhpolding is situated right at the start of the Alps so the scenery and training opportunities there are pretty much perfect. We spent nearly every morning at the biathlon venue in Ruhpolding working on biathlon specific training, and for the afternoons we were able to get out for some great running and biking in the mountains.
During our first week of camp I had the opportunity to travel to Puttlingen, Germany for the Odlo City Biathlon Race. I was originally hesitant to go to this race because I was wary of the extra travel. I also had some bad experiences in the past when I mixed training camps with racing, but this year I decided to go for it. My coaches and I decided that it would be a great opportunity to practice real race situations with other top athletes and 20,000 spectators watching. Even with the long travel, I am happy that I decided to race. The race was far from my best, but it was a great reminder of what I am actually training for this winter. I spend so much time training by myself or with a small group here at home that it was definitely a bit of shock to be thrown onto the big stage. No matter how we try and duplicate race situations during training, nothing can actually compare to the real thing. I left Puttlingen reminded that biathlon is all about your ability to execute your plan without being distracted by the crowds or other competitors. Here is a link to the highlights of the race. If you watch the last shooting stage you can see that I let myself get pulled out of my routine for the last two shots of the race. Hopefully by making that mistake in the summer, I can avoid it in the winter!
For our third and final week of camp we traveled to Oberhof, Germany. Like Ruhpolding, Oberhof is one of Germany's big biathlon centers with some incredible training facilities. Besides the normal roller ski tracks, Oberhof is also home to one of the world’s few indoor ski venues. Because of this, Oberhof has become a common stop for many national ski and biathlon teams looking for on-snow skiing during the summer months. The tunnel has uphills, downhills, turns, transitions and everything else that you would normally find on a winter ski trail. The only downside to the tunnel is that one loop only takes around 5 minutes, so a 2.5 hour ski can get a little repetitive! Nevertheless, it felt great to get back on snow and work on some new technique ideas. Oberhof also allowed us another opportunity to test skis before the competition season starts. It seems that we end up competing more and more now on artificial snow during the winter, so the tunnel gives us a great chance to test in these conditions.
After three straight weeks on the road it felt great to return home, even if summer left while I was away. I am only home for another couple of weeks before we take off for a training camp in Utah. These few weeks at home will be my last real extended stay until next spring! Because of that, I am trying to get in as much family time as possible between training sessions.
With the competition season right around the corner, I am feeling good about the training I was able to accomplish this summer. I was lucky to stay relatively injury free so I was able to train a lot since May 1. It's always hard to predict exactly how things will go once racing starts but I look forward to finding out!