More on weight training

Some day I’ll be able to pull this thing!- by H. Barron

Some more thoughts on weight training, to follow-up on my thoughts from a few days ago–

I like to err on the side of more physical power and a little less top end speed, and I do not fool myself about where my teams weaknesses lay. Another way of putting that is that I know exactly what I’m training the team to specialize for; long distance events, 350 miles and over.

So when I’m making my decisions, and not just stuff relating to weight training, I’m really focused on the particular gate that I’m going to be traveling in for 99% of the time, which happens to be an extremely fast trot, and also my own personal competitive racing style which happens to be conservative to the point of absurdity for the first 200 miles, then big pushes (in terms of distance) at the same or similar speed for the rest of the race, hopefully all of the way to the finish line.

And when you look at what my racing style really is like and how methodically I stick to my plans, never EVER letting them go over the 10 mph barrier unless I’m making the last push to the finish line, then you can see why I’m unafraid of leaning a bit to the over-working end of the spectrum.

With that said, I want to point out that you can get a lot of low end muscle built and work ethic reinforced with a lot less repetition then most people think, and that for most people heading for distance events this season no more than 1/8 of their total sled runs should be focused on a maximum loadout, and that the rest of the runs should be roughly whatever they think they are going to have in their sleds+20-40 lbs.

Also, when I’m looking at my weight training, I’m looking very very carefully at just what I’m trying to accomplish in terms of muscle gain & work ethic, and once I’ve reached the point where I have attained my goals, I am very quick to back off and teach the dogs some new skill sets and only return to heavy loads as ‘refresher courses’. Remember, and this is a really important concept, that there is a very fine line between teaching your team to work really hard, and teaching them to walk.

And while most people, even distance mushers, consider traveling at 9.5-10 mph to be extremely slow, I do not.

Consider this: I’ve been unable to find reliable evidence anywhere that any 300+ mile race has ever been won/completed with anything better than a 9.5-10 mph moving average from start to finish. Not the Beargrease, Race to the Sky, Copper Basin, Klondike, Kusko (okay, maybe the 2011 Kusko), etc, etc. Of course the operative word here is better. And factually, most competitive race finishes in this mileage category are a lot lower.

(And to forestall the inevitable comments of ‘What?! Didn’t Kieth Aily just do the Beargrease a few years back at over 11.5 mph? Jason, you yourself did the ’08 Marathon at over 11 mph!’ I’ll just say that both of these examples are based on DRAMATICALLY overinflated course mileages. For instance, in my ’08 Beargrease the mph average was in reality around, you guessed it, 9.5 mph. Sorry gang, but they went ahead and invented this little device called a Global Positioning Device, and boy is this pesky little thing all about bursting our balloons!)

So, when you look at it, while I consider the style of training I employ to fall under the category of ‘marching’, it’s actually deceptively fast…maybe as fast as it’s really possible to do these sorts of races no matter how badly we would all like to run them faster. Just take a good long look at the current top racers (such as Baker’s record setting win in this years Iditarod)–essentially, this is the current industry “standard”.

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow….


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