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Bailey + Eric: Rest + Run + Refuel

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Ready to get started with Bailey + Eric as they prepare to ski their first BIRKIE? Us, too! Let's check in with Bailey to see how these two Minnesotans will begin training for the cross-country skiing season without snow, squeezing in workouts between attending to patients and fueling up with Chai granola.


With that, let's get to it.




 


bailey + eric


The No Snow Dilemma


As we write this, there are 89 days left until Eric and I compete in our first American Birkebeiner. As I’m writing this, there is also no snow on the ground in Duluth, MN.

Believe it or not, it feels a bit difficult to train for a 50-kilometer ski race when it is not currently possible to ski. What are we doing while we anxiously await a base layer of snow to fall and the piston bullies to start packing down that sweet, sweet snow?


Well, we’re staying active, fueling our bodies, running and allowing ourselves to catch a break when we need it.




 


bailey + eric


Keep Training Light-Hearted, But Also...Run



Eric and I have both been running quite frequently this shoulder season. During the summer months, we spend more time pedaling than running. Now, with the freeze-thaw-rain cycle in full effect, mountain bike trails are closed more often than they’re open, and even the gravel isn’t very fun to ride, leaving one wet, cold, and with a very gritty chain.


Running has felt right during this time of year when the mornings are crisp and quiet, and both roads and trails have their days to shine.


We haven’t set a particular Birkie training plan for ourselves yet, and we may never do so. We try hard to keep our sports fun, light-hearted, and truly something we enjoy doing. Sometimes a rigid training plan feels unforgiving and turns something we love into a chore. However, we set loose goals and try to hit targets throughout the season to ensure that we will be ready, come February.





 


bailey + eric


The Run



We’re currently running using a similar progression to the marathons we have run in the past. Preparing for the BIRKIE, we might follow something similar:

  • 3-4 shorter skis (30 minutes up to 1.5 hours) throughout the week, with one long ski each weekend.

  • One of the shorter skis will likely consist of structured intervals, skating our fastest for a minute and then slowing down for a minute or two, over and over again.

  • Another one of the weekly short ski sessions will focus on technique, trying to convince our brains and bodies to work together seamlessly.

  • We will increase our long-ski distance week by week, hopefully peaking at 40-45 kilometers a couple weeks before the birkie.


Without snow, we are running on this same schedule. About 2-3 times a week we will run 3-5 miles, sometimes with our dog, a somewhat overweight wheaten terrier. We often have to work harder to motivate the dog to run, as she sometimes requires one of us to be running, longboarding, or biking slightly ahead of her to convince those little legs to move faster than a slow lope. 🐶


On days that we don’t work, we go on longer runs, usually based on time. I tend to ski a little over 4 minutes per kilometer. I would like to start the ski season able to ski twenty kilometers, which should take me somewhere close to an hour and a half. Therefore, right now I’m working on building up my running endurance to about 90 minutes per long run.




 


bailey + eric


The Other Things


Eric has been running too, but due to a Morton’s neuroma that causes him pain if he runs too much, he has been incorporating a bit more off-season cycling into his weeks. He has a more active job and commutes everywhere by bike, creating more movement and exercise in his day-to-day life.


Eric has also been able to take advantage of a weekly fitness session offered by our local Duluth cross-country skiing organization (DXC). At each fitness session, the group does ski-specific workouts for an hour that are strength and endurance-focused. The classes have inspired Eric to repurpose a mismatched set of broken ski poles into a dryland training set, and he has started to incorporate “moose-hoofing” and “bounding” into his runs.


Eric will also be able to participate in Duluth XC’s adult winter programming this year, an 8-week class that focuses on teaching adults proper Nordic technique. I completed the program last year, and in two weeks alone, I shaved about one minute per kilometer off of my skate skiing pace. Granted, I didn’t know the difference between V1 and V2 when I started, but they taught me fast!


I often struggle to slow my workouts down and focus on technique and form.

I wasn’t able to participate in the group class due to my schedule at work, but I have been focusing on strength and stability training this off season. I often struggle to slow my workouts down and focus on technique and form, instead trying to get the work done as fast as possible, or only doing cardio work.


I have been using Nike’s free app, Nike Training, and following a few of their programs this fall. This has allowed me to workout when I can, with whatever equipment I might have, with my phone as my class instructor. Sometimes that means working out in our residency room at the hospital, in my scrubs, hoping that I don’t get paged to a patient’s room while I’m sweating!




 


bailey + eric


The Re-Fuel



In addition to our exercise programs, Eric and I are trying to make conscious decisions about how we fuel our bodies. We are both vegetarian, so filling our plates with fruits and vegetables usually isn’t a problem. However, with how active we can be, it is sometimes difficult to get enough calories into our bodies to replenish and nourish them. Though we don’t track macros or count daily protein intake, we do intentionally include a source of protein and fat into every meal and we focus on eating real foods, rather than those that have been heavily processed.


What this often looks like for us is eating eggs full of veggies, potatoes, and cheese every morning; cheese, bread, hummus, peanut butter, granola, and yogurt for lunch; and some sort of home cooked meal for dinner. Lately we have been eating a variety of squashes stuffed with farro, barley, or quinoa; vegetarian chili or bean soup; and whole wheat pasta mixed with mushrooms, spinach, and cheese of some sort. We have found good tips and tricks for athletes in Run Fast, Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes by Elyse Kopecky and Shalene Flanagan and Meals on the Run by Joanna Sayago Golub. We try to have intentional snacks on hand too – often munching on pears, homemade granola, trail mix, and homemade peanut butter energy balls before and during workouts.

 

  • One of our favorite granola recipes to stay fueled:

 

  • Bailey and Eric’s morning scramble:  

½ cup chopped onion 

½ cup chopped vegetables of your choosing (ours often consists of peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini) 

1-2 gloves of garlic minced 

1 cup of chopped spinach 

An ample amount of olive oil

Salt 

Pepper

4 eggs

½ cup White cheddar cheese curds (or whatever cheese you have on hand)

2-3 small red potatoes 


Poke your potatoes with a fork and microwave 2-3 minutes, until they are tender. Chop cooked potatoes into cubes. Heat your olive oil in a frying pan, then add the potatoes. While the potatoes are frying, chop your other vegetables. Add your onion, peppers, and zucchini and cook until translucent. Add mushrooms and spinach and fry until wilted. Salt your veggies now! Toss garlic in until fragrant. Crack your eggs into a bowl or directly into the pan, depending on your confidence. Add cheese curds or cheese of your choice and combine until cheese is melted and eggs are thoroughly scrambled. Salt and pepper, add hot sauce, and enjoy! We usually serve our egg scramble with toast, homemade jam, and an orange. 



 





 


bailey + eric


The Rest


Our summer was perhaps the most active one we’ve ever had, and our schedule was packed full of races, camping trips, and adventures with friends. We want to take this time of cold weather and early nights to focus on nourishing our bodies through active recovery, a light-hearted approach to our running so we will be ready to push hard once that snow finally flies!  



 


the closer What We're Thinking About.

We've got plans to do a movement analysis with Bailey and Eric's early-season skate technique to help them achieve their skiing goals for the BIRKIE. Should be fun and helpful for anyone looking to learn more about skate skiing and the ways technique can impact your skiing journey.

Takk

Jenn + Kevin





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