Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Long Distance-a WWDIS book report

Bill McKibben is most famous as an environmental author(End of Nature), but back in 97/98, he decided to try and become a top level cross country skier. The book Long Distance is subtitled "testing the limits of body and spirit in a year of living strenuously".
This book shows that all endurance sports have more in common than not, and it was cool to see training principles filtered through a sport other than cycling. All the same principles apply -massive lsd base miles, intervals, shedding weight, suffering, and, of course, funny clothes and lusting after tech gear.
A book about a regular dude struggling in racing hits close to home and a lot of his points rang true.
For instance most endurance sports are as much about "enduring" the mental pain and self doubt and pushing past your limits as just suffering through the physical pain.
Second, to train for anything is to be pretty selfish-you focus on you and your performance. Train and recover. Repeat. Everything else gets shoved to the side, but the flipside is when you compete-you get humbled. So it is an odd combo of self-absorption and getting constantly dope slapped with reality. Anyone who has trained hard and got the DNF can relate to that.
The stories about racing in Norway are pretty amusing. Especially the cool historical angle. Learn about Birkebeiners and why people wear weighted back packs.(nint-google "infant king Haakon") XC skiing in Norway is like cycling in Belgium. Cool parallel world.

Key quote #1 "Everyone likes chips.... but..Fat has no propulsive capability"-coach Rob. No propulsive capapbility-like my fat ass.
XC skiers obsess over wax the way cyclocross nerds obsess over tire pressure-again a parallel world.
Good book. There are some non athletic aspects of this book that make it an above average read.(kind of like Ten Points, but no unhinged parents)Better than getting bummed out reading about global warming and maybe good enough to make you want to try cross country skiing.... I think I will stick to snow shoes though.
If you can't find it at a bookstore or library, there is a place called amazon that will probably have it for cheap.

No comments: