Billy Demong, America's first-ever gold medal winner in the Nordic Combined, the Olympic event combining cross-country skiing and ski jumping, is looking to repeat in Sochi. We asked Demong to share his training secrets – how to gauge the perfect intensity level for every workout, why time off is essential, how to lift weights for endurance – and explain how amateur winter athletes can learn from his success.
Recovery is everything.
Despite his insistence on going the extra mile, Demong says that the key to high-level performance is knowing when to call it quits – by taking rest periods, that is. He says that idea is not only crucial, but also among the least understood by non-Olympians. "Amateurs have the hardest time with taking time off," he says. "People get into endurance sports and there's suddenly a feeling that running gives them, a feeling that training gives them, and they want to do more and more."
Demong knows that when you reach peak conditioning, it's important to recover and let yourself heal so you can reap the benefits of all your hard work come race day. "A lot of times, I'll try to help someone get ready for a marathon, and the last couple of weeks, they're always like 'What do you mean I shouldn't be running these days,' " he says. "They don't realize that they've already done the work; now they just need to rest and recover."
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