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.
Take the long view.
There are no wasted training days for Demong and the rest of his Nordic Combined teammates. Everything about their training program is carefully mapped out – the type of workouts, goals, frequency, and intensity – and divided into two different cycles.
"We look at cycles: micro cycles being weeks within months, and macro cycles being months within years," Demong says.
Those cycles vary primarily based on two things: the time of year and the time until the Olympics. Think training for triathlons, but only competing in one every four years, with sprint triathlons mixed in during the years in between. The result would be one long-term plan, with other smaller and more-focused plans mixed in.
"Our training schedule generally goes in quads," Demong explains. "So you look at the first year after the Olympics being the big, big volume year." That means less of a focus on results and more on big-picture growth. "Then we increase volume starting after the Olympics and build that up for two years." And then the final year – this year – is all about a focus on quality as the team heads into the final stretch before the games.
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