October News Roundup: Jessie Diggins, Team Aker Dæhlie, Dario Cologna, Samantha Smith


It’s been a while since the last news roundup on this site, but now please enjoy some relevant and interesting news from around the nordic world. In brief: Jessie Diggins discusses working through a recurrence of her eating disorder; Team Aker Dæhlie has thoughts on proper training intensity/why you’re probably doing it wrong; Dario Cologna positive splits his way to a 2:28 road marathon (almost as fast as Ian Torchia!); and Samantha Smith competes in the Pan American Games in her “other” sport.

Jessie Diggins discusses her eating disorder in the Washington Post

If you follow American skiing on the internet you probably saw the above Instagram post from Jessie Diggins in mid-September.

“I have something I want to share with you, although it isn’t easy,” the biggest star in American nordic skiing begins, looking directly into the camera. “After 12 really great years of health, I’ve been struggling with my eating disorder this summer. I’m doing quite a lot better now, thanks to my amazing care team, and I reached out to them right away.”

“But I think it’s important to share,” Diggins continued, “because this isn’t a picture-perfect recovery story. It’s real, and it’s raw, and it’s messy, and that’s okay.”

Diggins’s unflinching honesty here frankly pretty much already speaks for itself, to her substantial credit. But she also expanded on these thoughts somewhat in a recent profile in the Washington Post headlined, “The gold medal skier and the eating disorder that hasn’t gone away.”

The article begins — this should give you a sense for the overall tone of it — “Anyone who has watched Jessie Diggins ski in a cross-country race understands her truths. She has an unmatched willingness to push her body in the name of competition. No pain is too overwhelming that it can’t be nudged aside. Exhaustion is an idea that exists only past the finish line, not on the course. And through all the punishment, all the misery, there is pure, unfiltered joy.”

You can read the rest of it here. (Your first article from the Post should be readable for all, but here is an archived version in case you hit a paywall.) Extra points if you can find what’s wrong with the initial photo caption, at least when printed under a photo from 2023 world champs in Planica.

“You are training too hard and will never reach your full potential!,” by Team Aker Dæhlie

I probably don’t need to blurb much more than the headline to encourage you to read the article; Team Aker Dæhlie not only knows more about ski coaching than I do, their clickthrough rates are probably higher than mine, too.

In all seriousness, though, I would describe the linked article as four parts rigorous examination of the actual determination of different training intensities, one part manifesto that, well, you are very likely training too hard, to your detriment.

Or as the authors note in the introduction: “In our experience, the athletes that reach their full potential are those who have made the fewest mistakes during training (and otherwise in everyday life). This means that they have trained the best, not necessarily the most.” The authors contrast a single-minded focus on collecting hours with “ensuring that each training session is of high (and correct) quality.” And, as per the title, they conclude that you are likely training too hard most of the time.

The tone of the piece is respectful and scientific, rather than polemical. There are ample charts and references. You should read it; you will very likely learn something, and at absolute worst will acquire some footnotes and research to support what you already know.

Personally, the single line from this piece that has stuck with me six weeks after I first read it is,

“The effects and benefits of a training session are in many cases better if you train with a lower (correct) intensity. Correct intensity = lowest possible cost to achieve optimal outcome.”

Again, you should read the whole piece, and may do so here. The authors are well-credentialed, and they show their work. You will learn something.

Dario Cologna runs 2:28 in marathon debut

On the one hand, Dario Cologna is not like most mortals. He has four individual Olympic gold medals, for one, including gold in the 15km interval-start race at an unprecedented three consecutive Games across eight years. He also has four overall World Cup crystal globes, four distance globes, and four Tour de Ski wins. I could go on, but his palmarès is clearly redoubtable.

All that said, there is something that Cologna shares in common with a lot of us: going out too fast in his first crack at a road marathon. Cologna ran a 2:28:35 in Berlin last month, which is obviously super fast… but let’s check in on the retired Swiss skier’s Strava for more detail here:

So that’s, in round numbers, a 1:12 first half followed by a 1:16 second half. Marathon debuts have gone far, far more poorly — this reporter split 1:23/1:40 in his first road marathon oops — but this also may be among the more human and relatable things that Cologna, now age 37, has ever done.

“I started a little too fast and it got quite hard towards the end,” the skier wrote on Instagram. Same, Dario Cologna, same.

[Read more: Ian Torchia begins pro athlete retirement by running 2:27 marathon]

Cologna’s 2:28:35 was good for 174th overall in the September 24th race. He finished 39th in his age group, men 35–39; the age group podium here was made up of overall winner Eliud Kipchoge [who is still somehow only 38 years old], Okubay Tsegay, and Jared Ward. It would have taken a 2:11:44 to bring home age group hardware for what in skiing would be classed as the M2 division. Tough crowd.

Samantha Smith represents U.S. in soccer in Pan American Games

Speaking of athletes competing in their “other” sport: By the way, skier Samantha Smith, she of the two World Cup sprint heats in four starts last spring, is also a nationally ranked soccer player. Smith was one of 18 players, including six defenders, named to a roster for the U19 Women’s Youth National Team that is competing at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.

The U19 team is competing against the senior national teams of Bolivia, Costa Rica, and Argentina in group play. So far, the U.S. has beaten Bolivia 6–0 and Costa Rica 3–1 in its first two group-stage games. The U.S. will at this point presumptively advance to the semifinals, which occur on October 31. The gold- and bronze-medal matches, should they advance that far, will be held on November 3.

Smith, like the rest of the American U19 team currently competing in Chile, has yet to enter college. She previously played for the U.S. at the 2022 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, per U.S. Soccer. Smith is committed to play soccer at Stanford following her high school graduation next spring.

— Gavin Kentch

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