Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Return

Before I get into my blog, I have to tell you that the response to my upcoming fundraiser on Nov. 2 has been fantastic! Check out my Team Lenny event page on Facebook.
www.facebook.com/teamlennyvaljas  We have sold half the tickets in about a week!!! If you're in Toronto, hope to see you there!

Okay, Blog time:

Sometimes things just work out better than expected.
My recovery from knee surgery has taken much longer than anyone anticipated. Since July, I've had to do tons of physio for my knee and I've had to miss out on a lot of adventures this summer. not to mention cardio training. It was hard but I committed to do exactly what the therapists and doctors recommended and not rush the healing process. My amazing friends in Canmore have been very supportive and have helped me to remain positive.
Now, 12 weeks deep into recovery I am more ready than ever to get back training because I've done almost no cardio this entire time. In all honesty, this knee surgery and the time I had to take off to recover, could have been the best thing for my skiing! We will have to wait and see. I had a really fatiguing World Cup season last year and I could feel it's toll on me during our two early season camps, although my fitness was good I just felt exhausted and it's tough to have fun when you feel like that. I needed a break from training to let my body completely reset and start fresh and rested. The only way to do that is with forced rest, like an injury or surgery. As athletes it's very hard to rest, most athletes feel guilty taking extended periods of time off because they think their "competition" is training hard all the time. This is not the case, trust me. Without the proper rest you will not ski fast, period. I have always forced myself to rest both mentally and physically, but with this being an Olympic year I probably wouldn't have given myself the rest I needed after last season. That's why I'm so positive right now. I feel completely rested and ready to go. There is nothing wrong with taking a week off, completely, from training and doing whatever you feel like. I would ask your coach for permission first, they don't love it when athletes just go off the grid for a week unexpectedly, trust me haha. Anyways, this is getting too heavy... 

I started roller skiing this week, knee feels good and I am really looking forward to getting back to normal training with my teammates. 
We have our next training camp starting tomorrow, in California!! I cant wait to get reunited with the whole team again. 

First intensity session since surgery

I was going a little crazy doing the same physio routine in Canmore, I needed a change. I decided to head home for almost two weeks to see the entire family for the first time since November. 
My cottage is my happy place, when the whole family is together, there is no place I would rather be. 
bro, and sis... the best!
Austin making sure stina is ready for her next FIVB World Tour stop

stina kicked our butts... fairly expected 

2 please 

Austin on the boat, our cottage in the background. 

Lastly, I miss my truck. Had to sell "Betty" a few days ago since I'm off to Europe soon. 
She was the best, always getting me to physio on time. Also, commuting on a bike around town is tougher than it looks. I miss her more and more with every pedal stroke ;) 

Isn't she pretty?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Knee Recovery and Oregon

After our second training camp of the summer in Bend, OR I rushed back to Canmore to have my knee surgery the next day. I have been dealing with a bad knee for almost 5 years now, but lately it was bothering me more and more. The surgery went well but it's too early to tell if it's made a difference. Recovery so far has been a slow and boring process, the first week was for sure the toughest. I am so used to being active and always on the move, keeping myself busy, so to be stuck lying down icing almost all day was pretty much the worst kind of torture for me.  After getting through the first week, I was given the green light to start physio and walking. The team set me up with a really amazing physio in Calgary to help me get better. I am making sure that I am doing everything I can since this is a pretty serious setback. I have been working with Kevin Wagner at the Calgary Olympic Park, this guy is the real deal, he is so knowledgeable and I have no doubt he will leave me stronger than I have ever been.  The first day of physio made me feel a bit discouraged…I was barely able to do a half squat with 25 lbs total… It’s a demoralizing feeling when your brain is telling the muscle to fire but nothing happens. I have been working hard and my knee is slowly improving. I am now able to do some uphill walking, spinning on a bike and half-squats on a wall with body weight.
This past week I travelled down to Pacific City, Oregon for a surf trip with my little brother.

I wasn’t doing much surfing, I was more there for moral support for Austin in the water. I had so much fun teaching him how to surf and watching how fast he picked it up.

One of the days I rented a kayak to do some paddling intensity to try and save some of my fitness. After intensity I took the kayak into the surf and caught some really fun waves. It's crazy how big the waves feel when you are sitting in a kayak. It was intimidating looking up at the waves and realizing that I don’t really know what I’m doing in a kayak. I had a few close calls in the kayak...I'm sure a few kids had their life flash before them when my kayak was careening towards them. Somehow I managed to keep stay upright and not injure any kids all day.
One of the days when the surf was small I had a the idea to build a 100ft waterski rope and tie it to the back of my car and attempt to tow Austin on his surfboard. After a few tries we finally were able to get him going!
Pacific City is such an amazing little surf town, if you can get over the freezing water it is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever surfed.

We found this shark on our morning beach bike ride! It was really cool to see this beautiful animal up close. I glad we didn’t get this close in the water!
Now I am back to physio here in Canmore until I am cleared to start doing my regular ski training again. It has been a nice break from normal training. I worked really hard all summer and I know I can get my fitness back in no time when my knee feels stronger. The main priority right now is just making sure my knee is completely healed so I don’t prolong my recovery. 

Breaking News: I was given the Ok to go stand up paddling this morning, felt awesome to be back on the water!!

Friday, July 19, 2013


 Well, it's been a little while since my last update… I don’t even know where to start.

Let's see, after a disappointing World Championships, and the final World Cup races of the season, I had to regroup and focus for one last event: Canadian Nationals. Looking back, I still remember how physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted I was. I had never felt like this before. The only race I could manage to do, was the Sprint. My warmup that morning felt brutal and I tried hard to stay focused on the race when all I felt like doing was putting my skis away and calling it a season.  Another thing I remember from that day is how ridiculously hot it got. After each heat, I would go to the ski chalet, find some scissors and cut a little more material off my race suit. For the final heat I had shorts and short sleeves.

The A final was delayed 15 minutes to deal with a protest, and during that delay, the sun must have gone behind some clouds because all of a sudden I was frozen. I guess I was a little too scissor happy. Once the race did get under way I was struggling to find kick. I had to dig deep on the 2010 Olympic course just to stay with Graham, Phil, and Jess on the long climbs. Once I made it to the top of the course just ahead of those guys I knew my skis were fast enough and the race was mine to lose. I held on through the slop and slush to claim my third National Sprint Championship! 

After hanging up the skinny skis for the season, I was really enjoying Whistler. It was great to be at Nationals to see all my friends and family. I especially think it's important for National Team members to ski and chat with young aspiring athletes whenever possible. This year our team met with fans a few times during World Cup stops in Quebec, Canmore, as well as at Nationals in Callaghan Valley. It was fun to hang out with some of the young fans!

I couldn't be in Whistler and not go alpine skiing. I was able to unleash my new downhill boards and rip some turns on my favorite mountain. 
Austin dared me to hit the big one

This season felt like a very, very long one. Looking back I probably raced a little too much for a sprinter (30 races). As far as I know, I am the only man or woman this year that raced at every stop on the World Cup circuit, including every stage in the Tour de Ski. Haha, maybe next year I'll take a little more rest, so I don’t completely fall apart at the end of the season.
Post-Nationals everyone knows where to find me. Maui. I love that place. This year I spent 6 amazing weeks there and had visits from my family and so many good friends! Lots of great memories.
Rugged West Maui

This is why I'm getting good at repairing boards, party wave anyone?!!
Never turn down an invitation to a party wave
When on the side of a huge cliff, maintain as many points of contact as possible

Jaws... Yeah, I snorkeled that

The best! stina came to visit me!
Ho'okipa Beach park. My happy place. 
this can barely be considered camping...
Queen air mattress that the truck fills up, sheets, and duvet..

Training has been going great so far this summer. We have had 2 training camps in Bend, and lots of quality training in Canmore. Soon we'll be heading to New Zealand for on-snow training and some racing. My mom just reminded me that I have a new record this year. I've been living out of a suitcase since Nov. 5. That is a long time, and I don't think I could have done it if I didn't have the best teammates, coaches and support staff as friends. 
Bend camp 1, snuck out for a day of surfing in Pacific City

Last week I had a scope surgery done on my knee. Everything should be fine, it's just been a tough week recovering. I don't think I've ever sat still for this long in my life. My stand paddle board is just teasing me sitting in the garage. It will be a few more weeks before I am back doing real training, but until then I will be rehabbing my knee as much as possible.

BTW Keep the date: Nov. 2, 2013 There will be a special event in Toronto to support my Olympic quest. More details to come.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

World Champs fail

A week before World Championships I was feeling great. I stayed healthy and had a really good block of training at the pre-worlds altitude camp in Italy. A good example of my shape was at the Davos World Cup, I was able to come back from a 6 second standstill/pileup on the first big climb in the 1/4 final, when I was able to finish 2nd and move on to the next rounds. I finished in 6th in the Davos World Cup sprint, which is exactly where I wanted to be 5 days before the big sprint at Worlds.

Unfortunately, the day after Davos, my streak of being healthy all winter came to an end in a big way. I was diagnosed with strep throat and was put on antibiotics right away. I felt really achy for a couple days and started to feel better the day before the World Champs sprint. I decided to give the race a shot, since I have been preparing for this race for two years. Turns out my body was not ready fast enough to compete with the other skiers... I didn't qualify and left the race site pretty disappointed. The qualifier really hurt my lungs. I pushed as hard as I could, maybe a little too hard. My lungs never recovered, I caught some sort of chest cold that put me back in bed... So there I was sitting in bed watching hours of movies and tv shows and watching my teammates racing on TV. Since I was the alternate for the team sprint, I had to do some race prep intensity the day before the team sprint. I felt like my energy and snap was coming back but the lungs were still not great. I thought I was finally coming out of this sickness when I was hit with the final phase of the "disease week". The next thing I knew I couldn't talk anymore... Now I had laryngitis for 2 days. By this point I was finding all of this pretty funny. It's not often I get this sick for 9 days straight. It felt like every morning there was a new symptom to deal with. All I could do was laugh... 
So my Worlds this year was pretty much a complete write-off. It was great to have my parents there with me during the championships, nothing beats having your mom around to take care of you when you are sick. ;)
My mom and I on a mission to find a decent Cappuccino in Cavalese  
Our team had a good championship. For sure, the three highlights for me were Alex's boss skiing in the sprint coming home with his first individual World Championship medal! Ivan's stellar 4th place finish in the 15km skate race! And finally Devon and Alex coming within inches of another team sprint medal. 
This ended up being a really disappointing World Championship for me. It was tough to deal with all that illness when I have been training hard for two years for this one week. Life goes on, and I have to remember that is still just ski racing. These things happen and there will be many more opportunities for me to reach my goals in skiing.

Papa Valjas refueling getting ready for more racing 

Babs at the awards with his 4th place finish! 

Bronze for Alex!

Espresso time?

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