Welcome! My name is Michael Gilday and I am a Short Track Speedskater from Yellowknife, NWT, Canada. I currently train at the National Training Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I've created this blog primarily to let family and friends know about competitions and travel. I also hope to educate a bit about short track and maybe even entertain. Enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

5 Reasons Why Font-Romeu is Awesome

I'm back. In Canada that is. The whole team arrived safely back in Canada on Friday from what proved to be an amazing camp. For me, it was probably my best ever camp. Coming out of this camp I feel like I am in a great place physically, far ahead of where I was last year, but most importantly, motivated and excited to keep training this summer.

Here are 5 reasons why I thought Font-Romeu was/is awesome.

1. The training centre has everything.

Olympic sized arena, running track, inline speed skating track, soccer fields, swimming pool, weight rooms, gyms, medical support and from there you can access a myriad of fairly tale like roads for biking that wind infinitely through the valley.

2. The setting is beautiful

For me it was the perfect setting. The town is nestled on the side of a mountain and looks over a large valley towards Spain. You are surrounded by nature and mountains with trails to explore and viewpoints to relax at. Clouds roll through the valley, the sun paints the mountains red in the evening. Beautiful.

3. The town creates an ideal training environment

Font-Romeu has only a few thousand habitants. As you can imagine, there isn't a whole lot going on. But this is perfect for training. It means that for the most part, all you can do is train or recover. No distractions.

4. Altitude.

The town sits at around 1800m, and the training centre is slightly higher than that allowing us to take advantage of the thin air to boost the value of our hard work.

5. The general atmosphere.

A laid back mountain vibe permeates from every part of the region. Small, quaint, family run restaurants and shops. The town shuts down on Sunday, and most of Monday. Street corner food vendors selling products they have made themselves. Beauty.

I could go on and on about how I loved Font-Romeu. It simply was the perfect place for us to put in some hard early summer training and set up the rest of the season. I hope to be back someday, road bike in tow, in order to explore some mountain climbs and explore the region without being obligated to feel good for the next days training.

The view from our balcony....

                                                              on a cloudy/rainy day...

                                                                    in the evening...

                                                         and first thing in the morning.

The training centre.

Lastly, watch this. Its a video made my Cameron Sylvester of the Canadian Rowing Team. Mega inspiring. 

Inside The Olympic Dream from cameron sylvester on Vimeo.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Today, I present to you a post about jet lag. Seeing as I am currently overseas attending a training camp in the beautiful mountain town of Font-Romeu, France, I figured a post about the joys of jet lag and some of my own personal strategies on how to best beat it would be appropriate.

So first, what is jet lag? Jet-lag occurs when you a quickly transported to another time zone that is either far ahead or behind the one you currently reside in. Therefore, your circadian rhythm is thrown off and your body thinks that it is day when in fact, it is night, or vice versa. The primary symptoms of jet-lag are not being able to sleep and the side-affects of sleep loss or sleep deprivation such as lack of energy, grumpiness and general lethargy. Although not being able to sleep, or feeling sleepy in the middle of the day is never any fun, it is especially troublesome for athletes as we need to be fully alert and awake in order to perform at our highest levels. It is for this reason that many athletes have spent much time and effort coming up with strategies to combat the effects of jet-lag.

Everyone has their own best method. Some swear by staying up late the night before traveling. Others like to use copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake upon arrival. Some prefer to turn to the brilliance of modern pharmaceuticals and use sleeping pills or melatonin to help them sleep when its night. Personally, I like to use a very basic method that helps me regain a normal schedule as normally as possible.

The first step in my own personal jet-lag battle plan to be as caught up on my sleep as possible before I leave. That means making sure that I go to bed as early as I can and sleep as much as I can before I leave. I do this because I am not the best sleeper on planes and I prefer to rely on my nice comfortable bed for sleep instead of hedging my bets on an uncomfortable airplane seat. By doing this, I also virtually assure myself of being exhausted from a long travel day when I arrive, and thus can have a good first nights sleep.

Secondly, I make sure to try and bring my own healthy snacks on the plane with me, as well as drink a lot of water while on the plane. This helps to make sure that I keep me healthy since its easy to catch something when you are inevitably tired in the first few day.

Upon arrival, I like to get some exercise. I normally do a light jog, combined with a good long stretching session since my muscles are always tight from sitting in a plane for way too long. I find that this helps tire me out a bit so that I can sleep better that first night and also lets me see some of my new surroundings and exposes me to natural light (or darkness) thus helping my body figure out what time it really is.

All that helps me get through the first night. But the hardest nights are often the second and third. At least  for me anyways. My key to sleeping on the second and third nights is quite simple. NO NAPS. I always want to nap on the second and third days. Always. My eyelids will get heavy as I enjoy a quick sit down after a meal. I think, oh I'll just take a 15 minute power nap. Then bang, I wake up and I have slept for an hour or two or more. By night time, I'll be wide awake and end up falling asleep at 4 am only to have to wake up a few hours later. Its also important to go to bed at your normal bedtime. After I manage to not take a quick nap,  7:30pm rolls around and I think, I'll go to bed now, I'm really tired only to wake up at 3am with nothing to do, nowhere to eat and my roommate sleeping so I can't even watch crappy late night TV in Russian (or Chinese, or whatever language may be spoken in that particular country). With any luck, I manage to get a solid block of sleep each night and by the fourth or fifth night, I fall into a nice rhythm of sleeping and eating at the proper hours.

So that's that. My jet-lag strategy. Does it always work? No. Some places are easier to travel to. I find Europe is easiest on the trip out, but harder on the way back. Asia is hard no matter which direction you travel in. Sometimes I am lucky and it works well, sometime its tougher. Beating jet-lag isn't an exact science, but if anyone out there has a foolproof method, let me know!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Moving Mega Post

For a while now, years actually, I have face a single question from many many different people. Usually the question would arise at competitions, either at home or abroad. Sometimes I would get it at training camps. I've even been asked it while on vacation. The question?

"When are you moving to Montreal?"

It also came in variations.

"Have you thought about moving to Montreal?" "Why don't you move to Montreal?"

I've even got "So I heard you moved to Montreal a while back"

For the longest time my answers were the same. "No, I'm comfortable in Calgary", "Everything is going well so why change?", "Where did you hear that? Its not true by the way".

But finally, the time has come. Actually it has come and gone.

Once the season finished in March, I decided to put some serious thought into moving. After all, moving across the country is not a decision to be taken lightly. I started to piece together some details, talked to some key people who's opinions I valued a lot. I thought A LOT. Probably too much. But finally after a trip home in April, I made my final decision. I would move to Montreal to join the rest of the National Team for this season.

There were many factors at play that led to my decision. But ultimately what it all boiled down to was that I didn't want to look back on my career as a skater and think, what if I had have had the courage to move to Montreal. Could I have been a better skater? Could I have achieved more or learned new methods? I didn't want to have these question nagging a me forever.

Once the decision was made, the work started. Along with my other Calgary teammates, I attended a pre-season evaluation camp here in Montreal in the last week in April. This gave me the perfect opportunity to search out a place to live and get acquainted with what would be my new neighborhood. Once I got back from Montreal, it was really game on. Packing up my condo, cleaning, recycling, selling and giving stuff away (I still have two desks for sale, leave a comment if you are interested and in the Calgary area!!).

Then on May 16th, I packed my Volkswagen Golf as full as it has ever been, and pointed it east.

                                                         At the Saskatchewan border
                                           The Manitoba Border, taken at 120km/h.
                                                          Welcome to Ontario!
(didn't manage to get a Quebec border sign pic because it was pouring rain and I just wanted to get there by that point)

3800km and four days later, I arrived in Montreal. The drive across the country was long. But it was also beautiful and even a bit fun. I don't know if I would be eager to do it again soon, but I will definitely do again in the future, and hopefully take more time to explore along the way. Canada is really big and beautiful.

So thats that. A big change. The six years that I spent in Calgary were awesome. I've met so many neat people and been fortunate to train with great training partners and under a fantastic coaching staff, but it was time for a change. I'll miss Calgary for sure, but I'll be back one day. I've been in Montreal for two weeks now and even though there have been times where I have felt homesick and had doubts, things are going well and I'm looking forward to this season in a way that I haven't for a long time.

The whole team is off to Font-Romeu, France, for a training camp on Saturday so I'll try to get some pics up as well as some news from the Pyrenees!