Period Three of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

Welcome to period three of training for cross-country skiing.

We are now switching over from our foundational base period to building on that foundation with a mix of both increased volume and intensity. We will now be training more hours and starting to do some Level 4 and ski specific intensity. This is the time we start doing the hard work that will lead to better performances in the winter.

New work outs this period are: we have a race or time trial to test our fitness in Week 1 and in weeks 2 and 4 we will introduce moosehoofs into our training routine. Here is a video of various dryland ski imitation: https://www.ski-tv.no/langrennsteknikk-ep-9-barmark from ski-TV in Norway. Ski walking without poles, moosehoofs [elghufs in Norwegian], and bounding. You will see moosehoofs at 1:00 into the video. Moosehoofs are often described as lazy bounding. You will notice the skier is using a nice upright athletic body position with a relatively quite upper body and some bouncing going on in the legs leading to both feet off the ground, but not full explosion as we will see later in the video when the skier starts to do full on bounding. Also notice how the arms set the tempo and with moosehoofs the hands do not push past the hip on the follow through, which they may do with the more explosive bounding. Notice the loose hips that are rotating. Finally, notice the foot landing flat in front of the body and pushing off a straight leg and the toe in the back, just as we would in skiing rather than using running motions.

Again, if you need to adjust the layout of either your days of the week or the weeks of your period, feel free to adjust.

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Do a baseline check whether you do an uphill run or an uphill roller ski time trial as well as maybe some double pole test or a general strength test.

But the question you always have to ask yourself, “Is the training making you better?” If not, then you need to think about how I’m going to personalize my training to do so.

So don’t just follow the training blindly. Every four to eight weeks, do some sort of a check to see if you’re actually improving in your ski training. So this is a great time of the year to first start with a baseline test to see if you’re improving in your strength, improving in your technique as well as your aerobic fitness whether an uphill run or a roller ski time trial uphill.

Intensity, we start to focus a little bit more on adding in some what we call level four or max VO2 intensity. It is something that you can sustain for about 12 minutes. So it’s pretty hard and maybe think about as you introduce level four training, that it’s more of like a 10-kilometer distance pace. It’s little bit more conservative than just going all out what you would pace for a 15 or 12 or 15-minute time trial.

As it comes to distance training, over distance type training becomes more and more important. What does that mean? It depends on what your level of training is. That could be anywhere from two hours all the way up to six hours in duration for a single event. Think about doing these primarily on foot, meaning running or roller skiing. So maybe do one-third run, one-third classic, one-third skate. That’s a good opportunity to really build into moving, into a trend of more ski-specific activities.

Volume increases. As volume increases, be really conservative on the amount of intensity that you’re doing. Recovery is extremely important. Sleep well. Eat well and think about eating well before you train because that’s the first step in your training. Eat to train, not the other way around.

Most important at this time of the year also is to remain hydrated. Build fluids into every single workout that you’re doing. If it’s under an hour to an hour and a half, water is sufficient. But make sure you’re getting a sport drink if you’re doing anything longer. Make sure you’re getting in electrolytes, salts, so that you can replace and replenish.

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Each period, we will end with this advice since it is so important:

As you are planning your weeks and evaluating your training, also give some thought to how you are using the training plan. It is written to be a blueprint and a guide for your training, and is not written knowing in advance what conflicts you may have with training in any given week.

Many weeks can be done as scheduled. However, if you have to swap days or weeks out on account of your non training life, with good planning that can be done with great success provided you are giving thought to the swapping. For example, let’s say you have a week at work where you are going to have heavy time demands and stress and the schedule says it is the third week of the period, which is our big week, you may be best holding off on the third week and swapping it with week 4 our easy week to recover, and then also maybe make a small adjustment in week one of the following period. You can also swap out days on account of life outside of your training plan, just remember as you do that it is ideal to follow a pattern of hard followed by easy for the pattern of days.

Improving Strength and Resiliency on Uphills

Q: I want to improve my strength and resiliency on uphills over the summer and into the fall, what are the types of strength and aerobic workouts I should work on? 

Since all regulated races are subjected to one-third of the course being uphill (1/3 flat and 1/3 downhill) this means minute-for-minute in all the time you spend out on the race course a whopping half of it (50%) is spent going uphill! 

That means this is an area you definitely want to focus on, so this is a great question. 

Let’s talk about what’s going on the body when nordies race uphills. Among other things, two important factors are:

– Body reaches aerobic work rates of at least 90-95% Vo2peak and could be as high as 061% VO2peak (Anderson et. al., 2017; Karlsson et al., 2018)

– Body mechanics change. In an effort to become more economical, we alter our technique to adapt to the demands of the terrain. (Stoeggl et al., 2016)

The short answer to your question is: do uphill training up to 4x a week in your larger volume weeks starting around the end of training period 1.  

This can look like a couple different things:

– cycling uphill

– mountain hikes with poles

– uphill bounding with poles

– plyometics and ski-specific uphill jumping

– uphill roller skiing

– trail running on segments with more natural elevation gain 

A general suggested outline for a training plan that adequately incorporates uphill training would be as follows:

May-June: Engage in base-training by simply doing distance hikes in level 1 and naturally occurring level 2 zones. This means uphill hiking with poles, cycling, trail running and roller skiing. 

July-August: This is where you really increase your aerobic capacity with uphill threshold workouts, both sustain L3 uphill and L3 uphill interval training. By the end of this period you should have increased your aerobic capacity substantially. 

August-November: Here is where you add in the uphill plyometric work to increase strength and power. It’s time to be explosive, each uphill jump counts and quality is of upmost importance here as you hone in on muscle recruitment. 1-2x quality plyometric sessions/week.

You should have 1-3 level 4/5 uphill intervals during your harder weeks & practice some uphill speeds either in targeted speed workouts or at the end of interval sessions. 

November-December: Bring your efforts to the trails with practice application of your training efforts to on-snow time trials, intervals and your first races of the season. 

December-March: Notice you’re better at racing uphills than ever before. Each training day should be spent with acute focus on uphill skiing technique to further your economy in all sub techniques. 

Source: Ski Post

Period Two of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

Welcome to period two of training for cross-country skiing.

Here we are in mid-May to mid-June: we are not looking to be getting after it with heavy doses of intensity and ski specificity. We will work some ski specificity and intensity in, but just to work up to next month which will start a period of getting after it. As always, make sure the easy days are easy. Avoid junk training of medium hard, not easy enough to be tolerated well, promoting recovery, and not hard enough to have the benefits of properly stressing the body with true hard training.

When you’re doing your distance training, you should be introducing roller skiing at this time of the year. You don’t have to do a lot of it but make sure that you’re getting out on your roller skis about once or twice a week.

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We know a lot of people don’t like to run but if you can introduce that and incorporate a strong amount of running and maybe even walking with poles to engage not only the lower body but the upper body, this is a great opportunity to really focus on a ski-specific modality that is also general as well.

Think about the upper body. A lot of times we do running and cycling as cross-training activities. A lot of times we’re not focused on the upper body. So think about double poling and paddling as well.

When it comes to intensity, this time of the year, we should be focusing on the intensity more, on the – what we call threshold. Threshold means something that you’re actually training and can sustain for about 45 minutes of time. You don’t need to do a sustained 45-minute interval. Break that into pieces. Maybe you’re thinking somewhere between five and eight-minute intervals with a little bit less recovery in between. Keeping the intensity again relatively low. Also in intensity, you should be thinking about doing some speeds or accelerations. What are accelerations? Those are times of about 5 to 30 seconds of on-time with full recovery in between.

Again, it’s really more about movement, really focusing on speed of movement instead of actually increasing the heart rate. Focus on the threshold type training for the heart and then the accelerations for the movement of the sport.

IN GENERAL STRENGTH:

As it relates to strength, this time of the year we’re still working on general strength. You can add resistance now. Again, functional activity is very, very basic movements. But now add a little bit of weight. Focus on activities that are a little bit lower intensity. Hypertrophy happens typically when we do strength to total fail. So if you’re doing something that goes all the way to your full potential, that’s when you start to build muscle. So, stay below that.

IN FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH:

The second phase of our dry-land training program includes several new movement elements, many of them in the frontal and transverse plane (both critical to skiing faster).  We take advantage of warmer weather to add a dynamic movement warm-up involving a progression of locomotor tasks building from slow to fast, simple to complex.  Additionally, the training includes three “movement puzzles” to improve agility and body-awareness.

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Each period, we will end with this advice since it is so important:

As you are planning your weeks and evaluating your training, also give some thought to how you are using the training plan. It is written to be a blueprint and a guide for your training, and is not written knowing in advance what conflicts you may have with training in any given week.

Many weeks can be done as scheduled. However, if you have to swap days or weeks out on account of your non training life, with good planning that can be done with great success provided you are giving thought to the swapping. For example, let’s say you have a week at work where you are going to have heavy time demands and stress and the schedule says it is the third week of the period, which is our big week, you may be best holding off on the third week and swapping it with week 4 our easy week to recover, and then also maybe make a small adjustment in week one of the following period. You can also swap out days on account of life outside of your training plan, just remember as you do that it is ideal to follow a pattern of hard followed by easy for the pattern of days.

Choosing Between General and Functional Strength

Q: Within the year, when is a good time to switch between functional and general strength training, or visa versa? Would you recommend one over the other?

A: CXC Academy is offering two strength training programs. Each month you’ll have the option to pick which plan to follow based on your time and training goals.

Our “General Strength” training plan is a targeted strength program that is easy to execute. It’s specifically designed for those with busy schedules to hit the ground running and maximize the effectiveness of your training time.

Our “Functional Strength” training plan is a deeper dive into the philosophy of strength training. Using over 30 years of experience Coach Steve Myrland focuses on the importance of human kinetic chains functioning in all three planes of motion. This training plan will require more time, and patience, as we break down and master new techniques. But with more effort comes more reward. At the end of this training routine you’ll have a rock solid foundation, both physically and mentally, to achieve your race goals.

The first thing to consider is that a body functions as chain where each link must be fully connected to the links on either side of it and proper tension is created and maintained. A chain cannot function with out tension. (Try pushing one!)

A simple answer would be that functional strength and general strength should be looked at as being complementary to each other and not necessarily being mutually exclusive.

They can both be used at the same time during the year. It also depends upon what general strength you are doing. If you are doing a light “circuit” style strength workouts, this can be looked at as a foundation for other phases of strength training, like a period of max strength, when you are ready to tolerate it, or as a maintenance strength workout in the winter. A bigger question is how is your body responding to each type of strength training and how is it benefitting you?  

Put another way, 8 weeks at the start of the training year is a good time to practice lighter strength training to lay a foundation for harder strength training in more intense times of training during the dryland season. Then, as an athlete phases into the race season, strength training loads should be dropped down and strength should shift to a focus of maintenance gains made during harder strength training.

Human kinetic chains must be fully functional in three planes of motion. Since bodies live—always—in all three planes simultaneously, it is essential that we be wholly adaptable in all three, instead of wholly adapted in one.


Q: Within the year, when is a good time to switch between functional and general strength training, or vice versa? Would you recommend one over the other? Answered by Andrew Musgrave

Period One of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

Welcome to the 2021-2022 training year. In the cross-country ski world, we like to start the year with the week that contains May 1.

As we start the new ski year, our focus is on preparing the body for hard work down the road and putting down a foundation for the future. We are not looking to be getting after it with heavy doses of intensity and ski specificity. Those are things for later in the summer and fall. Remember, skiers are made in the summer, and then remember it is still spring. So, make sure the easy days are easy. Avoid junk training of medium hard, not easy enough to be tolerated well, promoting recovery, and not hard enough to have the benefits of properly stressing the body with true hard training.

Feel free to use your roller skis once in a while, but mainly leave them be for another month and enjoy some less ski specific activities like biking and paddling at easy paces as we prepare for the future.

With starting the new year, evaluating your strengths and weaknesses along with last year’s successes and struggles and adjusting based upon your evaluation would be wise.

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Each period, we will end with this advice since it is so important:

As you are planning your weeks and evaluating your training, also give some thought to how you are using the training plan. It is written to be a blueprint and a guide for your training, and is not written knowing in advance what conflicts you may have with training in any given week.

Many weeks can be done as scheduled. However, if you have to swap days or weeks out on account of your non training life, with good planning that can be done with great success provided you are giving thought to the swapping. For example, let’s say you have a week at work where you are going to have heavy time demands and stress and the schedule says it is the third week of the period, which is our big week, you may be best holding off on the third week and swapping it with week 4 our easy week to recover, and then also maybe make a small adjustment in week one of the following period. You can also swap out days on account of life outside of your training plan, just remember as you do that it is ideal to follow a pattern of hard followed by easy for the pattern of days.

Cheers, see you next month

CXC Academy to Feature Biathlon Training Basics

Biathlon by definition includes two different activities. In the case of winter biathlon, it includes cross country skiing and precision small caliber (.22) rifle shooting. Two very opposing and different sets of skills to develop.

Throughout the next year we will be focusing on developing and improving shooting skills in conjunction with improving and/or maintain skiing skills. It can be expected to take from two to 5 years to become proficient at shooting and being a good shot. Do not expect to become proficient at shooting during the first few years of biathlon competition. It can also be said that it takes from 2 to 5 years to become moderately proficient at cross country skiing if you’re an experienced shooter wanting to take up biathlon. Don’t expect to be a good skier in one year!

The goal for new biathletes of all ages should be know and understand the safety rules of biathlon and to become familiar with shooting positions and shooting fundamentals. Throughout the year we will be focusing on developing shooting skills and range procedures for participating in biathlon. This will include a few files/handouts, videos and workouts that can be incorporated into a weekly or monthly routine and will help in getting ready for races.

Through the year at various clubs there will be opportunities to become “biathlon safety certified”, (which is required to compete in open biathlon races) and biathlon specific training camps and races. Like Nordic Skiing, biathlon requires an aerobic base to be successful. Good shooting cannot replace a good aerobic base and skiing technique. We will start the year working on base shooting skills combined with easy (Level 1 and 2) workouts and strength building. As the year progresses, we will start to include more intensity in workouts and shooting with a higher heart rate and getting into and out of shooting positions quickly.

All shooting drills assume participants have a background in rifle safety or are working directly with a coach, parent or other person who has been through and understands the safety aspects of shooting a biathlon rifle.

And finally, in the Words of Bill Meyer (a USBA coach from Minnesota):

“An important goal for newcomers is to get through a few local races their first season without messing up. Biathlon is complicated! It is not just putting your head down and skiing as hard as you can, but often there are multiple ski courses identified by colored signs open during a race for different classes of competitors, penalty loops to count, shooting safety rules, wind flags to watch and even different shooting sequences between different “formats”. So among other reasons, keeping a clear head by not going “brain dead” with skiing too hard in a race is also critical!”


Mark Torresani has joined CXC Academy as a biathlon coach, mentor, and motivator, – introducing the sport of biathlon through a series of monthly videos and training plan tips.

Mark Torresani is the Midwest Regional Coordinator for United States Biathlon Association (USBA) and is the biathlon program director and coach at Blackhawk Ski Club in Madison (Wisconsin). Mark has been an active coach and participant in Nordic skiing and biathlon for over 35 years. Since 1995 Mark has been helping to develop Nordic ski and biathlon programs and venues in the Madison area. Mark has been working with biathletes of all levels over the past 15 years and routinely leads biathlon safety certification classes and biathlon training camps. Mark works as a civil engineer for Tetra Tech in Madison, Wisconsin, and actively volunteers his engineering skills to help with the design and development of Nordic and biathlon venues throughout the Midwest.

Season End Suggestions

 

Welcome to March and the very last training period of the year. 

This month no specific workouts will be posted here or/and to your TrainingPeaks Calendar, as we’ve hit the “Restoration” phase of the training year.

If you have access to snow, continue to do some ski workouts focusing on enjoying some springtime sun and crust cruising while still thinking some about your technique. However, do not get into a rut from being over structured, or you may miss out on needed regeneration.

This is a great time of the year to really focus in on not only recovering the body, but also recovering the mind. So, while adjusting to being off of snow, look at the activities that you enjoy to do and get out there and do those. Start to blend in multiple activities whether it be casual paddling (Canoe or Kayak), easy mountain biking, easy road biking, disc golf, regular golf while walking the course, hiking, rock climbing, Back Country or Alpine Skiing, backpacking, salsa dancing, swimming, snorkling, surfing, ice skating, fly fishing, etc.

IMPORTANT
Do not worry about any specific Speed, Level 4 VO2 Max pace or Level 3 threshold work, let any speed and intensity happen naturally while you are having fun enjoying different activities while you are regenerating from the past year’s training.

In the gym we are taking away the weight and just doing a lot of different activities. Staying strong while regenerating is a great thing. If we get too specific in our training, then we start to build asymmetry. We start to build tightness and we need to get back to resetting our clock and resetting our bodies, so that we’re ready for the next year to come.

We will be starting over with a new training year at the end of April.

Summer Storage Waxing for Nordic Skis

At the end of the season, it is so tempting to just leave the skis the way they are and walk away. There is a price to pay for this though: slow skis that need to be stoneground. Here are some basic steps to take at the end of the season that you will be grateful for come early winter:

  1. Clean any kick wax or klister completely off the ski bases using Waxremover or GelClean.
  2. Clean and copper brush your bases very well so the bases are clean. Quite often in the spring, the snow is very dirty. You want to remove any dirt you might have picked up. This includes not only brushing the skis out well with a copper brush but probably also using wax remover. If ski bases are dirty, apply wax remover and then brush well with a copper brush through the wax remover before cleaning. You might need to do this multiple times. Powder snow, which is what is commonly skied on in the fall is extremely sensitive to dirt. Dirty skis will be especially slow in early season snow.
  3. Hot wax the bases with Base Performance Red. Red is the perfect consistency for storage waxing. A harder wax can yield air pockets and a softer wax can get “eaten up” over the summer. Make sure to use a lot of wax for maximum protection.
  4. Store the skis in a place or fashion where they will not get very dirty or dusty. If they do get dirty during storage, be sure to scrape the ski bases before heating wax in (do not reheat the dirty summer storage wax!).
  5. I like to use this time of year to make sure that my klister tubes are closed completely so they don’t leak out over the summer.

Additionally, consider storing opened klister tubes in a colder place to prevent leakage.

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This advisory is courtesy of TokoUS.com

 

Period Twelve of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

 

Welcome to period twelve of training for cross-country skiing, – the month of March.

This time of the year, end of the season, we’re out of time. Most of the competition season is behind us. But we’re still having some targeted events. By all means, keep racing during this time. Find those selective opportunities to actually find races, find events.

When it comes to distance training, take advantage of the opportunity. This is a time of year when we have a lot of challenging type of snow conditions. Target those challenging snow conditions. This is a great opportunity to get better on our skis.

What that means is if it’s above zero Celsius or 32 Fahrenheit, don’t hesitate to put Klister on your skis. Embrace that opportunity and go out there and learn how to ski in tricky conditions. This will make you a better skier for next year, for this year, and for the rest of your career. So take advantage of that.

Also find those opportunities. It’s a time when the ground can freeze up and get a little bit faster. Don’t hesitate to work on your downhill competition and downhill skills as well. Get out on alpine skis. Get out on cross-country skis. But do a lot of different sliding sport activities, so that you’re improving your efficiency for the upcoming year. But not only the upcoming year, these last key competitions.

The month of March is also a great time to just go out for some enjoyable spring skis, either hitting up morning crust for a cruise or going for a fun in the sun pleasurable afternoon slush ski using some skins. Have fun enjoying winter’s last gasps.

What ever you are up to, keep training for another 4-6 weeks before taking some downtime to recover from the year of training.

Thoughts on tapering and peaking

There are many approaches to peaking for the big race. Personally, I think it is better to keep it simple and not go searching for the “secret”. My approach to “peaking” or “tapering” is not to do some secret voodoo style major adjustments to an athlete’s training plan. It is more about continuing to train consistently and work on the little details to be at your best – eating right, sleeping well, promoting recovery, reducing outside stresses, etc. The adjustment for me is to make sure to focus a bit more on rest and recovery leading into the big race(s).

A volume drop to about 80-90% of a normal small/recovery week in the week or 10 days prior to the big day is also in order, unless past experience tells you that you need to continue to do regular small weeks of training to not feel stale.

I also like to do prescribe some intensity workouts that are a bit shorter in duration with a slightly higher skiing velocity than goal race pace and plenty of rest. This should have an athlete feeling technically good at speed, may be even finding a new gear for your tool box, in the week or 2 before the big race and help an athlete feel sharp and confident.

More than finding the best ever secret intensity session before your big race to perform some magic, I think it is important to feel confident you have prepared well for the last year (or months if you got a late start) and you can come in with a little swagger from the preparation you have done.

If you haven’t done the proper preparation work in the weeks, months and years leading up to the event, there is no rabbit to pull out of the hat from the training or nutrition standpoint in the last days before the event. The best you might be able to do is invest in upgrading to some top of the line well fitting skis, poles or boots a few weeks out and then hoping your race waxer knocks it out of the park with your wax job – both risks that are better off avoided by good consistent preparation.

For more on tapering, go to https://cxcacademy.wordpress.com/tag/tapering/

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Each period, we will end with this advice since it is so important:

As you are planning your weeks and evaluating your training, also give some thought to how you are using the training plan. It is written to be a blueprint and a guide for your training, and is not written knowing in advance what conflicts you may have with training in any given week.

Many weeks can be done as scheduled. However, if you have to swap days or weeks out on account of your non training life, with good planning that can be done with great success provided you are giving thought to the swapping. For example, let’s say you have a week at work where you are going to have heavy time demands and stress and the schedule says it is the third week of the period, which is our big week, you may be best holding off on the third week and swapping it with week 4 our easy week to recover, and then also maybe make a small adjustment in week one of the following period. You can also swap out days on account of life outside of your training plan, just remember as you do that it is ideal to follow a pattern of hard followed by easy for the pattern of days.

“Fighting” the Skis When Classical Skiing Downhills

Q: I have over 30 years of skiing and racing, but starting last year, and beginning again this year, when classical skiing downhills I have to “fight” the skis as they want to drift out, or the tips of each ski to cross each other. Don’t have any issues when skating, I’m thinking it’s because the skating boot has a more rigid feel on the ski while classical boots have a looser feel because the heel needs to be off the back of the ski more. I’m doing something wrong because I could ski downhills with no problems in the past. I consider myself a really good downhill skier.

 

A: I can try my best to answer your question from a few different possible areas. 

1) THE SKIS

It could be possible that your current classic skis are too soft in terms of flex. This can happen with skate skis as well, and the most common term I’ve heard (and used) is “squirrely” to describe skis that wander. 

Essentially, if a ski is too soft it means the tips and tails will not have enough contact pressure with the snow…I suppose a metaphor might be the balance required to ride a unicycle versus a bike. It’s easier to balance on a bike (or well-flexed skis) because of the larger contact area distributing pressure over a bigger space, whereas on a unicycle everything is right under you. 

It might be an interesting experiment to swap skis with a skiing partner or two (COVID-concerns taken into account) to see if you feel the same type of experience on other pairs, which could rule out or confirm this theory. 

2) HIP AND ANKLE STRENGTH

In terms of your body and being able to respond to downhills and ski control, two critical areas are the ankles and hips. The ankles, most directly, impact ski control through their strength and coordination. You’re correct that without skate boots there is a bit more control needed…this is great on the climbs because when classic skiing you really want to feel the full range of motion when rolling the foot through the kick. However there’s less support for descents. 

Ankle strengthening exercises are numerous if you look at some PT sites for rolled ankles…lots of common ones include writing out the alphabet with each foot, or using a long sock with some weight in it to make “foot circles” in the air for strengthening. 

People often underestimate how much the hips can impact the stability and control a skier has, too. Even if you weren’t writing-in about this topic, I’d still suggest taking some time each week to incorporate hip strengthening through the use of resistance bands which are cheap and generally easy-to-find. 

The stronger the hips and ankles, the more you should be able to control the skis without using too much extra energy! 

Hope those are, at the very least, some helpful starting points. Happy skiing-

– Adam Terko, Mt. Mansfield Nordic Coach

Source: SkiPost