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.

***

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.

***

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.

Using Karvonen Formula to Estimate Max Heart Rate and Training Zones

The Karvonen method is an estimate of your max heart rate and training zones.  However, it is an estimate that can still be quite aways off, especially compared to the gold standard of physiological testing in a lab or the field.  CXC does have a lab in the Madison area, and the ability to perform a VO2 max test and extrapolate much more exact estimated Heart Rate training zones based upon various measures of ventilation during a test.  The reason I say estimated Heart Rate training zones is that each day you are likely to have slight variations in your training zones based upon a number of factors, including hydration level, overall stress, work out temperature, recovery from previous workouts, etc.  But, physiological testing is able to give a much better estimate of your zones than the formulas used by Karvonen or those adopted by most multi-sport training watches.

If you want to dial in your training zones as precisely as possible, a physiological test in a lab is the way to go.  If you want to get in the ballpark, we can recommend using some of Karvonen’s work combined with simple field tests for your max heart rate and then taking your resting heart rate for a few mornings after you wake when it is at a relatively low level.

TO FIND YOUR MAX:

Use the highest number recorded on a heart rate monitor during a VO2 Max Test, intensity workout, race or time trials.

or

Do a simple field test.  Run or bike up a moderately steep hill for 2-4 minutes all out.  Do this twice.  Use a heart rate monitor and record your efforts.  Your highest heart rate should be very close to the max you will achieve in training, races, max tests, etc.

TO FIND YOUR RESTING HR:

Take your waking heart rate for a week or two and use your lowest number.

TO ROUGHLY ESTIMATE YOUR ZONES:

Subtract your resting heart rate from your max to get your Reserve Heart Rate (RHR).

Then for your heart rate zones, add your resting heart rate and percents of your RHR.

Level 1 is ~<72.5%

Level 2 is ~72.5-82.5%

Level 3 is ~82.5-87.5%

Level 4 is ~87.5-92.5%

Level 5 is ~92.5% and up

This should get you in the ballpark, until you have an opportunity to get in a lab.

I LOVE being a cross-country skier

After a recent gravel ride with buddies, I came to the conclusion that I LOVE being a cross-country skier. The variety in training and overall general fitness allows you to do so many activities and reasonably do them quite well. I don’t believe any athletes are tied down to their sport as the only training mode but swimmers get better at swimming through swim training, and the same is mostly true for many sports. In cross-country skiing, the whole body muscle activation and fitness required leaves room for many different training modes. The body awareness learned in mountain biking, the general aerobic efficiency gained from running, the breathing techniques learned from swimming, the mitochondrial gains from long gravel rides, they all factor into a well-balanced cross-country skier ready to attack any course from 1.5 up to 50 kilometers.

As I have happily been realizing this season, I would encourage you all to mix it up this time of the training year and learn a new sport or a new skill. There is plenty of time for L4 rollerski intervals in the fall to tune the body into the specific skiing shape but build your base now and enjoy it while you do!

Ian Torchia / CXC Academy Guest Coach


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.

***

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.

***

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.

CXC Academy Strength Plans

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.

Launching Technique Video Analysis

Looking for ways to improve your ski technique? Consider a video coach for personalized technique analysis.

We work with individuals just beginning to ski, seasoned skiers looking to improve, and all levels in between. It’s good to have another set of eyes to offer guidance, – a personalized ski technique analysis could get you past a roadblock.

 

 

You don’t need a professional videographer to submit a video for critique; just a friend with a video-recording device who has time to capture your ski.

Sending a video of yourself skiing to a respected mentor can feel intimidating. The key is to view mistakes caught on film in a positive light. Just to make it clear: you don’t need to practice for a video. We want to see the first take! We want to see your major mistakes. That’s how we can talk you through it and help.

A coach will have comments recorded over the video footage of you skiing or roller skiing. Some sections will be rewind and watched in slow motion with frame-by-frame advancement providing feedback with the draw and commentary tools. A video lasts just a few seconds, but the advice will extend beyond the videoed segment.

We guarantee that all videos submitted will be analyzed and ready for review within 48 hours of payment. We accept all major credit cards and PayPal online. CXC staff will follow up within one business day (24 hours) of requesting analysis. You can also contact us at support@cxcacademy.com with any questions.

Personal Coaching

Central Cross Country Skiing (CXC) offers several training options to support your preparation for the Nordic ski season. In May, at the beginning of the training year, we get questions about what the right training plan choice is. The answer varies greatly based on athletes and their needs. However, there is one advice we can give to every athlete competing in Masters category. Look at your established life; the needs of your family; the needs of your job; your health and its possible constraints, and then choose a plan that supports all of it. Are you already twisting your head and saying that your life cannot fit around any online mass training plan ever developed for Master skiers? We agree. That is why, next to our three levels of CXC Academy online training plans, we also offer Personal Coaching.

Personal Coaching for master skiers allows participants to live more and train more, as the training plan is fitted week by week by a personal ski coach. Your coach builds your training plan around your needs, and even then you still have the availability to move scheduled workouts around if you desire to. Or you just contact your coach to adjust it for you! CXC Personal Coaching utilizes Training Peaks online platform that allows you to see the workouts planned by your coach; keep the log of the work you did, by hand or by transfer straight from your heart rate monitor; oversee your progress, fatigue and peaking towards an event, but mostly it allows your personal coach to instantly see any changes that need to be made towards your progress in sport or well being. To improve your ski technique, your CXC personal coach will ask you to send in a weekly video of you skiing, which will be evaluated in your weekly call. This is a great way to save time and gain valuable ski knowledge.

 

“I have been using the personal coaching program for almost a year, and it has been a great success. I have made significant improvements, and the training has been much more enjoyable since I started working with a personal coach. The program is customized for my needs, and I always have access to my coach when I need to make any adjustments. I was training for the 70 km Marcialonga in Italy and 90 km long Vasaloppet in Sweden as well as for local races in Iceland, and the excellent preparation helped me achieve and surpass the goals that we set for the winter. This is a highly recommended program with enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable coaches that are certainly worth using.”

– Einar Kristjansson, a master skier from Iceland

 

Do you have to be a race machine to fit this plan? Of course not! Although if you are, that is ok with us. With our personalized coaching, we can accommodate desires and support goals of any level of a cross country skier. Nordic skiing is a great way how to stay healthy. If you have a busy work schedule and love skiing, but struggle to fit some meaningful workout session that would support your well being, in your day, maybe personalized coaching would be a great option for you.

Nordic skiing can also support us in breaking our limits and going farther than ever. If you did the sport your whole life, however now you suffer some physical limitations, but still wish to fulfill your dream of skiing the Birkie or Vasa while making sure you enjoy it, instead of getting hurt or suffering through the experience, CXC’s Personal Coaching could be a great way how to adjust your training to your health. If your body still runs like a perfect machine, and you just didn’t have the opportunity to do a high-level racing as a junior or senior, or you wish to touch the sky in Masters category, however, have social constraints, the program can build you a professional skier plan that will fit your job as well as your family vacation.

CXC currently has four spots remaining in the program. If you are interested in Personal Coaching, send us a note (info@cxcskiing.org) to schedule a call, and let’s talk.

Your obstacles in training are our riddles to solve.

Period One of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

 

Welcome to the 2020-2021 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.

***

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 Names New Coaches and Mentors

MADISON, Wis. (April 16, 2020) – Central Cross Country Skiing (CXC) in partnership with the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation has announced a lineup of new and returning coaches for its CXC Academy program, an online subscription service that provides professional training plans for cross country skiers of all ages and skill levels.

CXC has named noted Central Region skiers Nichole Bathe, the 2020 American Birkebeiner Classic 55K champion and FIS Continental Cup racer, Caitlin Compton Gregg, five-time American Birkebeiner Champion and sport ambassador, and Ben Popp, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation Executive Director and citizen racer to its team of coaches and mentors offering targeted online training resources to cross country skiers.

Named to the team of coaches in 2019, Matt Liebsch, the 2009 American Birkebeiner Champion, and veteran collegiate and World Cup skier; and professional strength and mobility coach Steve Myrland will continue in their mentor and motivator roles.

CXC Academy is a unique program that has been serving skiers for over a decade. Subscribing members have access to training plans and videos from CXC Academy monthly. The 12-month training year is broken into four-week periods starting each week on a Monday and concluding on Sunday totaling 13 training periods with 28 days in each period. Four fresh weeks of training is published each month.

COACHES & MENTORS SPOTLIGHT

Nichole Bathe

Nichole Bathe grew up in Madison, Wisconsin where she joined the CXC junior program around 13 years old and worked her way through the CXC Elite Team before accepting a ski scholarship to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. At University she was a two-time all-American and Team captain.

Bathe is currently doing her Master’s at the University of Oslo, a Junior Coach in Norway for the Heming club, and in her third season skiing for the British National Team, living and racing in Norway and Europe.

This past season she had the opportunity to race in the United States again joining the 2020 Slumberland Birkie Supertour Classic sprints as well as the Classic Birkie. She will be advising through a series of videos covering general training advisory, ski technique and user Q&As.

 

Caitlin Gregg

Caitlin Compton Gregg, a five-time American Birkebeiner Champion, will be joining CXC Academy as a coach, mentor and motivator, – advising on race tactics, technique, ski selection and marathon preparedness through a series of monthly videos.

Caitlin grew up as a New Yorker riding the subway to school. The family traveled to snow upstate and in Vermont whenever possible. Gregg graduated from Northern Michigan University with a B.F.A. in Environmental Design. While in College she competed in both Cross Country Running and Nordic Skiing earning All- American Status in both. After over 15 years of diligent training filled with victories and setbacks, Caitlin reached her goal of making the 2010 Winter Olympic Team. She was thrilled to finish 6th in the Team Sprint with Kikkan Randall and 30th in the individual 10K Skate race. In the 10km Freestyle at the 2015 World Championships Caitlin won a bronze medal, and shared the podium with her teammate American Jessie Diggins. This breakthrough race marked the first ever medal for an American woman in a World Championship distance race.

Throughout her ski career she has been a leader, including member of the In-the-Arena, a national organization that puts at-risk youth in communities with Elite athletes who can inspire and motivate them to reach a better and more fulfilling life. She also works with the Gerry Gamble Boys and Girls Club as a role model and mentor for the local area youth.

 

Ben Popp

Originally from northern Wisconsin, Ben has been involved in American Birkebeiner events since the late 1970s.Born and raised in Phillips Wisconsin, Ben attended St. Olaf College as an undergraduate, and then received his masters degree in Education from St. Thomas University in St. Paul MN. Ben has coached Nordic skiing and soccer at Carleton College, St. Marys University.Ben has owned and operated Endurance Athlete Training Systems, as well as started the non-profit SISU Foundation before starting work at the ABSF.

Ben will be advising through a series of videos covering general training advisory, ski technique and user Q&As.

 

Matt Liebsch will be re-joining CXC Academy as a coach, mentor and motivator, – advising on race tactics, technique, ski selection and marathon preparedness through a series of monthly videos.

Matt is a 2009 American Birkebeiner Champion, multi-time World Cup racer with the US Ski Team and still actively involved in racing at the local, regional and national level.

Matt is married to Marybeth Liebsch and together they raise three beautiful young children in Osseo, MN. In his free time Matt loves chasing around his kids, racing triathlons and coaching at the high school and Masters level.

 

Myrland will be re-joining CXC Academy as a movement specialist advising on functional strength training through monthly videos and strength training plans. He is a highly recognized athletic development and performance coach for competitive athletes across multiple sports. He began his coaching career with the University of Wisconsin in 1988, assisting with Big Ten and national championship performances in hockey, soccer, cross country running, tennis and rowing. He also played a key role with the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks, supporting them to an NHL record for single-season improvement. He has also worked in Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Sox as well at the Tampa Bay Mutiny Major League Soccer team. He has been a past contributor to CXC coaches education workshops.


CXC is recognized as the governing organization for cross country skiing by U.S. Ski & Snowboard in its Central Region. CXC Academy is one of its flagship programs that has a long track record of helping skiers develop better ski technique, improve ski fitness and get ready for the next big ski event with the help.

To learn more about CXC Academy and how it can help you improve your cross country skiing, check it out at www.cxcacademy.com.

Why You Should Measure HRV Through the Off-Season

by SIMON WEGERIFTrainingPeaks

Simon Wegerif is a serial entrepreneur, inventor, and biomedical engineer. He was previously an executive with Philips Electronics in the UK and Silicon Valley. Simon is a competitive cyclist and has also completed a number of triathlons including Ironman distance. He created ithlete, the leading, scientifically founded HRV app in 2009 after identifying an opportunity for using HRV in his own training. He is considered an expert on the topic, having read over 1000 papers and frequently consults with industry experts.

You might consider HRV to be a tool solely for measuring overtraining, but you can learn valuable lessons for the season to come during the off-season.

Heart rate variability (HRV) is a relatively new method for assessing the effects of stress on your body. It involves measuring the time between heartbeats, which varies as you breathe in and out. Research increasingly links a high HRV (as in, more variation in the intervals between heartbeats) to good health and a high level of fitness, while decreased HRV (more regular, mechanical intervals) is linked to stress, fatigue, and even burnout.

Many athletes think of HRV a tool to avoid overtraining during the build-up to key events. However, HRV is equally capable of detecting other forms of stress on the body. This can be very useful in the off-season, allowing you to fine-tune your lifestyle so that you can recover more quickly when your training ramps up in the spring.

You can reset your baseline ready for the new season

A period of light training will reset your HRV baseline to a known starting point for next season. As the example below shows that, after three weeks, this recreational athlete’s HRV Average has settled at 77.3 and their resting heart rate at 72.6 bpm. These measures were taken in the standing position, hence the relatively high resting HR (it would be 10-15 beats lower lying down, however, HRV is best measured in an upright position). It’s recommended that endurance athletes take their HRV readings in an upright position, either sitting or standing comfortably, just after waking.

Test the impact of lifestyle changes independent of training

As all good scientists will tell you – change just one thing at a time and note the effect! The lack of large training loads allows you to try changing some of the key factors influencing recovery, and find out which have the largest effect:

Sleep

So much has been written about the importance of sleep for recovery, but having a metric like HRV lets you see the effect graphically, and this will reinforce your motivation & commitment to pay attention to sleep hygiene.

Diet

The benefit of a diet with more fresh vegetables, fish or reduced refined carbohydrates will make itself visible on your HRV, and help to reinforce good habits going forward.

Stress management

For most recreational athletes (and quite a few elites), mental, emotional and general lifestyle place a bigger stress on the body than training does. So being able to manage stress is very important, not only to give yourself the biggest tolerance for training, but for overall quality of life and happiness in general. Mental stress is caused by the difference between the load placed upon us, and our perceived ability to cope, so there are two ends to work on! Techniques such as mindfulness (i.e. focussing on the present moment), deep breathing, yoga, Pilates and even open water swimming are all powerful tools that improve our perception. You may be surprised at how large an effect one of these has on your HRV.

You can watch your baseline rise with purely aerobic training

Watching your HRV rise (and subsequently your resting HR fall) can act as a powerful motivator to keep the hours of long slow distance coming, when the thought of either going outside in bad weather or facing the monotony of indoor trainers seems an unappealing prospect.

Good HRV software (like the ithlete app) can also help you identify when your training volume is increasing too rapidly, by associating HRV changes with increases in your Acute:Chronic training load ratio (TSB) as shown in the chart below taken from the ithlete Pro™ app. You should also find that as your HRV baseline rises during recovery (The 8-15 of March in this example), so does your resilience to all forms of stress.

You can detect early signs of illness & take action

Training in adverse conditions (especially cold and wet) makes you more susceptible to colds and upper respiratory tract infections. HRV is a great barometer of when your immune system is becoming mobilized and can often give you a day’s heads up that allows you to wrap up warm, take some favored supplements (zinc, vitamin C, honey & lemon, Echinacea, etc.) and get an early night to give yourself the best chance of fighting it off.

The chart below shows an example of sudden sickness following an early-season training camp when the athlete’s immune system was in a weakened state. But it also shows how quickly recovery took place when the training was removed:

Although illness is usually accompanied by a drop in HRV (followed by a spike in resting HR), a well-conducted research study in swimmers showed a rise in HRV a few days before the cold symptoms started. This possibly represents an anti-inflammatory reaction by the body and is something that has been reported to us at ithlete by a few users, so worth looking out for.

Conclusion

If you’re not already a regular HRV user, the off-season is the perfect time to start. In the absence of intensive training, you can experiment with lifestyle changes and build a baseline that will stand you in good stead as a reference for when training intensifies during spring.