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/

***

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

Straight Ski or Skating with Linear Ski Placement

Q: So often I hear this recommend in one skate technique, that one should try to point your ski straight down the track as possible. However, I never hear how to do this… thinking last night in bed, that if your body is not in a significant forward position with good hip flexion then this is impossible. Can you recommend other ways to achieve this ideal ski placement?

 

A: There are two major reasons why this style of skate skiing is gaining traction. First, pointing your skis more in the direction of travel while skate skiing will help you cover more ground with more forward momentum from each push and second, having your foot, knee, and femur stacked and driving down the trail will help you generate a more powerful push that better recruits the glute muscles. (check out some Klaebo skating video).

If we think about V1, V2, and V2 alternate the V our skis make underneath our feet will get more narrow through each one of these techniques… V2 alternate having the highest speed and most narrow V. Furthermore, as a skier moves down the track with more velocity their V should narrow within ALL these techniques as well. (Think of someone doing a skate sprint start from a standstill. They will start with a wide V and barrow as they build speed)

Instead of thinking about pointing your ski tips in a specific spot I like to think about rotating my femur and foot more inward as I build speed. This takes a certain amount of stability and strength in the hips and glutes to glide on a ski in this manner but you will feel the gains both in forward gliding speed and in how much power you can generate in your push. Just remember, even though we are narrowing our V and have a less dramatic lateral weight shift at speed, we still need to have a full weight shift and commit to each ski without getting stuck in the middle.

 

Andrew Newell
US Ski Team // 4x Olympian
Nordic Team Solutions LLC
social: @andynewellskier
www.nordicteamsolutions.com

The Pros and Cons of Time Trials

In all sports, there is periodization. No matter the definition, there is no arguing that sports in general all have their own respective phases. For many endurance athletes, it’s common to train more and more specifically as the season nears. As for us nordies, we are starting to get closer to the competition phase, so the focus generally narrows a bit. For me this translates to a slight decrease in overall training volume, and an increase in intensity. Without getting into the specifics too much, a good (or bad) way to do that is by implementing time trials into training…

PROS

Time trials can be a great addition to spice training up a bit! Until now, a lot of training time has been spent logging in distance hours and a large portion of Level 3 intervals(roughly 85ish% max), so it’s been a while since you really got to rev the engine. This is one reason why time trials can be highly effective. They remind the body what it’s like to go as hard as you can, to race, go absolutely full gas, open up the throttle, throw down the gauntlet, & lower the BOOM! You get the picture. Often without race like efforts before important races your body may feel sluggish and won’t be able to optimally perform because it’s not used to such intense efforts. Doing time trials in the Fall is also a great way to measure improvements from time trials done in the Spring, and they can certainly improve your high end efficiency (among other things). They also allow for opportunities to test things like pre race meals, warm-up routines, day before training, etc, so that when you get to the starting line you are dialed in and ready to go. Furthermore, adding time trials now can highlight areas of weaknesses where more time should be spent in training to make further improvements with the time left before the season opener.

CONS

While there are numerous advantages to implementing time trials into training, there are other things that you might want to take into consideration. One of the biggest things that can have a negative effect on a potentially golden opportunity, is having the wrong mindset. Personally I have been there. It’s easy to get distracted in comparing & analyzing variables such as rollerski speeds, weather conditions, training loads, one’s strengths and weaknesses, etc…I like to recognize such variables, but also keep it all in perspective and judge my performance accordingly.  Off season TTs can play mind games, so it’s always best to look for areas for improvement and if applicable, appreciate gains made from previous tests. For most of us, there are 8+ weeks left  before our first ski races, so regardless of any TT performance, there’s lots of time to continue improving!

Garrott Kuzzy
Lumi Experiences

Height of Tail Off the Snow in Classic Skiing

Q: Could you address what the height of the kick indicates concerning an individual’s classic technique? Assuming a complete weight transfer and good shin angle on the gliding leg, does a greater bend of the knee (higher kick) in the follow through help or is it just styling?

A: Big powerful classic striding is both old school and new school all at the same time. We can all picture a traditional classic skier pose with the tail of the ski off the snow (although modern skiers are running hills more often these days) a good classic skier will still use this type of big striding technique on gradual uphill terrain. Effective lower body classic skiing is made up of two parts 1.) the kick 2.) the leg swing. A common mistake for intermediate skiers is to focus too much on the kick and try to force a powerful kick without a fast dynamic leg swing. They need to be paired and timed well together. So is the tail height a stying thing? I say not if it’s done well. The finish of one kick is the starting position of another, a pitcher can’t throw a fast ball without a good wind up and a skier can’t have a fast snappy kick/ powerful leg drive without starting in a position that allows for some forward momentum. The flatter and faster the terrain the more time we have for this big leg swing so our ski tails will be higher off the ground, as hills get steeper we need to shorten our stride and quicken our tempo so our tail height will get lower and lower to the ground as terrain steepens. I really think striding on flat terrain is a good way for skiers to practice quality weight transfer and snappy kicking. I recommend doing some striding drills on flats to train a dynamic leg swing and build into more gradual terrain to feel how much momentum can be gained from a powerful leg swing. Usually when skiers think more about the ‘swing’ and less about the ‘pose’ they will hit their wax pocket better and ski more efficiently.

 

 

Andrew Newell
US Ski Team // 4x Olympian
Nordic Team Solutions LLC
social: @andynewellskier
www.nordicteamsolutions.com

Period Eleven of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

 

Welcome to period eleven of training for cross-country skiing, – the month of February.

For the most part this period is not about last minute training to catch up for lost time. Don’t leave your good race at one of your preparatory training sessions. Less will be more. As the farmers say, “The hay is in the barn”. This period the focus has to be on being healthy, feeling confident, sharpening your fitness, feeling good technically at speed and recovering well so you have all the gunpowder (energy and glycogen stores) and swager you need come race day.

Strength

Strength remains important. The volume again is much less but it’s basically stabilized from the last period or two and we use that as a bit of a misnomer because stabilizing doesn’t necessarily mean we’re doing the same thing week in and week out. We’re still periodizing and progressing our training. But what we’re doing is we’re being deliberate in targeting the strength sessions when they’re hard. They’re usually early in the week, maybe a Tuesday, and then maybe we do another session towards the end of the week that’s more core-based. So we will do a full body strength and then more core-oriented as it gets closer to the competition.

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/

Good luck navigating that last week or 2.

***

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.

Center of Gravity In Diagonal Stride

Q: This comes from a skier of 40 years trying to finally get it right and is a technique question. In the diagonal stride, when the weight is transferred onto the the glide ski should the center of gravity be over the heel, over the ball of the foot, or in between (meaning, do you land on your heal, ball, or in between)?

 

A: The short answer is ball of the foot. I would discourage the a focus on “getting your knee over your toe” as often alluded to because you can have your knee over your toes and still have your hips too far back, in fact, that would be the body’s intuitive response. This will transfer your weight into your gluteus. For a visual this would be as in a “sitting on the pot” position. Overall that is bad because your weight will be behind you acting as an anchor, not propelling you down the trail where you want to go (forward and with efficiency).

To help you get into the correct position:

1. Start in the basic athletic body position, weight is distributed equally on both skis.

2. Softly flex your ankles, they should be supple, like “little shock-absorbers”, knees should be similarly light and loose, core stable.

3. Gently roll your weight from your heels and mid-foot until all the weight is in the ball of the foot by way of pressing your hips forward. The weight transfer should be initiated by the hips with the legs, knees, ankles to follow.

It may help to watch video clips of the World Cup (like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ei-oSh9CyA) and look at their feet as they diagonal stride the climbs. You’ll notice they remain on the ball of their foot, but also watch their hips and how much of the power and propulsion comes from there.

Source: The Ski Post

Making The Most Out Of Your Limited Training Hours

by Tara Geraghty-Moats

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. Make sure your intensity is high quality. It’s not a L4 session unless your HR is actually in L4 for the right amount of time. If you are lacking motivation, drink some caffeine and stick yourself on a treadmill.  Treadmill intervals are incredibly “boring”, yet, utterly effective because of the controlled environment and repeatable conditions. When running on a treadmill or Ski-Erging (shout out to Concept 2 ) motivation comes instinctively from the mere fact that you don’t want to fall off the treadmill, or let your speed on the monitor drop. Secondly, you can control your heart rate exactly, and get the most out of limited time. Treadmill intervals also have the added benefit of making you mentally tough.

MAKE SURE YOUR HAVE SHORT AND LONG-TERM GOALS. Maybe your goal is just reaching a new strength level (I like doing more reps). Maybe you want to improve your time in a local race, or perhaps you are working towards your first international podium. Make sure you have goals for each training session and focus on those goals. Create small steps that will bring to your bigger goals. Value your goals. Don’t base them off of others. Choose things that will make you proud, not anyone else.

FOCUS ON YOUR WEAKNESSES NOT YOUR STRENGTHS. Work on improving your weaknesses and not your strengths. This may sound obvious, but I’ve seen high-level skiers who are horrible at downhills focus only on the VO2 max intervals—so they continue to stay horrible at downhills. If they took a step back, they would realize that objectively they could get 30seconds faster a lot easier by focusing on skiing better on downhills. If your goal is to have a stronger upper body, don’t spend your short gym session warming up and doing static core. Do a 5min run instead of a 30min run and make time to do a lot of pull ups. This will enable you to make actual progress on the weak areas in your skiing and it will help keep you motivation.  Focus on your weak points.

POLARIZE YOUR TRAINING. Cut out all the fluff, reduce your hours. Balance your training with work or school. This could mean you won’t have the staying power to race fast every weekend from November through March, but it will mean you’ll be rested enough to go really fast for a few races that matter. I would always use a block training plan i.e. easy week, speed week, strength week, distance week. Or easy week, speed week, distance week, strength week. That being said, I did some form of HIT training on all weeks.

INTEGRATE YOUR TRAINING INTO YOUR LIFE. Try to make sure your life isn’t taking away from the training you do. Be creative. Use all the resources you have available to you to integrate training into your life. For example, if you are a parent and you don’t have enough child care, do intervals with a kid on your back or in a trailer. My mom did this, so I know it’s possible. If you need to stack a bunch of wood, do it fast, make it dynamic, and count it as circuit strength. If you work at a desk all day make sure you make use of your lunch hour to exercise even if it is only 30min. You can totally do intervals in 30 min by the way! 10min warm up, 3*4min L4 and 5min cool down. It won’t feel good but it’s effective. To help get the most of the training you do, create time to eat healthy and drink enough water. Use a creative office, try a standing desk, or a balance chair. Keep yourself active and your physical body engaged even when you are not officially training. Don’t get defeated. Do what you can with what you have. If all you have time for is 15min of strength on a strength day, make the most of it and be proud of that.

Why is it easier to get my heart rate higher while running than skiing/roller skiing?

Q: I feel my heart rate zones are at least 5 bpm lower skiing?

A: On the question about HR at similar efforts with different methods, my guess would be your body is currently more efficient at running and thus you are able to comfortably maintain a higher HR running than you are skiing. With skiing you may have some technique inefficiencies that are causing your body to react to the mode of training and producing blood chemistry reactions like higher blood lactate production at the lower heart rates using one method of training over the other.

Period Ten of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

 

It’s January, and we are now starting the race season.

This “note from the coach” is going to touch on a number of topics, because it is our last time to talk about a period as a whole prior to our target event. We will look at race season as one period, with perhaps a number of mini periods in it.

Note #1:  We will now encourage you to shift from 4 week periods to thinking of the whole racing season as a period.  From here on through your target race, don’t be afraid to move weeks around based upon how you are feeling and what preparation races may prepare you well for your target event.  (If your target event is not during “Birkie” week in the US, you may need to adjust the calendar by as much as a month or more.)  In weeks where you are racing on the weekend, drop the volume some as the intensity will be high and your overall load will be just fine.  In times where you may not have a race over the weekend, don’t be afraid to take the early part of the week to recover from racing the prior weekend and then doing a mini 2.5-4 day volume training camp to maintain some of your base fitness.

Note #2: Most of all during the race season, don’t just blindly follow this training plan.  Use it as a guide and adjust it based upon how you are feeling and what your past experience may be telling you.

Note #3: We have come to the time of the year where training through significant fatigue is no longer going to be of much value come your target race.

Note #4: We are focusing more on our intensity and maintaining our fitness and strength than we are on building our overall base. In this time of the season – the race season, really focus on your technique and try to maintain good technique throughout your hard work bouts and races.

Note #5: During the competition season, one of the things we do a great deal of is really target events to see what our strengths are. During the preparation-season, we focused attention on our weaknesses and making sure we had a good, comprehensive training plan. But when it’s a competition season, we’re focusing in on where our strengths lie. In order to focus in our our strengths, we have to be selective and also attentive to our recovery.  This is the case, regardless of the athlete.

Note #6: We should be selective in choosing our competitions because competitions cause a great deal of overall stress and take a great deal out of the body.  We should make sure that the competitions we are entering have a well thought out purpose to them – ie, how are they going to prepare us for our target competitions.  If there is a preparation purpose that will be served with a competition, go for it.  If on the other hand you are preparing to race the 50K FS Birkie and you have the option to do a 5K Fun Run out of nowhere, you have to ask is this 5K running effort going to serve my purposes well?  If the answer is no, you are better off sitting it out.  If the answer is may be, is there something you can do to change the may be to a yes – if you have been running a lot for training because you are limited with access to snow, may be the 5K running race can be part of a multi-pace intensity day, Running the 5K at race pace (roughly level 4), taking a set brake and then may be doing another 2 x 6-8min of on at L3 with 3 minutes of active recovery in between.  This type of adjustment can take a limited preparation day and make it highly valuable to the end goal.

Note #7: Another thing to think about this time of the year is overall stress loads.  It is easy to get a little bit fatigued and then fail to recognize the fatigue and continue to over do it, digging yourself into a hole.  One example of an adjustment to make to prevent over doing it is on a distance or over distance training session, be selective about the type of terrain that we’re training on – find the easier loops so you can keep the skiing at easier efforts.  Most of our competitions are on very hilly and steep terrain, so we should adjust our distance training to flatter terrain. This provides our bodies (our legs, arms, and core) a little bit of reprieve during the week’s training so that we’re more prepared on the weekend for competition.

Note #8: Distance type training this time of the year means that we’re stabilizing our training and we’re not necessarily increasing our volume, but making sure that our overall capacity is still staying high through this competitive season. We do that in a combination of ways, through plain basic aerobic endurance training (such as easy distance and over distance), as well as during our intensity. If we’re doing a great deal of racing and preparing for half marathons and marathons, we tend to be doing a good deal of threshold type efforts that we may add in some speeds or some Level 4 to train all our energy systems.

Note #9: There are weeks when we’re really focused on preparation in our interval sets and there we will be doing more intensity sessions. In weeks where we’re more focused on our races, we will be doing fewer intensity workouts to prime us for performance and then focusing on the races, making sure that we’re really targeting those. In these weeks we will reduce the volume and do just 1 midweek intensity session so we can focus on getting after it on the weekend.

Note #10: Recovery is very important – making sure that we’re getting adequate nutrition, making sure that we’re getting in both passive and active recovery (think both active rest walks and massage or stretching).

There you are 10 notes.  A lot of information to digest.  All these things are important especially as the competition season goes on.

Good Luck and Race Fast!

***

STRENGTH

Actual skiing (training and racing) must be the focus of your work at this point in the year. If your dry land training has been good, you should be able to feel its positive effects when you are on the snow.

The necessary emphasis on-snow time is off-set by a de-emphasis on our off-snow time. Therefore, the strength sessions are shorter; the reps are lower, and—if your schedule requires you to make a compromise . . . choose skiing over strength-training. Doing this program twice each week would be good / nice; but once a week—done well—will be sufficient if it permits you more time on your skis.

***

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.