Specific Speed – Using terrain or resistance bands to aid a skier with building speed. This will create an “over speed” aspect which will help the skier on a neuromuscular level.
Specific Speed Workout Pick-Ups – Pick-ups done during specific speed workout. They’re usually 20 seconds in duration or shorter, and done in Level 5. There is really no particular set measurement value for Level 5 – it’s considered ‘maximum effort’, so whatever is your max you can go at – that’s your Level 5.
Choose before hand how you will be performing Level 5 spurts (diagonal stride, double pole, kick double pole, V1, V2 or V2 Alternate). Use one type of technique for effective and specific focus. You can also alternate going fast by moving your limbs at the highest cadence or by producing powerful movements.
As you get deeper into this workout, assess your tempo and speed. If you notice that the speed is dropping, you should allow a little longer recovery between each pick-up. The main focus of this workout is pace, so make sure you recover after each speed. Don’t let this workout turn into a modified Level 4 sessions.
Technique tip: bring the hands/arms back to the high position fast when doing Level 5. Up fast, then down hard and fast. The head and hands should come up together.
Speed sessions are slightly faster (Level 3/4) than basic endurance training, and accomplished in interval format. Heart-rate levels during speed training should be around 75-85% maximum heart rate. Interval sessions can total 21-60 minutes. Each interval can be between 7-12 minutes. During speed training, breathing is accelerated, but only during anaerobic endurance training does breathing rhythm peak. Developing speed is important when training for a marathon, since part of the marathon is actually skiing at speed training pace. Include 1 or 2 speed sessions in your weekly schedule, depending on the time of year.
Interval training is a good choice when you first start working on speed, since it’s easier to keep up a good pace during short repeats and exertion levels are not too high. As you progress, you can add even-paced sessions to your schedule. Cut back on speed training during transition and tapering, when you replace some of the hard sessions with actual racing.
Q: In the training plan it states a warm up of 13 minutes and then the speed work of 9 x 15 second pick-ups with some rest between repetitions. Does that mean that the main part of the workout lasts about 15 minutes with a total workout time of approximately 40 min?
A: Yes, it is a very light workout. The duration will increase later in the year. You can add a little more Level 1 for warm up and cool down to get it to 1hr 30 min of total time. Crisp technique, fluid and quick motion are the important elements of the speed workout and you have to be fresh to accomplish it. Finishing a workout fresh is also critical in establishing neuromuscular efficiency and that is the main reason to have it that light as well.
Alternative Methods for Speed Workouts
If rollerskiing is not an option, there are alternative methods to complete a speed session.
Running: Start in Level 1, then add a speed that is roughly 15-20 seconds. On a running track, 15-20 seconds generally equates to 100-meters. Speeds can be done on a running track for consistency, but also on uneven terrain, such as single-track trails for variety.
Biking: Similar to running, find sections of road or trail where you can integrate a 25-35 second speed, starting and finishing from Level 1. Increasing the time by about 10 seconds when biking is ideal considering that on a bike there is less impact, and the heart rate generally takes longer to increase while biking relative to rollerskiing or running.