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 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.