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 the lost time. Less will be more. As the farmers say, “The hay is in the barn”. During 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 swagger you need come race day.


Strength remains important. The volume again is much less, but it’s 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 with 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 perhaps 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. I think it is better to keep it simple and not search for the “secret”. My approach to “peaking” or “tapering” is not to make some secret voodoo-style major adjustments to an athlete’s training plan. It is more about continuing to train consistently and working on the little details to be at your best – eating right, sleeping well, promoting recovery, reducing external stresses, etc. The adjustment for me is focusing 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 before the big day is also in order unless past experience tells you that you need to continue to do regular small weeks of training not to feel stale.

I also like to prescribe some intensity workouts that are a bit shorter in duration with a slightly higher skiing velocity than the goal race pace and plenty of rest. This should have an athlete feeling technically good at speed, maybe even finding a new gear for your toolbox in the week or two 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

Good luck navigating that last week or two!!


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

As you plan your weeks and evaluate your training, give some thought to how you use 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, it can be done with great success, provided you are giving thought to the swapping.

When it comes time to plan your training week, sometimes it’s helpful to know which workouts take precedence over others. This is particularly useful if a skier has other obligations outside of skiing (work, personal life, etc.) that may interfere with the amount of training one can devote during the week. Thus, adjustments must be made.

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. It may be best to hold off on the third week and swap it with Week 4 – our easy week to recover, and then maybe make a slight adjustment in Week 1 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.

To make adjustments to the plan that won’t dilute the integrity of the training program, we have a few pointers for planning a training week.

Read the advisory on scheduling workouts:

– Cheers, see you next month!

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