Period Six of Training for Cross Country Skiing

Video Script:

For Period 6, it is important to recognize that the race season is merely weeks away, and therefore, now is a great opportunity to make both strength and general training as ski-specific as possible. Similarly, now is the time in the training year when overall training volume should decrease, while training intensity increases. This means workouts are going to be very hard and efficient in the sense that all muscles and movement patterns involved are going to be closely related to those that will be utilized in the coming seasons’ races.

Throughout the summer the training plan has focused on high volume. If this has been accomplished, then you will have a strong foundation to build high-quality intensity sessions.

Training this period should include very impulse-driven, plyometric actives. These exercises will translate to an effective classic technique in terms of setting the wax, as well as helping strength the push phase of the skate push.

As workouts become more intense and ski-specific, recovery becomes even more critical. Nutrition, hydration and sleep all remain extremely important, but staying healthy and avoiding sickness as we enter the cold-salon is particularly important. Take a look at your lifestyle and how it relates to your workouts because it all relates heavily to your ski training. If you are experiencing stresses at work or school, make sure you’re accommodating that sort of chronic stress in your training plan as well. Check in with how you are feeling and modify the hours and repetitions set forth in the plan that makes sense for you and your circumstances outside of skiing.

In summary, Period 6 is all about the motto “less is more” meaning we will spending less time working out each week, but more sessions will prescribe more level 4 training.

The Need To Do Long Level 1-2 Workouts

Q: We hear so much about the need to do long level 1-2 workouts to build an aerobic base. But like a lot of masters, I have been training/racing for decades and wonder if this training approach is needed, since my aerobic base seems to be pretty well established. And recovery seems to be more difficult every year. Should folks like me focus on shorter, high intensity workouts to maintain speed instead?

A: It all depends on when you want to end your days of racing.

When I was in college my housemate, Erik, had done 10 years of proper training at the highest level starting as a youngster. He was a National team skier for Canada and originally from Norway. For his senior year, and last winter of ski racing, he needed to spend most of his time on his engineering classes and not on training. So he focused on only intervals, speed and pace workouts. While I would go out for 1-3 hours each day, he would go hammer for 45 minutes 3 days a week. By midwinter he gained weight, and looked fat and “out of shape.” But even 10 kg above his best weight with no LSD in 6-8 months he could go out and kill me (and most everyone else) in every race. He could not maintain this interval only training for years but it did serve him well for 1 winter.

If this is your last winter of racing, yes you can likely skip LSD’s and just do intensity. But if you want to race for many more years you need to keep your LSD’s but also focus on intervals and intensity. Most Master skiers or runners do not do enough intensity and do to much Level 3 (sort of hard) every day.

If I were training to race, which I am not, I would do my LSD Sunday, take Monday off, do hardest interval session’s Tuesday night when you should be your most rested. Do easy circuit/strength Wednesday, speed session of some sort Thursday, easy Friday, race/pace ever other Saturday. Yes you can (should?) get a very detailed plan with daily and weekly and monthly advances. But this basic guide can serve you well. Focus one LSD and 2 very hard efforts each week and just use the other days for recovery.

– Andy @ SkiPost


About SkiPost

Cross-Country skiing’s community lodge. Where knowledge and stories are shared. The goal of SkiPost is to make the sport of Cross-Country skiing easier and more enjoyable for all who choose to participate. If you have questions on Cross-Country Skiing email us weanswer@SkiPost.com and visit SkiPost.com

Enjoy Winter,
Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost

Spenst: Goal, Exercises, Organization and Placement

Spenst training involves ski specific plyometric exercises that develop power, explosiveness, balance and strength. If you are looking to gain that extra snap in your technique, learn to accelerate over the tops of hills, around corners, sprint to the finish, improve balance and strength, or just impress your friends at parties, then spenst training is for you.

Ski technique has always demanded a quick, dynamic kick, for both skating and classic, and spenst training is a great way to develop it. Often it is the skiers who seem to be skiing with the least effort that have the most dynamic kick. Their secret is a dynamic push and then relaxation of the pushing muscles.
Spenst is a great addition to training and it yields noticeable results with a fairly small time investment of 10 to 15 minutes a week.

GOAL: DEVELOP POWER AND BALANCE

Means: several short repetitions of the following exercises with full rest. Gaining maximum distance with each jump – going as far as possible in the shortest number of jumps. Generally one takes between 10 and 20 jumps in a row (10-20 seconds of work) followed by a good recovery (about 2 minutes should suffice).

TYPE OF SPENST EXERCISES

  • One-Legged Hop

This is a spenst training staple. As the name suggests you will be hopping on one leg – up a hill. Start with a tame grade and build toward a steeper hill. Take 10-15 jumps on one leg moving continuously up the hill (don’t stop between jumps, but keep your momentum going); walk slowly back down the hill and take the same number of jumps on the other leg. Repeat 2 to 3 (or more as you build up to it) times.

  • Stationary Skate Hop

Simply jump sideways back and fourth as if skating from leg to leg aiming for max distance with each leap. Make sure you have your balance on each leg before you leap again. You can use your arms as if you were skating. You shouldn’t move forward, but should leap directly sideways off the whole foot, side to side, in the same place. Take 10-15 leaps per leg, rest, repeat.

  • Bunny Hop

Return to the hill where you did the one legged hops. This time hop with both legs at once. Unlike the one-legged jumps, hesitate slightly between jumps so that energy must be regenerated with each jump. This is a killer, and can cause soreness as well as loud guffaws, snarks, snorts and general hilarity among spectators.

ORGANIZATION OF WORKOUT

Warm up very, very well. Stretch thoroughly and begin slowly to make sure you are warm enough. The goal is not to work out your aerobic system, so take your time and recover well between each set of jumps so that you can make maximal efforts with each jump and each set of jumps.

PLACEMENT OF WORKOUT IN THE WEEK

It is best to place spenst training after a bit of rest because for it to have maximal effect you should be fresh enough to perform the work maximally.

EXAMPLE

Midway through an easy distance run or after warming up (the Jr. team I trained with in Sweden for a year did spenst as part of an interval workout) stop at a nice grassy hill. Stretch out some; perform a few easy one-legged jumps, side jumps and bunny hops (bunny hops can make your whole body sore if you’re not careful). When you are ready, take 15 one-legged jumps up the hill. Walk slowly down the hill and then take 15 jumps on the other leg. If it is your first outing take not more than 2 times up the hill per leg. The idea is to try to get further up the hill with the same number of jumps each time. Do the skate jumps, and bunny hops and be creative with jumps of your own creation. Just remember it isn’t spenst if it isn’t explosive – more isn’t better. If you are too tired to jump far, or if you feel any twinge of pain or pull, stop (start slowly to avoid injury!) Warm down well. The whole spenst routine can take as little as 10 minutes and so on a day when time is limited spenst is a great workout option.

If running and jumping is not in your repertoire, power can also be built on a bike with 15 to 20 second sprints up a very steep hill. Do some sprints seated and some standing, some in a tough gear and some spinning in an easy gear to work all the muscles. Explosiveness of this kind is more difficult to build on rollerskis, but like on the bike, sprints of 15-20 seconds on a steep hill are effective.

Rollerskiing Q&A

Q: Where I live we are roller skiers first and snow skiers second. In my estimation, most of the country is either facing this reality now or moving in that direction. Therefore from a skate perspective what do you see as being the main differences between snow and roller skiing that people should look out for and how can they adjust for them to make the transition easier?

A: Any rollerskiing is better than no rollerskiing. Do not avoid rollerskiing because it is slightly different than on snow skiing. Any rollerski time will only improve your on snow experience.

Q: Here is what I have come up with so far in my experience:

a. Seems much easier to plow snow skis by displacing too much weight forward and not so much because on rollers because the wheels are more forgiving with this.

A: Yes snow plowing is easier on snow but you get used to it on pavement.

b. With roller skiing you always get the “perfect ski” every time. With snow skiing there is much more variation to surface conditions (icy snow, deep snow, etc.). How can one train for this in the summer if at all to transition better?

A: Yes with rollerskiiing skate or classic you get perfect kick and glide every time, that is why it is nice to do. Just go do it. But when you are doing it imagine you are skiing on snow. In all sports you never what to just muscle your way through, but rather find finesse.

c. Stronger fuller leg pushes seem more critical on snow whereas on rollers you can get away more with a lighter touch due to the consistently good conditions.

A: Light is right both on snow and on pavement. Do not think about the power of the push think about complete weight transfer.

Anyways, just curious what other differences you see and how people can adjust for them while training in the non-snow months.

A: Think less, ski more.

Q: I really seem to struggle in deeper or soft snow, especially when skating up hills, I feel very inefficient with my energy output. Wondering what tips you would have for this? It seems to me that one would need to adjust their V1 technique in a certain way to ski more efficiently and economically in these types of conditions. I would also be curious to understand the adjustments one would make on an extremely hard packed surface that lacks any edging.

A: First of all, a ski for soft conditions vs hard pack will help you glide through powder much better. And as we said before light is right. Think of yourself as a feather floating across the snow. Be it v1, v2, or v2 alternate all can be done on/in powder. But floating vs pushing should be the thought. Skiing is a finesse sport. Figuring how to get your ski to glide over the snow rather than to plow through it is key.

One of the easiest way to improve is to ski behind another skier and adjust your technique. If you can get behind a better skier try to match them and you will improve quickly. If you are skiing behind an equal skier try different things and see how you can improve relative to them in each stride.

I hope this helps.

– Andy @ SkiPost


About SkiPost

Cross-Country skiing’s community lodge. Where knowledge and stories are shared. The goal of SkiPost is to make the sport of Cross-Country skiing easier and more enjoyable for all who choose to participate. If you have questions on Cross-Country Skiing email us weanswer@SkiPost.com and visit SkiPost.com

Enjoy Winter,
Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost

Period Five of Training for Cross Country Skiing

Video Transcript:

We are now into period five and there are a couple of things I want to talk through before we actually talk about the specifics of training.

Number one is polarized training and basically what that means is that when we go easy or we have endurance, easy endurance training, that we actually truly go easy in our training. The goal there is to improve our aerobic capacity and then when we go hard or at higher intensity, it’s when we say we’re going to do a level four interval session, that we’re actually going really quite hard.

We don’t want to have our easy training be too hard because then we don’t have enough recovery to go hard on our hard days. Then all we do is we get more and more tired.

So we really want to make sure that we’re training polarized or when it says easy training, that we’re truly going easy, and then when we’re going level four, that we’re truly going hard. Why that’s so important right now in period five is because in period five, it’s one of our highest volume months.

With that being said, it’s very easy both in period five and period six to train too hard on our level one type training, our easy training, and actually leave our whole season far too fatigued for the rest of the competition season.

The other concept that I want to talk through is compartmentalized training or making sure that all of our training actually flows from one to the next. It’s really complementary and it’s not just isolated so that when we’re out doing distance training, we’re just doing distance. We’re also working on technique.

Everything must complement one another. This complementary training is really important. So making sure that for example our strength complements our intensity training and that’s also extremely important as we move forward.

So as we discussed – the endurance, intensity and strength type of training in this period, first and foremost, it’s high in volume. Because of that, we want to make sure our easy work is very easy and it’s also becoming more and more specific to cross-country skiing.

Again more roller skiing, a little less biking type activities. Intensity, there’s a bit of a balance between threshold and Level 4 training. We can get a little bit creative here. If you’ve trained over the years, you can actually blend the two. Maybe what you do is you do a Level 3 workout or a threshold and add – maybe it’s five minutes on of Level 3 and then maybe one minute of Level 4 at the end. That’s a creative balance or you can have very specific ones.

Another thing to do is make sure we have accelerations in our distance training, but full recovery in between. Then the strength, we’re still focused primarily on the velocity-based training and we will talk about moving back into max strength in the next period.

Determining Lactate Threshold

Threshold changes day-by-day and, with training, improves week-by-week and month-by-month. The only way to know, and “know” is a bad term to use because it is a changing value, is to take a lab test aimed at finding the threshold.

Athletes have to learn to feel the threshold as they cannot get tested everyday. The test, as well as using a portable lactate tester in training, serves to reinforce or confirm what they feel their threshold is, or what they feel their easy pace is, etc. Recreational skiers can get tests at university laboratories or sports centers for very reasonable prices.

If they aren’t interested in this, they will have to use a formula and/or go by feel.

It’s a comfortably hard pace that can be maintained for upwards of an hour and a half. Formulas are not accurate but may give you a start. A skier’s threshold is often between 80 and 90% of max (and even higher). Wear a monitor and, starting slowly, build up your pace gradually paying close attention to your breathing and heart rate. When your breathing is hard but rhythmic and in control and you feel taxed but as though you could go for a good long while then you are probably around threshold. When your breathing becomes a bit ragged and just out of control, and you feel that you could not go for very long then you have crossed over your threshold. Note your heart rate all along the way. The heart rate where you are running a bit ragged is above threshold, so error low. It can be the case that you have predicted your threshold at 175 one day but are running ragged at 173 another day.

What you hope is that you notice the running-ragged-heart rate creeping up. If it is going down, then you know you are training too hard, too much, and/or resting too little. It is a flexible value, so don’t think that this can all be boiled down to some numbers. You will have to be involved in deciding for yourself how fast to train regardless what the heart monitor tells you.

Don’t make it too complex. Easy feels easy, hard feels hard… tired feels tired. Trust what you feel, and train well.

Which Swenor Rollerski Is Best For Me?

CLASSIC ROLLERSKIS

For Classic, the Swenor Fibreglass is the most popular model – its medium size wheels roll over most rough pavement with ease and its shafts flex to make it feel like skiing on snow.

It you want the light weight roller skis and are on smooth pavement, go with laminated Carbonfibre model with small wheels.

If you want the mostly stability and a big wheel that rolls over the roughest pavement and even some loose gravel, go with the Fintech.

Swenor also has less expensive aluminum shaft options and Swenor Junior models.

 

SKATE ROLLERSKIS

Skate Elite with its laminated shaft is the most popular model. It feels like you are skiing on snow and you can even carve it around corners.

On a budget do with the lightweight aluminum Skate Long for experienced skiers or Skate for beginners.

10-14 year old can use the Swenor Skate Junior.


– Andy at SkiPost