Period Two of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

U.S. Ski Team Development Coach, Bryan Fish addresses early spring training.

 

Video Transcript:

Welcome to period two of training for cross-country skiing. Here we are in mid-May to mid-June, approximate time, and one of the things that you really want to focus attention on is running.

I know a lot of people don’t like to run but if you can introduce that and incorporate a strong amount of running and maybe even walking with poles to engage not only the lower body but the upper body, this is a great opportunity to really focus on a ski-specific modality that is also general as well.

When you’re doing your distance training, you should be introducing roller skiing at this time of the year. You don’t have to do a lot of it but make sure that you’re getting out on your roller skis about once or twice a week.

Think about the upper body. A lot of times we do running and cycling as cross-training activities. A lot of times we’re not focused on the upper body. So think about double poling and paddling as well.

When it comes to intensity, this time of the year, we should be focusing on the intensity more, on the – what we call threshold. Threshold means something that you’re actually training and can sustain for about 45 minutes of time. You don’t need to do a sustained 45-minute interval. Break that into pieces. Maybe you’re thinking somewhere between five and eight-minute intervals with a little bit less recovery in between. Keeping the intensity again relatively low. Also in intensity, you should be thinking about doing some speeds or accelerations. What are accelerations? Those are times of about 5 to 30 seconds of on-time with full recovery in between.

Again it’s really more about movement, really focusing on speed of movement instead of actually increasing the heart rate. Focus on the threshold type training for the heart and then the accelerations for the movement of the sport.

As it relates to strength, this time of the year we’re still working on general strength. You can add resistance now. Again functional activity is very, very basic movements. But now add a little bit of weight. A lot of times people get a little bit concerned about adding weight or thinking they’re going to “hypertrophy” or build. Focus on activities that are a little bit lower intensity. Hypertrophy happens typically when we do strength to total fail. So if you’re doing something that goes all the way to your full potential, that’s when you start to build muscle. So stay below that.


Related Post: Training Periods for Cross-Country Skiers

Training Periods for Cross-Country Skiers

 

TRANSITION OR RECOVERY PHASE (SPRING)
Recover from the physical, mental and emotional stresses of training and racing. Complete rest is fine, but active rest is better.

Preparation:
Begin building into your modes of training.

 


BASE (SUMMER)
Base training is so called because it is the base upon which later phases of training are built.

Endurance:
Aerobic endurance is the number one component of cross-country ski racing, and it is the component of ski racing which takes the most time to develop. It is the primary aim of the base training period.

Example:
2hr rollerski or run split between level 1 and 2 or a 3hr bike on hilly terrain split between level 1 and 2.

Please note: about 80% of all training is endurance training. The rest is strength, intervals and races, etc.

Strength:

  • General: power and strength-endurance are built on max strength. General strength develops overall tendon and muscle strength necessary to support latter forms of training. General strength is the focus through the spring and summer.

Example:
After building up to weight training for 5-6 weeks, include some ski specific high weight and low rep work.

  • Specific: specific strength becomes more a focus later in the summer and into the fall once a solid base of general strength has been established.

Example:
Endurance session using only double pole over gradual terrain.

Intensity:
Most intensity should be below the lactate threshold early in the summer. Anaerobic training such as speed is good, but hard aerobic and anaerobic intervals should be kept to a minimum early on.

Example:
2×10 minutes at 5 bpm below LT with 2 minutes rest between intervals. Start with 1-2 sessions a week.

Technique and Speed:
Speed training during the base period should not be done at a hard intensity (short bouts of speed with full recovery are recommended) and should be oriented toward using correct movements at race speeds – not at moving at an unrealistic pace.

Example:
Incorporate 10-20sec bursts of speed into your endurance training.

 


PRE-COMPETITION (FALL)
Training becomes quite specific to the motions and intensity of ski racing. Aerobic endurance is still the primary focus, but the means to develop it have become more specific and more intense.

Endurance:
Training volume levels off or even decreases slightly to allow for the increase in intensity. Most of the training volume is aerobic endurance training – low intensity training of medium to long duration.

Example:
Rollerski or run almost exclusively in level 1.

Strength:

  • General: general strength takes a back seat to specific strength. Max strength is the general strength focus in this period (for only 4 weeks). Strength endurance is the primary concern of a skier, but power and max strength cannot be neglected.

Example:
Circuit using body weight exercises and more ski specific motions. Include some fairly ski specific max-strength exercises as well.

  • Specific: rollerski specific strength sessions are the primary forms of strength training and should be predominantly endurance based. Skiers should also incorporate plyometric, explosive jumping exercises into their strength routine during the pre-competition phase.

Example:
10 x 200m single pole, 10 x 200m double pole. Distance double pole session over all terrain.

Intensity:
During the Pre-comp phase, duration and intensity of “intensity” training should reach levels similar to competition. High intensity (VO2, above threshold) intervals are used. This type of training must be built up to, to be effective.

Example:
(LT) 2min, 3min, 5min with equal recovery, times 3 at LT. At the end of each interval you should feel like you could have kept going. At the end of the workout, you should feel like you could have done more. (VO2) 5x5min with half recovery at 95% of max (target heart-rate will not be meet until the second interval). Each interval should take you the same distance.

Technique and Speed:
All training is technique oriented. Speed training is a great way to train the anaerobic system, but also to learn to ski relaxed and with smooth technique at a challenging pace.

Example:
10-20 x 20sec incorporated into an endurance session.

 


PRE-COMPETITION (EARLY SNOW)
The transition onto snow demands a decrease in training intensity because of the increased load of snow skiing. Training volume usually peaks during this phase of training.

Example:
Endurance sessions strictly at level 1. Intensity can be done on foot rather than skis.

Christmas Stars and Thanksgiving Turkeys: skiers who do not monitor their training intensity properly during this phase often unwittingly raise the overall training load too quickly. The result is often a short-lived spike in fitness followed by a long-term decrease in race performance. Racers who peak early are known as Christmas Stars or Thanksgiving Turkeys. Example for the early snow period of the pre-comp phase.

 


RACE SEASON
Proper base and pre-competition training leads to a high level of fitness, which leads to consistent races all year long. A properly trained skier should be able to aim at a certain block or a few blocks of races throughout the season and still compete consistently at a high level throughout the season.

 

BLOCKS OF NORMAL RACES

Endurance:
Training volume must rise after a block of key races where the volume will have been lowered.

Example:
1.5hr session mostly in level 1.

Interval:
Races and interval sessions must be balanced, but intervals cannot be neglected especially early in the race season. Be careful with intervals between race weekends, especially at altitude, as it can be hard to recover.

Example:
(LT) 3×7 min at 5 bpm over LT with 3 minutes rest. At the end of each interval you should feel like you could have kept going. At the end of the workout, you should feel like you could have done more. (VO2) 3min, 4min, 5min times 2 with equal recovery. Each interval should take you the same distance.

Speed:
If not done systematically, must be incorporated into distance or interval work.

Specific Strength:
For strength to continue to progress, specific strength must be conducted on snow as it was done on rollerskis early in the competition period.

General Strength:
Circuit strength that aims to maintain max strength and power as well as a general muscular balance is important. Rollerboard can be used here and with all circuit strength.

Example:
Circuit using a wide variety of body weight exercises as well as more dynamic exercises to maintain power.

Race:
Results are secondary to continued technical and fitness improvements.

 

BLOCKS OF KEY RACES

Endurance:
Training volume drops. Training frequency (number of training outings) can remain unchanged to avoid feeling stale.

Example:
(Frequency) lower the duration of endurance training but keep the number of sessions the same; (duration) lower the number of sessions but keep the duration the same.

Intensity:
Sharpening intervals. Fitness has been gained; intervals now are for feeling sharp and fresh, not improving fitness level.

Example:
(Peaking intervals) 3×3 min just below LT w/ equal recovery, followed by 3×2 min above LT w/ equal recovery, followed by 4×30 sec all out with full recovery.

Speed:
Same idea as with intervals.

Strength:
Minimal maintenance strength if any at all.

Race:
Achieving your racing goals is the focus.

Please note: It can be good to bump up to a high(er) volume of training between important races so long as the intensity is kept very low. Sometimes using alternative methods of training, running, cycling, etc is a good way to do this. This helps keep the skier fresh, keep the muscles “clean” and “clear.” You have to know yourself to monitor this.

 


Source: The Ski Post

New Training Season: the steps to go through

U.S. Ski Team Development Coach, Bryan Fish breaks down the steps athletes should go through at the beginning of a new training season, as well as how to gradually get back into training after spring.

Video Transcript:

Welcome to a new year of cross-country ski training. Before you start anything, I recommend going and getting a general screening that would include both a clearing from your doctor as well as going through a blood screening and a functional movement screening.

That will help outline and understand what your unique limitations may be so that you can safely train through the whole year.

As we start the new year, the first thing we really want to focus on is setting a good baseline and what that means. After you do your testing and get a good establishment of what your limitations are – go back and start from scratch. That means basic functional movement, focusing on general strength, doing activities that are broad-based without weight, really making sure that the body is reset for the next year.

General endurance training is really important. You still may have snow in your community. If so, take advantage of this opportunity so that you can go out and ski and continue to improve your technique. If not, focus on general activities such as running, biking, going for hikes, going for paddles, those sorts of things. Make sure you not only reset the body but also reset the mind so that you’re ready to do specific training in the future.

As it comes to recovery, this is a real important time to focus on a great deal of recovery. That does not however mean that you don’t do any strength or any intensity. At no point of the year do you want to do zero of any type of training. You just want to reduce.

So again, strength should be very functional, no weight, lots of activities, intensity. Maybe do it every couple of weeks just to keep a baseline so that all that intensity that you’ve built up from the year before and the season you just came off of is still developed and continued on into your next year.


Related Post: Training Periods for Cross-Country Skiers

Ski Travel: Baggage Tips

EDITOR:
XCSkiWorld has developed this resource of airline policies with regards to the specific needs of XC skiers traveling with ski gear. International readers are asked to note that the information presented is specific to North American based airlines and may or may not translate to international carriers. All readers with recent experiences or information on this subject to contact our offices so that we can continue to keep the XC community up-to-date with info on the subject.


VERY GENERAL TIPS

Remember that airline security rules are firm when it comes to flammable wax supplies — most notably wax cleaners, spray klisters, and some spray fluoros. It is exceptionally wise to study the containers if in doubt and simply plan to buy supplies at your destination when you know something like a wax cleaner is going to cause problems.

Nearly everyone we’ve talked to in the airline industry advises contacting specific carriers before you travel to make sure of baggage limits and requirements. Unfortunately, since so many airlines officially state one thing and practice another “in the field”, the best advice is to actually contact the airline counter of your departure city and find out what their policy is on the ground. This might not mean you’ll get the same treatment when you return from your destination, but it’s a better bet than talking to a faceless customer service rep reading from a computer screen.

Seasoned XC travelers will tell you that the very best way to avoid hassles and fees is to pack only what you need on ski trips. An Olympian might “need” a whole carload of skis but even for major citizen races, most skiers will do fine with a max of 1-2 pairs of skate and/or 1-2 pairs classic. If you are on a holiday trip, just take one pair of each and plan on adjusting techniques to fit the conditions. Same goes for waxing gear (which often can weigh much more than skis). Stick with the essentials and borrow or rent gear on the ground when you can.

In terms of packing, a good tactic for keeping skis not only compact but also safe is to tape all your skis together before slipping them in your bag. To avoid getting tape residue on the skis, wrap first with a piece of cloth. 3-4 pairs of race skis nestled together are not that far away in width from downhill boards. The tape also has an added benefit of preventing slippage which often is the worst culprit in scratches during air travel. Make sure to have a travel coat of wax on your glide zones and do not forget your ski ties! A light coat, jeans or other tough piece of clothing stuffed in the ends of your bag will help prevent damage when the bag is put on one end or the other. Finish things off with clothing wrapped around the sides of the skis and poles to help cushion the bag throughout the trip. Be aware that if you get too carried away with the clothing wrap that it can raise the eyebrows of airline personnel if your bag looks enormous. Compaction straps can help reduce the sheer width which can avoid getting your bag flagged as “too big”.

For poles, a good lightweight PVC or cardboard pipe to protect the shafts is usually all you need. Try to get a tube that isn’t too big to help with the overall width problem. If you have an actual hardshell ski tube carrier, you skip the need for the poles to have added protection so that saves weight and room.

Good ski bags are worth their weight in gold and well worth the cost if you plan on traveling by air quite a bit. Many of the nicest bags come with wheels on one end which is a huge help especially when you have a long walk thru airports or train stations!

Even better than really good ski bags for some folks (and not all that more expensive) is to opt for one of the hardshell ski cases you can find at some XC retailers. The hardshells come with wheels for easy transport but what really makes them valuable is that many airlines will often only pay up on broken equipment claims if you use a hardshell. You often can’t get as much extra stuff like clothes in a hardshell without making packing a huge pain…but they do provide a measure of safety for your gear that almost no soft ski bag (no matter how well packed) can match. Note that it is always a good idea to toss in a small ski bag so that you have something to use for short to/from trips to skiing once at your destination.

Talking with a few airport personnel over the years, the biggest things you can do to make sure your bags are checked without hassle are to be nice to the gate agent and keep the weight of the bag well within limits. If the agent won’t pull a back muscle picking up your bag, they are less likely to enforce even the most stringent of official rules.

SPECIFIC POLICIES WITH VARIOUS AIRLINES

Once upon a time, xcskiworld.com maintained a list of all the major U.S. airlines ski-specific baggage policies. However, these days policies are changing literally every few months with added baggage fees and new restrictions. So your best advice is to visit the airlines you are traveling on and print out their policies when you buy your ticket. Actually, in some cases you may want to price in the cost of the bag fees BEFORE you decide on a ticket since some airlines can be so spendy with added fees you are better off buying a slightly more expensive ticket on another airline with better bag policies!

If you have particularly complicated travel with different airlines, it will pay to map out when and where you’ll face bag fees before you lock in any itinerary. Whereas the actual airline tickets might be a couple hundred dollars cheaper with one scenario, if you jack up your bag fees versus a more expensive ticket — you might be better off with the latter option. So always factor in the bags with any air travel these days.

Traditionally, skiers have been allowed one ski bag AND one boot bag to count as just one piece of checked luggage with most airlines. This was in place specifically for alpine skiers — but it was a huge benefit for XC skiers. We could put several pairs of XC boards in the allowed ski bag and then put both CL and FS boots in the allowed bonus boot bag plus some clothes. Now that policy seems to be on the chopping block with some airlines so take advantage of it when an airline still has the old rules in place. Also note that on some carriers skis are now getting a mandatory extra-extra fee similar to oversize luggage. Again, it will pay for you to shop around to see where you are hit with the highest fees. Weight as well as length are both considerations in the various policies.

Muscle Fatigue

QUESTION:
I’ve never been a fast climber and am much stronger on flat terrain in both skiing and other sports (like biking). This year I competed in both the Birkie and the West Yellowstone Rendezvous 50km skate races (starting in wave 1 of both races). I paced myself well in both races, but in the last 10 k of both races, my muscles burned on the climbs and generally left me exhausted. I had no problems with muscle fatigue on the flat sections or any short hills requiring burst of power in the later portions of these races. I’m wondering how I can adjust my training to generally improve my climbing ability, and in particular to stave off muscle fatigue on hills later in a marathon.

 

ANSWER:

I’d approach it on three fronts, technique, strategy/pacing, training.

Technique, when you come to the uphill, stand up taller to help get your hips forward over your feet.  This will make it easier to take smaller skate steps, moving more quickly from foot to foot. This keeps the skis moving. You won’t get bogged down as easily, and will be able to keep the skis gliding with less effort. Also standing up with your upper-body helps you breathe more easily.

Strategy / Pacing, this has to do when and where in the hill you put your energy. Focus putting energy where you get the most speed in return. Use your energy to maintain your momentum as far up the hill as possible, but then back off in the meat of the hill. Stand up taller, breathe and settle in to a relaxed rhythm. Then a few strides from the top, over the top and a few strides down the other side put in a bit more energy to build momentum through the transition and into the next piece of terrain.

Training, lastly and probably most importantly, put these tactics into practice.  Training with focus helps improve those things, but also helps you be in the zone while you are training – more focus on what you are doing, more improvement and a deeper enjoyment. Also, working on the hills with a specific focus will help you both physically and mentally to take them on.

Pete Vordenberg
for SkiPost

 

Iron Temperature

I have heard from a number of people that our irons are not running hot enough. Fortunately this is NOT the case. The issue is that people are using infrared thermometers to measure the temperature of the bases of the irons. Infrared thermometers are great for measuring temperatures of things that are not shiny, but when there is any reflection involved, generally a temperature reading that is far too cool is the result. Stainless steel is especially famous for this issue. What actually ends up happening is that the infrared beam reflects and you get a reading of something in the room as compared to the iron base. All of the irons in the test were set for 160c (320F) as the question at hand was if they got hot enough.

Here is an example of the contrast:

These two images were sent to me as evidence of the iron not getting hot enough.

Here are the actual temperatures of the iron bases (two different irons that were sent back).

Here is a T8 iron reading. We know the T8s run slightly cool, so this is very good for an $80 iron!

This is the proper equipment for measuring the temperature of a base of an iron. It is a thermocoupler which is basically a digital thermometer that has a direct interface with the iron base eliminating any reflection. This is a scientific instrument that is both expensive and accurate.

Anyway, this wasn’t a bad exercise to have gone through as it had been a while since I checked the actual temperatures versus readouts.

Ian Harvey, TOKO

 

Skin Skis – Opinion

There sure is a lot of hullabolu about the new skin skis and I am wondering are they an improvement over the old nowax pattern skis, and if they are, – why are they better. Or are they just another fad like the short skating skis, palm grips of poles etc. I sure would like to hear from other skiers, how they like them and why?

 

A: The skin ski makes a faster and quieter racing waxless ski than a cut pattern. But a waxed ski beats a skin ski most days. Skin skis are great for marathon classic races where the snow will change a lot throughout the day. Skin skis makes it easier to go out and classic in any condition without having to take any time to wax. For those of us who like waxing, – waxing rules.

Andy at SkiPost