Period Two of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

Welcome to period two of training for cross-country skiing.

Here we are in mid-May to mid-June: we are not looking to be getting after it with heavy doses of intensity and ski specificity. We will work some ski specificity and intensity in, but just to work up to next month which will start a period of getting after it. As always, make sure the easy days are easy. Avoid junk training of medium hard, not easy enough to be tolerated well, promoting recovery, and not hard enough to have the benefits of properly stressing the body with true hard training.

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.

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We 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.

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. 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.

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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.

Fartlek Workouts

Article Source: TrainingPeaks (with contributions from Lauren Babineau)

This work out has it roots in Sweden. The term “Fartlek” means “speed play”. It is a training method that blends continuous (endurance) training with interval (speed) training.

Traditionally, the workout is done running on trails in the woods over rolling terrain. However, if you would rather do the work out on skis/roller skis or the bike, adjust accordingly.

Fartlek runs challenge the body to adapt to various speeds, conditioning you to become faster over longer distances. Most run workouts typically target one or two paces, and a basic long run is done at a single, steady pace.

Unlike intervals, where you stop or walk for recovery, Fartlek is continuous running. Fartlek running involves varying your pace throughout your workout.

While top speed might not match intervals, your overall average heart rate (HR) should be higher for a fartlek workout than for intervals, because the jogging recovery also means HR does not drop as low during the recovery portions. It is great for a variety of fitness levels and can be customized according to personal preference and current training situation.

Different Ways to Run Fartleks

Fartlek can be structured, though classic fartlek is based on feel and inspiration. “Run hard up the hill to the crest, jog to cross walk, accelerate the short downhill, jog to the intersection, run quickly around the block” versus “run 6-5-4-3-2 minutes faster with 2 minutes jogging recovery,” is an example of a structured fartlek.

Fartlek workouts are versatile. A traditional fartlek is run on the road using available landmarks as guides. If you are the analytical type, take your fartlek to the track and use set distances. Live in the city? Use lamp posts or blocks as distances for easy, medium and hard efforts. Bad weather? Bring your fartlek workout inside on a treadmill. Out of town and worried about getting lost? Fartlek is a great way to make a small loop more interesting. Have a friend joining your workout? Even if you both may run at different speeds you can regroup at certain landmarks or times. Can’t avoid the hills? Great! Hills are effective means to elevate your heart rate and work on strength, speed and endurance. As you can see, fartleks can be done anywhere—it’s convenient and packs a powerful punch of benefits.

Fartlek Improves Your Mental Game

Beyond physical benefits, fartlek also trains the mind, strengthening willpower, sustaining and repeating efforts when you feel like stopping.

We can all probably relate to a race situation when the mind can overwhelm us, questioning whether we can maintain the pace or respond to an opponent’s attack. The more training sessions we do that incorporate this speed variation, the more resistant we become to giving up mentally mid-race. The body can usually go much longer and faster than the mind would have it believe it can.

The Benefits of Fartlek Training

  • Improve speed
  • Improve endurance
  • Improve race tactics; improves your ability to put surges into races and overtake a competitor or knock seconds off your finish time.
  • Improve mental strength.

Fartlek provides a lot of flexibility, so you can do a high intensity session to push your limits or a low intensity session if you are tapering for a race or easing back into running post-injury.

Fartlek is playful, playing with speed and saying the word often elicits giggles!

Three Sample Fartlek Workouts

LONG RUN FARTLEK

  • During your longest run of the week, pick up your pace for 1:00 minute every 6 to 8 minutes. This is not drastically faster – perhaps 15 to 20 seconds per mile faster than your normal long-run pace. If you have a hard time returning to “normal” long-run rhythm, then you are running the surges too quickly.

SPEED PLAY

After a 12 minute warm-up jog, plus a few drills and strides
Build for 3 minutes as moderate, moderate-hard, hard each for 1 minute

  • 2 minutes jog
  • 7 minutes moderate-hard
  • 3 minutes jog
  • 3 minutes hard
  • 5 minutes jog
  • Cool down or repeat

“SURROUNDINGS” FARTLEK

  • After 10 minutes of warm-up jogging pick a landmark in the distance—this can be a telephone pole, mailbox, a tree, a building, etc, and run to it at a faster pace. Once you have reached it, slow down and recover with your normal running pace for as long as you need (just don’t fully stop), then find a new landmark and speed it up again. Keep in mind that there are no rules here, so run on feel as you go along.

Traditionally, the fartlek workout is done running on trails in the woods over rolling terrain. However, if you would rather do the work out on skis/roller skis or the bike, adjust accordingly.

CXC Academy Names New Guest Coaches

VERONA, Wis. (April 19, 2019)Central Cross Country Skiing has announced two new coaches for its CXC Academy program, an online subscription service that provides professional training plans for cross country skiers of all ages and skill levels.

CXC has named noted Central Region native Alayna Sonnesyn (Plymouth, Minn.), the 2019 American Birkebeiner champion, and veteran collegiate and professional sports coach Steve Myrland (Madison, Wis.) to its team of coaches offering targeted online training to cross country skiers.

CXC Academy has a long track record helping skiers develop better ski technique, improve ski fitness and get ready for the next big ski event with the help. CXC is the recognized governing body for cross country skiing by U.S. Ski & Snowboard in its Central Region.

Alayna Sonnesyn

Sonnesyn, a CXC native who now skis for the Stratton Mountain School T2 Elite Team, will be advising through a series of videos covering general training advisory, ski technique and user Q&As. Sonnesyn grew up in Minnesota and was cross country skiing by age three. She grew up racing in the Minnesota High School League and in CXC programs, winning a national junior title and skiing on scholarship for the University of Vermont. Her breakthrough race came at this year’s Slumberland American Birkebeiner where she took her first major win.

Throughout her ski career she has been a leader, including team captain for UVM. She has also dedicated herself to giving back to her sport, volunteering an guest coaching for Special Olympics, Green Mountain Valley School in Vermont and the Minnesota Youth Ski League. She received multiple honors from UVM in her senior year of 2018.

Steve Myrland

Myrland will be joining CXC Academy as a movement specialist advising on functional strength training through monthly videos and strength training plans. He is a highly recognized athletic development and performance coach for competitive athletes across multiple sports. He began his coaching career with the University of Wisconsin in 1988, assisting with Big Ten and national championship performances in hockey, soccer, cross country running, tennis and rowing. He also played a key role with the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks, supporting them to an NHL record for single-season improvement. He has also worked in Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Sox as well at the Tampa Bay Mutiny Major League Soccer team. He has been a past contributor to CXC coaches education workshops.

Joe Haggenmiller

Haggenmiller rejoins CXC Academy as the Master training plan writer.

Joe learned to ski behind many talented Americans and Norwegians and raced against at least 7 Olympic or World Champions. He is a past national champion and an Alumni of the MSHSL, NMU, and The University of Utah. Joe apprenticed as a coach under NMU Coach Sten Fjeldheim and Norwegian National Team Coach Trond Nystad. He has led International US Ski Team Trips and programs at the Junior Level (Superiorland Ski Club) and the NCAA Level (Michigan Tech). Skiers from his programs have won US Senior National and Junior National Races.

Joe is in his third year with CXC after 14 years at Michigan Tech. Joe has a passion for Central region skiing and seeing its skiers excel at the highest levels. He is a US Ski & Snowboard Level 200 certified coach committed to helping skiers achieve their potential as athletes, students, members of the ski community, and human beings.


CXC Academy is a unique program that has been serving skiers for over a decade. Subscribing members have access to training plans and videos from CXC Academy monthly. The training year is broken into four week periods starting each week on a Monday and concluding on Sunday totalling 13 training periods with 28 days in each period. Four fresh weeks of training is published each month.

To learn more about CXC Academy and how it can help you improve your cross country skiing, check it out at www.cxcacademy.com.

 

New Training Season: the steps to go through

U.S. Ski Team Development Director, 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

Debunking Our Most Commonly-Held Beliefs About Recovery

Source: Science Friday with Ira Flatow

Science writer Christie Aschwanden debunks our most commonly held beliefs about sports recovery with science.

How do you start to recover? Ibuprofen, ice, lots of water, and stretching might sound like good place to start.

But it turns out that following these seemingly logical steps for a faster recovery achieves just the opposite. Icing your muscles slows down the process of recovery. Too much water can be harmful. And stretching? You can put that in the same category as compression boots and cupping—they don’t help recovery one bit. Science writer Christie Aschwanden, author of Good To Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery, a new book on the science of recovery, joins Ira to share what she discovered debunking our most commonly-held beliefs about recovery with science.



Excerpt from the interview:

JENNY: So I have a question about using heat on your muscles instead of cold for recovering from a run. I’ve noticed that my lower back hurts a lot after I run, and if I use a heat pad on low setting, it seems to relax my muscles. Is there anything wrong with that? 

CHRISTIE ASCHWANDEN: No, I don’t think so. And in fact, I think heat is a really nice way of relaxing. Heat actually increases blood flow, and that can be a good thing. If you think about the reasons why I think it isn’t helpful, you can imagine that heating would be helpful because instead of slowing blood flow it’s actually increasing it. So it’s sort of opening up the blood vessels and allowing more to flow through. 

There’s an idea that that can help speed the removal of metabolic, things that are left after your exercising. So I say if heat makes you feel good, go ahead and do it. It’s probably a pretty good thing to do, and it’s certainly very relaxing. 

How to Shuffle Workouts to Fit Your Lifestyle

Tailoring Training to You and Your Life

To make the most of your time and energy it is important to focus your efforts. The best way to do this is by picking a few workouts per week to focus on. If you find that you excel at short events like a 5K, then you probably have good speed but need to improve your endurance (we’ll call you a type 1 racer).

On the other hand, if you perform well at longer events (marathons) then you may lack speed, and should focus on VO2 max and other speed intervals (you are a type 2 racer).

Focus on the workouts emphasized for the type racer (type 1 or 2) you most resemble.

Since time is almost always limited plan to complete the top priority workouts first and fit in the others as best you can.

Training must reflect your life and your life must reflect your training. A hard day a work can postpone a hard day of training.

As you are 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 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.

 


Which Workouts Take Precedence Over Others

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, and thus, adjustments must be made. In an effort 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.


WORKOUT IMPORTANCE

In general, anytime you see a Level 4 workout, consider that your most important workout for the week.

The next important will be Level 3, or, threshold intervals.

Next are long distance workouts.

Taking the least importance, are the shorter distance workouts.

This means if you need to drop workouts from the week, start by eliminating the shorter distance workouts before the others.

 

STRENGTH

For strength exercises, importance changes a bit.

If you are in an easy week of training, general strength is of least importance, and can be considered in the same category as shorter distance workouts.

However, if the week is a harder week of training, then general strength becomes more important, considerably as important as long distance workouts.

Specific strength exercises are always to be considered most important, just like the Level 4 intervals.

 


Scheduling Workouts Within Each Week

Try to shuffle the days within each week to fit your lifestyle and schedule, but avoid “loading” up missed workouts from other weeks to “make up for it.”

Be sure not to have two consecutive general strength or specific strength days during the week. For example, it is okay to follow a general strength day with specific strength the next day, but avoid having two general strength days in a row.

It is okay to have two consecutive interval days within the week on occasion, since that replicates some race weekends in the winter where you race both Saturday and Sunday. However, a majority of the summer training should allow for at least one day of recovery between hard Level 4 or 5 interval sessions.

If you have a workout that utilizes the upper-body heavily (such as double-poling or specific strength) try to focus the next workout on the lower-body (running, cycling) to ensure proper balance and recovery.

If you have the opportunity to train with other people, feel free to change your workout schedule around so that you can have partners to train with. Sometimes there is more value from what you can learn from other athletes than following a plan perfectly.

 


Scheduling Workouts and Training Twice-a-Day

When time conflicts arise, or during high-volume training weeks it can be most convenient to have two workouts in one day. It is important to follow proper protocol with multiple workouts in a single day.

It is better to schedule only one interval session per-day. Try to make the first workout of the day the interval session, and plan the second session to be a strength or distance workout.

Be sure to allow at least 3 hours between the end of the first session and the start of the second session.

Always allow at least 48-hours between each strength session

Always allow at least 48-hours between each interval session

It is a good idea to schedule the “off” day after very hard efforts, race days or race weekends with travel for recovery.

Season End Suggestions

 

Welcome to March and the very last training period of the year. Hopefully this competitive season was a successful one for you!

This month no specific workouts will be posted here or/and to your TrainingPeaks Calendar, as we’ve hit the “Restoration” phase of the training year.

If you have access to snow, continue to do some ski workouts focusing on enjoying some springtime sun and crust cruising while still thinking some about your technique. However, do not get into a rut from being over structured, or you may miss out on needed regeneration.

This is a great time of the year to really focus in on not only recovering the body, but also recovering the mind. So, while adjusting to being off of snow, look at the activities that you enjoy to do and get out there and do those. Start to blend in multiple activities whether it be casual paddling (Canoe or Kayak), easy mountain biking, easy road biking, disc golf, regular golf while walking the course, hiking, rock climbing, Back Country or Alpine Skiing, backpacking, salsa dancing, swimming, snorkling, surfing, ice skating, fly fishing, etc.

IMPORTANT
Do not worry about any specific Speed, Level 4 VO2 Max pace or Level 3 threshold work, let any speed and intensity happen naturally while you are having fun enjoying different activities while you are regenerating from the past year’s training.

In the gym we are taking away the weight and just doing a lot of different activities. Staying strong while regenerating is a great thing. If we get too specific in our training, then we start to build asymmetry. We start to build tightness and we need to get back to resetting our clock and resetting our bodies, so that we’re ready for the next year to come.

We will be starting over with a new training year at the end of April.

In the meantime, have some fun chasing other adventures!