Are specific races included in the training plans?

The plans are written to be a blueprint and a guide for your training, and not written knowing in advance what event priorities you may have with training in any given week or month.

With that said, – over the last couple of years we have received a fair amount of feedback regarding target races/weeks.

Nearly all who responded indicated that the Birkie/Korte (in the US) was their primary focus event. Others were looking to “tune up” and race well at either the Noque, Boulder Mountain Tour, or the City of Lakes.

With this information:

– We have planned to work back 6 weeks from the Birkie (end of February) to be our best. 

– Five (5) weeks out would be a big volume training week for the winter, weeks 6 and 4 would be stout medium weeks for the winter and can include some tune up events.

– Weeks 3, 2 and race week we would gradually cut back the training volumes and let people get sharp, rested and fresh.


We also had a few responses that target races are World Masters or the Iceland Marathon. If this is your program, train more weeks of our lead up to the last 6 weeks in either 3 or 4 week blocks (3 week going Medium volume, Big Volume, Recovery, or 4 weeks going Small, Medium, Big, Recovery) and then take our last 6 weeks and put it in so our Birkie/Korte Week lines up with your events.

Below are extra thoughts on tapering and peaking: https://cxcacademy.wordpress.com/?s=taper

Hope this helps!

Alterations to Training and Racing in Light of COVID-19

Q: There may or may not be races this winter. World Masters are definitely cancelled and other regional events are in the air. That’s fine, I will look to the following 2021/22 season for serious racing and take this unique opportunity to focus on continuing progressive training through a full 5-6 month ski season. I will race any events that do arise but just a rest day or so prep, no peaking plans. Would you suggest any alterations to the upcoming CXC training plan over the winter with this objective in mind?

A: Our training plan is generally set up to race on and off throughout the winter maintaining our base and building speed on snow, with a 5 week focus on the American Birkibeiner, since that is the event so many of our athletes focus on. Our understanding is that the Birkie is planning to offer some sort of festival/challenge/competition the last weekend in February, so we will continue that focus. If once we get to mid February and we start dropping our volume, you want to skip the 2-3 week taper we have going on and instead want to keep enjoying a higher training volume, go for it and look back to January for weekly ideas. At the same time, some time in April/May, I think you will want to take some recovery time and recover from a good year of training prior to jumping into your 2021-2022 training.  

Selecting a Pair of Race Skis for a Ski Marathon

If you are fortunate enough to only have one pair of classic/skate race skis, you can skip this section. If not, please continue on.

If you are selecting a pair of race skis (either skate or classic) for a ski marathon, your first and foremost concern should be the flex of each pair you own. Flex is the most important, yet most commonly overlooked element of your race ski, yet most racers get bogged down with which grind or wax is being used. Assuming all things are equal and you have the correct flex, grind, and wax on a ski, the flex will do roughly 70% of the work in making your skis feel fast. In other words, even if you get a new grind and we nail the wax job, if you brought a warm/wet-flexed ski to a 10ºF marathon, you’re going to feel like we lathered your ski in candle wax and klister.

So, how do we find the right ski? Hopefully, you’ve had a hand in your own ski selection when you purchased them and have a good idea for what conditions to use them for. If not, most specialty ski shops have a flex board where they can use the paper test to determine your ski’s contact zones. If you wanted something more technical, Pioneer Midwest has a flex test machine that will graphically display your contact zones and Matt Liebsch could determine the optimal conditions for your ski.

In selecting the right ski for the right races, both your job as a racer and our job as wax techs get much easier, as we will all know the skis won’t be fighting you or the wax for 40+ kilometers.

Thoughts on Tapering and Peaking

 

by Joe Haggenmiller

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.

 

Joe Haggenmiller | Sport Development Director
U.S. Ski & Snowboard – Central Cross Country Skiing

E-Mail: joe.h@cxcskiing.org
Web: www.cxcskiing.org
FB: www.facebook.com/cxcskiing

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

 

Should I skip a local race in light of upcoming Birkie?

Q: I have a local race this Sunday which is all up. It’s level 4 the entire way. I would like to get the race in, but since the Birkie 29k is only 5 days later might I be not recovered for the Birkie, which is more important than our local series.

A: Is the Aspen Race the very best prep for the Kortie? Probably not, the Kortie will be a bit more user friendly this year, starting at Double O and finishing in Downtown Hayward. You won’t have quite the treacherous unrelenting terrain of the trails north of OO, but you will still have many punchy climbs and have to deal with the brute of a climb after Highway 77. So, practicing some climbing 5 days out is not such a bad thing.

I think the bigger questions are:

1. Will you be able to reasonably recover from the Aspen Race with travel to the Midwest in the 5 day period.

2. If you are only 95% recovered and as a result go a few % slower for the Kortie, will you still have a great experience at the celebration of the circus that is the Birkie?

If your answer to both questions is no and you might be kicking yourself about it, then you better skip the Aspen Race. If on the other hand your Kortie result is secondary to the whole experience of being at the Birkie and you think the Aspen Race is going to be a cool challenge, – go for it!!!

Busting Myths About Cramping

The VeloNews Fast Talk podcast is your source for the best advice and most interesting insight on what it takes to become a better cyclist.

For decades (almost a century, in fact), we’ve been told that cramping is caused by electrolyte imbalance or bad hydration. But new science suggests that this probably isn’t why you cramp during exercise.

So why do you cramp? It all comes down to something called altered neuromuscular control.

Take a listen: https://soundcloud.com/user-562497687/fast-talk-ep-26-busting-myths-about-cramping

Swedish Study on the Effects of Drafting and Air Resistance in Nordic Ski Racing

MITTUNIVERSITY in Ostersund has been investigating a study on the effects of drafting and air resistance in Nordic ski racing. Researchers are trying to figure out how much energy and power cross-country skiers can save when they tuck in behind other skiers. Researchers and athletes have reason to believe this can make a huge difference in mass start races.

An ongoing research study is looking to see how much energy and power can be saved by skiing behind others. “Drafting” is not a new concept, and proper drafting techniques are commonly practiced in cycling, however, to date cross country ski sports scientists have yet to prove its relevancy for Nordic racing.

“I absolutely believe that you can benefit from the study, since you can not only focus on how much you can save on skiing behind but also for the one in the very front – how can I optimize my race to give as little benefit as possible to those behind, says Mats Ainegren.

“We want to look at different speeds, because the air resistance increases at higher speeds, and then we want to see what speed has a significant impact,” says the associate professor of sports technology, Mats Ainegren.

The study called for 10 men and 10 women of elite and semi-professional racers, and will release the results in the fall of 2017, just in time for the 2017-2018 race season.

“It’s no news that it’s easier to ski behind, but I think, on the other hand, that you can develop the technology to be first and not loose anything. Sometimes it difficult to be second and third, – so the trick is to find the right method.” – says Jerry Ahrlin.


Source: SVT Sport

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Thoughts on Nutrition When Preparing for a Marathon or Long-Distance Race Event or “Carbo Loading Strategy”

Q: My question is really about what/how to eat the week before, night before, and morning of a marathon to ensure my body is as energized as possible. I know carbs are important and also know that a certain ratio of carbs, protein, and fat are required to help your body optimize the benefits of each component. So, I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say about how to eat for race prep, and maybe some examples.


A: When preparing for a marathon or long-distance race event, nutrition can certainly be a limiting factor. Muscle glycogen is the primary fuel athletes use in training and racing. Carbohydrate loading (the infamous, “carbo-load”) strategy has been shown to enhance marathon and long-distance performance by preventing premature fatigue.

For a well-trained endurance athlete, tapering exercise in the final days (36-48 hours’ pre-marathon) while maintaining adequate carbohydrate intake (10-12 g/kg/day) is a simplistic method for using nutrition to your advantage.

Sports nutritionists recommend that endurance athletes consume adequate carbohydrates to promote restoration of muscle glycogen between training sessions, for ideal recovery. Basically-make sure you are eating carbohydrates between workouts for recovery as well as to fuel your next workout. In general, endurance athletes should be sure that 60-65% of their daily calories come from high-quality carbohydrate sources, 12-15% from protein, and 25-30% from fat.

For a marathon (or longer) event, the last meal should be completed at least 3 hours before the start of the race to ensure that timing of energy release is ideal, and to avoid any gastro-intestinal problems. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates (bread, oatmeal, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes) However, some easily digestible fat and protein sources are also needed to help the carbohydrates supply a steady release of energy to the blood. A good example would be a bagel with nutbutter or oatmeal with nuts or butter, or nutbutter, giving you the carbohydrates and fat source.

Keep in mind, however, it is important to be able to supply adequate amounts of high quality foods without causing disturbances to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A pre-competition meal should not stray from foods that you normally eat in your everyday habitual diet.

Carbohydrate drinks have been loved and hated throughout the years. One camp claims that sports drinks before a race cause insulin to spike, and then drop during the race causing a “crash”. Studies more recently show these shifts in blood glucose are to minimal to cause a problem.

Hydration is of special concern for athletes who are exercising for extended periods of time. It’s not uncommon to forget to hydrate when training and racing, however, it is very important to have a hydration strategy in place prior to a race event and to practice regular and consistent hydration while training.

Be careful not to exceed ~700-800 ml per hour during a marathon, as high volumes have been shown to present intolerance problems.  It is key to have a hydration strategy to consume ~150-200 ml periodically throughout the race. If you know the course beforehand, look at the sections of the race profile where you can take a drink effortlessly.


Karmen M. Whitham
CXC Development Coach
karmen.whitham@cxcskiing.org

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2018 Masters World Cup: One Year To Go!

Coming January 19-26, 2018 the biggest age-group competition in skiing will visit Theodore Wirth Park in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota, as the 2018 Masters World Cup (MWC2018) returns to North America.

The MWC2018 will be the culmination of five years of planning by local organizers, The Loppet Foundation, and the American XC Skiers (AXCS) non-profit masters association.

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Photo credit: Vuokatti MWC2016

Well over one thousand masters from nearly two dozen nations spanning the entire cross-country ski world are anticipated to take part in the MWC2018. With no qualification process required, adult skiers ranging from 30 to 90+ years of all abilities will enjoy up to three individual races (in their choice of technique) plus a national team relay in all age/gender categories. Opening and closing ceremonies, social events, and Olympic-style medal ceremonies for each race are also part of the annual MWC program.

All MWC2018 racing will take part at Theodore Wirth Park located just a few miles west of downtown Minneapolis. Major improvements will be made, including expanded snowmaking capability at the park; a redesigned stadium configuration; a new event and administration building; and new trail access for the MWC2018 connecting the park golf course trails to two lakes on park property. Construction of all the planned improvements have begun with completion anticipated by Summer/Fall 2017.

“The new infrastructure is going to be great for World Masters, but also for everyday skiing,” says Isaac Kasper, the Loppet Foundation’s Trails Superintendent.

Part international ski festival and part world championship, the Masters World Cup is a celebration of cross-country skiing as a sport for life spanning over decades of competitor ages. All race events start in 5-year age groups making the MWC perhaps the only time adult skiers can actually take part in a ski event with a representative group of their exact peers.

Rotating around the ski world, the annual event was last hosted in the United States by McCall, Idaho, in 2008, with the last North American host site being Sovereign Lakes/ Silver Star, British Columbia in 2011. It is anticipated that next North American hosting slot will be no earlier than 2022, making the MWC2018 an incredibly unique event for any North American master skier.

Longtime USA National Director and current World Masters Association President, J.D. Downing, believes the Masters World Cup should be seen as welcoming and inclusive as any major ski marathon.

“Every year we have USA skiers attend the MWC from a huge range of abilities and fitness levels. The beauty of the MWC format is that everyone has a wonderful time.”

According to Downing, the selection of Minneapolis and specifically Theodore Wirth Park to host the MWC2018 was the result of a strong desire by both American XC Skiers (AXCS) and the World Masters Association to leverage a big city environment to build interest in both the MWC as an event and cross-country skiing in general.

“This really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for skiers from around the world to experience our sport in a true big city setting,” says Downing. “After skiing on really great trails at the park, participants will have their choice of literally hundreds of dining and entertainment options just minutes away. From NBA and NHL games, to world-class cultural events, to the Mall of America — this is going to be anything but the same-old ski experience. This is going to be the biggest XC ski party ever held!”

Loppet Race Director Mike Erickson thinks this will be really exciting for the whole Loppet community.

“We can’t wait to share our great trails with skiers from around the world.”

Understandably, the reliability of snow for the MWC2018 has been the single greatest point of focus in the event bid and development process over the past several years.

“The MWC2018 will be the first Worlds in history that has multiple plans in place for low or no snow situations, says Downing. “The Loppet Foundation has already tested lake ice grooming technology plus remote snowmaking systems so that in low or no snow they can incorporate the extensive Park lake ice into the courses plus surrounding terrain into the expanding golf course snowmaking loops. The fantastic natural snow courses at Theodore Wirth Park are obviously our preference, but everything will be in place for a great MWC2018 regardless of what Mother Nature provides us.”

Registration for the MWC2018 will begin in Fall 2017 via the official website www.MWC2018.com with extensive information already available via www.xcskiworld.com and other AXCS membership media over the coming year.

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Things to note ahead of the MWC2018:

— Although there is no qualification process required for the MWC2018, all USA racers will need a current 2017/18 membership in American XC Skiers (AXCS). Visit xcskiworld.com for details on joining AXCS.

— All MWC2018 races are wave starts by age/gender categories. USA racers that have taken part in the 2016 or 2017 Masters World Cup events will automatically have World Masters Association seeding points. USA skiers without points will have the option to petition the USA National Director in Fall 2017 for discretionary seed considerations.

— The MWC2018 relay (2 classic and 2 freestyle legs x 5km each leg) is a national team event with every nation limited to just one team per nation in each age/gender relay category. With a very large USA contingent expected, the AXCS National Director will have the responsibility of selecting all relay teams and alternates immediately following the first three days of MWC2018 racing.

— The 2017 AXCS National Masters will be held on many of the same courses as the MWC2018 and thus will represent an excellent opportunity for North American skiers to preview the venue for the “home” Worlds.


For more information:
J.D. Downing — AXCS National Director jd@xcskiworld.com 541-317-0217

Amy Oberbroeckling — The Loppet Foundation Communications Oberbroeckling@loppet.org 612-900-6890