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My Cross Country Ski Training
Spring Training
May Week 2

winning a kayak race

This series shares my cross country ski training activities, and here is Week 2 of the new training year. Cross country ski racers ramp up gradually during the first month. Since last winter's races were extra challenging due to exceptionally cold, slow and sometimes pretty darn tough conditions, I'm glad for this slow start, but already looking forward to some fun races coming up this summer, as well!

If you want to know what this series is about, click here to go to the start. It's for those who are curious about the kind of training cross country ski racers enjoy doing to get ready for winter fun at Lake Tahoe and beyond.

winning a kayak race

About the images: At the top of the page, that's me racing in a raging snowstorm during the Yellowstone Rendezvous cross country ski marathon. As for the other photos, kayaking is a big part of my training for cross country ski racing. Here I am ecstatic after having won first woman overall in the Rapa Nui open water kayak race. I kayaked to an island, ran around it, and then kayaked again, this time in totally unexpected red alert high waves and super bad weather conditions. But, I won the race and then, the sun came out! Do you think I look pretty stressed in the large image after the race finish, literally in the calm after the storm? You bet! Thanks to Rapa Nui for these photos.

This blog is based on my cross country ski training, and the info. is provided just for those who are curious about the kind of training cross country ski racers enjoy doing to get ready for winter fun at Lake Tahoe and beyond. You can view more of my training log by clicking on one of the navigation links below.

Let's check out Week 2...

Week 2 AM/PM Mode 2nd of a 4-Week Period: a variety of modes, bike, run, may kayak or roller ski if desire. 1-2 workouts/week @ L3. Strength workouts. Target hrs. 7:45 (of 32 for the 4-week period) Hours
Mon AM
Tue AM MtB mixed road & trail - focus on turns and flow 01:11

Wed AM Run Tempo L3 Run (Threshold Intervals) 15min warmup, 3x (10min L3/3min L1) go no higher than L3 in order to prevent lactate buildup 01:09
  PM WT RM Strength for cross country ski racers during training Week #2. First, warmup 5 or 10 min running or cycling. This simple set of exercises can be done at home and requires no special equipment. The aim is to develop basic conditioning through a variety of core, upper and lower body exercises. No weights yet. It is important to get personal instruction regarding how to do these exercises, such as how to keep a flat back with no posterior or anterior hip tilt. Done incorrectly, an athlete can do more harm than good. All exercises 1 min. ON and 30 sec. OFF (resting)
1. Front plank (Alternately lift opposite arm and leg, like a yoga bird dog pose.)
2. Side planks (Raise upper arm vertical, then bring it down and reach under your torso with rotation, then return to vertical and repeat.)
3. Russian twists in v-sit position with knees bent, heels on floor, keeping neutral spine, and isolating the rotation to the thoracic spine (in order to prevent lumbar flexion and load on lumbar spine)
4. Side squats using a slilder on the non-supporting leg.
5. Reverse squats with bent leg sliding behind my back, done with slider or on vinyl floor with slipper on sliding foot
6. Stepups onto an elevated platform lifting knee high in front.
7. Romanian deadlifts (RDLs)
8. Hip rotations. Standing on one leg, lift other leg into marching position with horizontal thigh. Rotate that lifted leg to the right then back to the front
9. Calf letdowns with heels going below edge of platform I am standing on
10. Pullups
11. Tricep pushups
12. Tricep dips on bench behind with legs horizontal and feet elevated on a platform
Thu AM RdB L1 riding ~45min w. 6x20sec accels/2min EZs 01:10

Fri AM Run Hill Intervals: Run this time warmup then 6x (2min increasing effort aiming to reach L3 within about 1 min then/2min L1) Do not go into L4 01:00

Sat AM RdB Overdistance social ride with friends 02:13

Sun AM Run Run for 45min After 15min of Fast Walking warmup (1 hr. duration) 00:45
  PM WT RM Strength: same exercises as last Wednesday (see above). 00:15
Total Hours


KEY: The references to L1, L2, L3 and L4 in the spreadsheet refer to heart rate zones, with L1 being lowest heart rate. A general way to think about these heart rate training zones is: L1 is Level 1 - very easy to talk, L2 is Level 2 - easy to talk, L3 is Level 3 - difficult to talk marathon race pace, L4 - cannot talk 5K race pace, L5 - WFO sprint pace maximum speed. Key to modes of training: Ski Walk/Bound SW/SS, Ski Skate SSK, Ski Classic SCL, Rollerski Skate RSSK, Rollerski Classic RSCL, Road Bike RdB, Mountain Bike MtB, Kayak or Row KYK, Double Poling DP, Weight Room/Strength WTRM. (For in-depth information about training plans, periodization of training and all the details that go into making up a training year, please look for CXC Academy or another training organization for that kind of detail.)

Shopping for Polar heart rate devices...

Polar is the type of chest strap I wear with my Polar heart rate monitor. It communicates well with the heart rate monitor unit, and as long as I have the chest strap located correctly, I can rely on being able to view my heart rate real time, since the two work well together. A Tip: I found that it is best not to submerge the unit in water even when cleaning, since this may decrease the reliability (which was my experience until I stopped submerging mine). Now that I wipe off the plastic electrodes with a soapy cloth, and avoid getting the unit wet, my Polar heart rate monitor strap has been long lived and reliable. So there's my glowing review of the Polar chest strap for you.

polar heart rate chest straps

DISCLAIMER: All sports including Cross Country Skiing have inherent risks. This training page is provided as information only. It is not a prescription for training. It is provided without the benefit of assessing the reader's health, fitness or skill. It is not a substitute for qualified personal coaching. Obtain a doctor's medical assessment before engaging in strenuous exercise. By reading this page, you agree to indemnify the author and any associated entity from any harm you may incur if you decide to follow the training program, and you agree you are at your own risk and that you hold harmless the author and any other associated entity.

  • First Woman Overall in the following races: Kneissel Rendezvous Marathon, President's Cup Marathon, Ridge to River Iron Woman, Pepsi Challenge 10K, two consecutive years: 10th Mountain Division Biathlon, and Muskoka Loppet
  • First Woman Overall and First Mixed Team wins for three consecutive years: Ski to Sea and Ridge to River multi-sport races
  • Second Woman Overall in the following races: Ski Jeep Challenge Series, Gatineau Loppet 27K Worldloppet Race, Superior Ski Classic Marathon, Grand Marnier Cup Marathon, Yellowstone Rendezvous Half-Marathon
  • Third Woman Overall: Payette Lakes Ski Marathon

  • U.S. Ski Association Cross Country Ski Championships results:
    • 26th Place Women All Age Classes in 20K Freestyle
    • 32nd Place Women All Age Classes (3rd in Class F30-39) 25K Freestyle at Royal Gorge
    • 51st Woman All Age Classes 15K Classic at Lake Placid
    • 2nd Woman Overall in the Masters Category Age 30 and up (First in Class F30-34) 20K Classic at Royal Gorge
  • U.S Ski Association Masters Nationals results:
    • First Woman Overall 25K Freestyle race
    • 6th Woman Overall 10K Freestyle race
    • 6th Woman Overall 20K Freestyle race
  • American Birkebeiner 53K Worldloppet Race Elite Wave starter for two consecutive years finishing 22nd and 29th Woman Overall (5th in class F35-39 both years).

After moving to Lake Tahoe, Mary Kay won several Top 3 Woman finishes in Far West Cross Country Ski events. She joined U.S. Biathlon Association and won two consecutive years Overall Woman at the 10th Mountain Division Biathlon, and was runner-up in her third year. She won Top Gun at the Washington State Biathlon Championships, out scoring all men and women. Currently, Mary Kay is a member of Ishpeming Ski Club and frequent competitor in cross country skiing, bicycling and kayaking events.


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