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My Cross Country Ski Training
Spring Training
May Week 4

lakeshore running

This series shares my cross country ski training activities, and here is Week 4 of this training year, featuring a little more volume, intensity and strength. Now, I am doing two intensity sessions per week, plus a little bit more ski-specific strength training, but not much ski specificity just yet. Last spring, I was roller skiing at this point, because I needed to work on my ski skating technique. In that year, one of my hour-or-so-long workouts during this week was an easy L1 roller ski session. However, this year I want to try to build more endurance, speed and power in my legs, by cycling and running more. There will be plenty of time for roller skiing for cross country ski specificity later on this summer.

the kayak to cycle transition

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 circle photo, I'm happy to be on my way to winning First Lady Overall in a kayak bike run triathlon. And, also there's a funny one untangling my bike to get started on my way to win a kayak-and-bike race. Wow! What a successful racing year! Kayaking, cycling and running are all great for off-season cross country ski training.

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.

Here is Week 4...

Week 4 AM/PM Mode 4th 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. Goal hrs: 9 (of 32 for the 4-week period) Hours
Mon AM
Tue AM Run Tempo L3 RUN 15min warmup,then 3x (10min L3/3min L1) keep it L3,FastWalk cooldown till 1:15 01:15

Wed AM Run Trail Run 15min FastWalk then run till 1:15 total. Focus: Feel activation of adductors and glutes 01:15
PM WT RM Strength for cross country ski racers during training Week #4. First warmup about 10 min cycling or jogging/running. 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 MtB Trail & Road, but the trails were too covered w. super slippery wet leaves, so I did more gravel & road 01:35

Fri AM MtB Hill Intervals: 15min L1, 2x3min L3, then 6x (2minON/2minOFF while riding back down) Choose hill, steep trail, that you would like to stand up on, but stay in the saddle. Have to go over L3. This is a power workout. 01:15

Sat AM RdB L1 hard surface running (asphalt bike path) 01:06
PM WT RM Strength: 5 min. running warmup then same exercises as last Wednesday (see above). 00:20
Sun AM Run Overdistance: L1 on trails, Toggle FastWalk-Hike/Run 10min Hike/30min Run w, 6x20sec pickups 02:15

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 a massage gun...

When my muscles get sore from workouts, I find great relief using a massage gun for sore muscles. Mine cost me around a hundred dollars, but there are many available on Amazon for less than half that. And, of course you can also find much more expensive massage guns. So my recommendation is to shop in your price range and study the reviews of other athletes who have tried each model, in order to make your choice. Perhaps you too will find a percussion and vibration massager that will make you much happier to get out the door for your next workout.

shop for massage gun.

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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