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My Cross Country Ski Training
Summer Training
Week 11 (Mid July)

mid summer training

This series shares my cross country ski training activities, and here we are in Week 11 of this training year. This is the third week of a 4-week block of training, and the highest volume week of the block. Because over 14 hours is a lot for me, I am making sure to keep my Level 1 workouts actually in that heart rate zone, so that I can accomplish the total hours as well as the two intensity workouts, plus a long overdistance workout at the end of the week.

In my training logs, you will notice that I usually do an overdistance workout once a week. What is overdistance? Many coaches recommend that this workout should be long and easy, at Level 1 (L1) and at a duration of about 125 percent of the time it takes to perform the longest race the athlete is training for. Therefore, for me and overdistance workout would last between 2:15 and 3 hours. It's important to consider that cross country ski races vary in duration, depending on the speed of the snow (colder = slower vs. icy = faster!), difficult of terrain (hills and altitude anyone?) and also of course the distance traveled. Currently, I am not training for marathons, although many racers do very well at them with just the type of training program I am following. I like races that last about 2 hours or less. However, when I was training for marathons, my longest overdistance workout was usually 4 hours long. (The photo shows my shock when I set a new course record at Indian River Biathlon! Next week, I'll show how I taper for this race.)

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.

So let's check out Week 11...

Week 11 AM/PM Mode 3rd of a 4-Week Block: Goal hrs. 14:15 of 47 hr. 4-week Block A HIGH VOLUME WEEK Hours
Mon AM

Tue AM Run Trails L1 1:45

PM WT RM Strength: 15min.warmup cycling then 45min strength adding lots of triceps & leg plyos 1minON/30secOFF w. 15 lb weight
1.Short step hop running R-L-R-L going uphill;
2.Hop scotch short step hop L-R in, L-R out going uphill;
3.Hop scotch both feet in, both feet straddle going uphill;
4.Sideways hopping scissor legs going uphill;
5.Hopups on rock, knee up in front the knee back like classic;
6.Tricep dips on bench, feet on box out front, 2 sets;
7.Pullups sets full, top, middle, bottom;
8.Pulldowns on weight machine R arm, L arm, then both together, high then low;
9.Dips on wall-mounted dip bar;
10.Planking: front, left, right;
11.V-sit w. Russian twists, weight side-to-side;
12.Tricep pushups;
13.One-legged squats, foot in rear and on box, weight in hand on standing leg side;
14.Leg extensions on weight machine
Repeat exercises until reach 1 hr.
Wed AM RdB Intensity Tempo Day: (after a bit of warmup Core/Strength in AM: 30min shoveling dirt pile and barrowing it uphill) working toward a 30min gravel cycling race. Warmup 20min. 4x20sec accels fast legs, 3minL2, 3minL3, then 3x15min L3/5 min L1, SLOW DOWN FOR ROAD CROSSINGS THEN SPRINT OUT OF THEM Don't stay in L4 except last few min L4 OK, cooldown L1 but rode up our hill so can't avoid higher H.R. there 2:10

Thu AM Run Run&Kayak Day L1 trail run ~45min w. 6x20sec.accels then immediately afterward... 1:00

PM KYK L1 kayaking 45min w.3x100stroke L3/fastpaddling intervals 0:45
Fri AM Run Run&Kayak Day L1 trail run ~45min w. 6x20sec.accels then immediately afterward... 0:50

PM KYK Intensity: First intensity in the kayak this year. Warmup L1 15min,L2 3min, L3 3min, then 3x(5min L3 / 2:30 OFF) then L1 cooldown 0:52
Sat AM RdB L1 cycling road and gravel,keep it L1 1:51

PM WT RM Strength:~15min.warmup trail run then 45min strength, core and plyos like Tue. 1:02
Sun AM RdB Overdistance: A Long One! Cycling this time 3:00


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 sports watch with GPS...

A heart rate monitor is an essential tool for cross country ski training, at Lake Tahoe and anywhere! My personal choices have been Garmin and Polar, and each brand has offered me useful features. I really like knowing what level of effort I am expending, and being able to glance at my wrist to see what's up, literally!

Any athlete who has trained all year at sea level, and then traveled to where the air is thin above Lake Tahoe, can attest that it's difficult to "go by feel" when training at such a difference in altitude. Additionally, it's really helpful for staying on your training plan, when you can view your data after each workout, such as heart rates, distances, pace, duration of workout, map of route, and more. Those are features of a sports watch with GPS like I have.

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: Kneissel Rendezvous Marathon, President's Cup Marathon, Ridge to River Iron Woman, and Muskoka Loppet
  • Three-Time First Woman and First Mixed Team wins at Ski to Sea and Ridge to River relay races
  • Second Woman at the Gatineau 25K Classic, Superior Ski Classic Marathon, Grand Marnier Cup Marathon, Yellowstone Rendezvous 25K and Pepsi Challenge 10K
  • Third Woman at Payette Lakes Ski Marathon
  • *U.S Nationals 26th of 41 Women All Age Classes in 20K Freestyle
  • *U.S. Nationals 32nd Overall of 86 Women All Age Classes (3rd in Class F30-39) 25K Freestyle at Royal Gorge
  • *U.S. Nationals 51st Woman All Age Classes 15K Classic at Lake Placid
  • *U.S. Nationals (Masters-only race: ages 30 and up) 2nd Woman Overall (First in Class F 30-34) in 20K Classic at Royal Gorge .
  • U.S. Masters Ski Association Nationals (30 and up) First Woman Overall 25K Freestyle race
  • U.S. Masters Ski Association Nationals (30 and up) 6th Woman Overall in both the 10K and 20K Freestyle races

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. She won Top Gun at the Washington State Biathlon Championships, out scoring all men and women. After moving to Marquette, Michigan she found that her two Birkebeiner finishes were also something to be proud of. These were 22nd and 29th Woman Overall (5th F35-39 both years). Currently Mary Kay is a member of Ishpeming Ski Club and frequent competitor in cross country ski races.

View more of my training log...

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