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My Cross Country Ski Training
Fall Training
Week 23 (It's October!)

Fall roller skiing

This series shares my cross country ski training activities, and this is Week 23 of my training year, which started last May. Wow! Time is flying and here we are at the start of October! This is a high volume week with over 14 hours of activities. Aside from the extra training hours, my schedule is similar to last week, but this week winds up with a fun 5K trail race on the ski trails at our cross country ski club. It's always fun to get together with other skiers to help prepare for the event, and then go all out on race day.

Fall bicyling with Tom

About the images: Cycling is a big part of my training for cross country ski racing. It's a great way to achieve long easy distance hours, plus nice for non-impact recovery, especially after plyometric workouts. Thanks to Tal and Holly, awesome tandem cyclists from Chattanooga, TN, for capturing this beautiful image of us on last weekend's gravel ride. Also pictured is me at a fall cyclocross, Trek CX in Waterloo. I would like to do at least one cyclocross this fall, depending on the weather.

Always Working on Technique

Another big part of cross country ski training is to constantly work on improving technique. Everybody who participates in this sport will testify that we are always studying how to ski faster by skiing better. Ever since taking my first lessons from a PSIA Certified Ski Instructor, my ski racing has benefitted from the advice and instructions of hundreds of fellow ski racers and coaches, many of them who reached the pinnacle of the sport in International competition.

However, the most comprehensive and productive approach to improving cross country ski technique has got to be After I happened upon the NordicSkiLab introductory videos on youtube, I just had to subscribe in order to constantly learn what ways of moving will make me a better cross country ski racer. Nobody pays me to provide these links, by the way. I just like to promote good resources for cross country skiers.

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 23...

Week 23 AM/PM Mode 3rd Week/3-Week Block: Goal hrs. 14:15 to get to 35 this 3-Week Cycle This week: 3 intensity workouts, 3 roller ski workouts, 2 strength Hours
Mon AM

Tue AM RSSK intensity: VO2Max L4 intervals RS Warmup 15min L1, 3min L2, 3min L3, 4 accels, then 4x(4min L4 / 4min OFF or recovery back down to starting point). On hill. Start in the same spot each time and plan your intensity so that you gradually increase in pace and get past your marker each time. cool down 10-20 min easy. One coach said, "Once you've built a base of VO2max intervals, you can increase the number or duration of intervals to 5 x 4 min, then 5 x 5 minutes." 1:45


Wed AM Run Trail running easy rambling pace with 45min sustained uphill grade and 1:15 technical trails: roots, rocks and grades. I climbed a mountain and navigated a river gorge. 2:00

PM WT RM strength:
* 10 min trail run
* 5 min jump rope

LADDERS (2 sets of 10 ladder segments):
* Icky Shuffle Moving Backwards
* Switch Legs/Front Leg Whip Moving Sideways
* V2 Simulation with Stop Action Balancing

CORE (2 sets):
* Front Plank on knees and hands, lift opposite arm and leg with Stop Action 20 reps.
* Russian Twists with 15 lb weight 40 reps.

UPPER BODY 3 sets:
* Pullups 8 reps
* Bench Dips 20 reps
* One-Arm Pulldowns R then L 15 reps each arm

LOWER BODY (1 set):
* Goblet Squat 20 reps w. 15 lb weight & Squat Jumps 10 reps no weight
* Front Lunge alternating legs 20 reps w. 15 lb weight & Scissor Jumps 10 reps no weight
* Goblet Side Squat 20 reps w. 15 lb weight & V2 Simulation 10 reps no weight
Thu AM RSCL intensity: L5 speeds Save Legs for Race in 2 days. Roller Ski Specific Strength: Warmup mostly DP and Single Sticking then 3 Sets of 4x(1min ON/ 2min OFF) of the arms-only techniques (one set per single sticking/diagonal, part-way double poling, then full double poling) Usual Warmup on Roller Skis: 15min L1, 3min L2, 3min L3, 4 accels 1:18


Fri AM Other Walking/Hiking Nothing percussive: saving my legs for tomorrow's race. 1:52

PM Other Hiking hilly twisty and some rocky rooty trails, while marking the race course. 1:30
Sat AM Run intensity: race day! Very long grades, deep grass, and a super technical section in this Trail Race (Usual Race Warmup: 15min L1, 3min L2, 3min L3, 4 accels) When making my plan for a race at the end of a long week, my coach's comment was that a race would probably feel hard at the end of the long week; however she encouraged me that, "You got this!" Yup! 1:20

PM WT RM strength:
* 10 min cycling

* Front Plank on knees and hands, lift opposite arm and leg with Stop Action 20 reps
* Russian Twists with 15 lb weight 20 reps per side

* Pullups 8 reps 3 sets
* Bench Dips 15 reps 3 sets
* One-Arm Pulldowns R then L 15 reps each arm 2 sets
* Dips on Dip Bar 20 reps then 15 reps

LOWER BODY (none due to hilly hard running race earlier today)
Sun AM RdB Overdistance: L1 cycling asphalt and dirt roads 3:40


Week Summary


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.)

Beanies for being seen and safe...

Since we are getting into hunting season, I always look for an orange cap or beanie to wear during my workouts in the woods. My hat collection is pretty extensive, but I can never seem to have enough choices of orange for the particular weather or workout intensity. So, I usually head on over to Amazon and see what's new this fall. Maybe you will find something you like.

shop orange beanies

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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