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My Cross Country Ski Training
Winter Training
Week 30 (It Melted!)

cross country ski pole grip

This series shares my cross country ski training activities, and this is Week 30 of my training year, which started last May. Last week's record breaking early snow melted away. The snow was fun while it lasted, providing an early-in-the-year chance to kick and glide in both classic and skating styles. Ski training is much more fun when the precipitation comes down dry, white and fluffy!

roller skiing at Lake Superior

Even though I would have gleefully skiied on snow all week, there has been a big training benefit to getting back on my roller skis. While skate skiing on snow, I noticed some deficiencies in my body position, namely that I was having to raise my hands way up above my head in order to get my arms and body in position to double pole. Then, when my husband and fav. training partner Tom noticed I was planting my poles with the baskets very near my heels and not by my toes, that meant my weight was on my heels instead of forefeet (not good). His observation told me that raising my arms way high was not working. So! I knew my skating poles must be too long, especially because all summer and fall I had been poling so well with the new poles I bought for roller skiing.

After checking my on-snow pole length with the Swix pole length chart, OMG! I found that my on-snow poles were way too long by more than two-and-a-half inches.

So, out came the hack saw, and I sure did notice the difference in my on-snow poling power and body position after shortening my poles! Thanks to Matt Liebsch of Pioneer Midwest for his input on pole length, and for publishing a special article about pole sizing on his web site! Without that article, I had only my best guess as to what length to make my poles. The old wisdom was that cross country ski racing poles should be long enough to reach your mustache, or at least where yours would be if you had a mustache (which I do not haha). That is too long for current poling technique. So, anyway, good that I shortened my poles and am now getting the benefit of all my strength and power training, with proper forward body position and correct technique going into each poling repeat. Of course, I am excited to see how this all pans out this coming race season!

Pioneer Midwest pole length page

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 Pioneer Midwest image above, it's a clickable link to Matt Liebsch's article on Pole Sizing. Also, there I am roller skiing on the bike path next to Lake Superior, enjoying the view of the Coast Guard boat doing buoy maintenance out there.

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 30...

Week 30 AM/PM Mode Goal hrs: 9:30 (First of a 3-Week-Block that will total to 29:15 hrs. with the hrs per week being 9:30, 10:00, then 9:45) Hours
Mon AM

Tue AM SSK L1 Skating 1:00


Wed AM SSK intensity Threshold L3 Intervals Usual warmup: 15min L1, 3min L2, 3min L3, 4x20sec accels on the 2min mark; then 3 x 10 min @ L3 / 5 min OFF); then 2 x (3 min @ L4 / 2 min OFF). Cooldown until L1. 1:34

PM WT RM strength: Winter Strength routines feature lighter loads, quicker movements and a few plyometrics for pre-race season.

10min.warmup cycling with varied RPM

2 SETS (30sec. On/1 min Off & Quick)
* Mountain Climbers with resistance band
* Side to Side Bounds with resistance band
* Push Ups
* Russian Twists w. 15 lb.
* R & L Plank w. 8 lb. rotating
* Lunges (2 dumb bells, elevate back leg)
* Leg Flutter
* Inverted Row
* Box Jumps

3 SETS OF...
* Pullups (8)

2 SETS OF 15 reps. ea.
Pulldowns 2-arms, R, then L
* Dips on Dip Bar

Repeat the box jumps, inverted row and leg flutter
Thu AM SSK Skate and concentrate on pole plant vertical, forward and soon to get a good scoot as soon as you are on balance point. Slow sucky snow! 45DegF (haha) Today I discovered that my poles are 6.5cm too long! 0:45


Fri AM Run run/hike toggle 2x(10min fast walking/20min running L1) easy 1:00


Sat AM RSSK intensity: VO2Max L4 intervals Usual warmup: 15min L1, 3min L2, 3min L3, 4x20sec accels on the 2min mark; then 6x(4minON/2min.OFF) For the first first three start in L3 and then go to L4 about half-way through the 3rd, then during the last 3 go all L4 1:38

PM WT RM strength: 10min.warmup cycling varying the RPM

30sec. On/1 min Off & Quick
* Mountain Climbers with resistance band
* Side to Side Bounds with resistance band
* Push Ups Regular & Triceps on Knees
* Russian Twists w. 15 lb.
* R & L Plank w. 8 lb. rotating
* Lunges (2 dumb bells, elevate back leg)

3 SETS OF...
* Pullups (8)
* Bench Dips (15)

1 SETS OF 15 reps. ea.
* Pulldowns 2-arms, R, then L. Range of motion: head to hips.
* Dips on Dip Bar
Sun AM Run overdistance: run/hike toggle every 20 min 2:30


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.)

Shopping for gel beads ice packs...

Because this year's plyometrics left me with sore feet, I explored remedies. In a prior blog post, I shared my discovery of supportive plantar fasciitis socks, which have helped to support and heal my feet. For this post, I want to share my favorite way to ice my heels and plantars: gel beads ice packs. These awesome little remedies reduce inflammation and soreness, without any mess. So much better than an ice cube wrapped in a rag! In fact, I'm sitting with my heels on my very cool soothing ice pack as I write this blog. Here are some Amazon shopping links to ice packs with gel beads...

shop ice packs for relief

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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