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My Cross Country Ski Training
Early Winter
Week 32 (Race!)

cross country skiing

This series shares my cross country ski training activities, and this is Week 32 of my training year, which started last May.

This week started with not enough snow to ski on, but thank goodness the weather changed just in time for the first race of the season at the end of the week!

As all the coaches are advising for this week, I am personalizing my training. Since it's pre-race season time, and just before Christmas, AND there is a fun Season Opener race at the end of this week, it is time to make sure I am rested, recovered and ready to race. That means, we change things up and dispense with the usual routine. If I had no race or holiday, the plan would have called for this week's volume at 9:45. But, much less volume and just a few pre-race intervals will keep my body sharp and race ready, and will also fit in with Christmas celebrations.

cross country skiing

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. Then, look at all that beautiful snow that finally arrived - and the happy girl who is out enjoying skiing in it!

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 32...

Week 32 AM/PM Mode This week's goal: Low hours, pre-race intervals and race fast! Hours
Mon AM

Tue AM Run L1 running before roller skiing. (Today's workout is about half roller skiing and half running.) 0:30

PM RSSK L1 roller skiing immediately after running. Focus: building into my best V2. What is V2? Nordic Ski Labs explains V2 skate skiing. 0:45
Wed AM

PM WT RM Winter Strength Ski Specific Circuit for Pre-Race and Race Season December-January. Goal: maintenance and power, not hypertrophy. For all exercises move quickly.

WARMUP: ski specific gentle plyos jumping, body weight
* cycling 10min. w. varied RPM
* 5 min. Hopping in various styles all similar to jumping rope. Scottish Country Dance pas de chat, Irish dance style hops, one-legged and 2-legged
2 sets of 10 reps of the following:
* Hop Scotch both legs landing out, one leg landing in, repeat
* V2 Simulation hopping wide

CORE all w. 1 min. rests:
* Front Plank picking up legs alternately 30 sec.
* Side Planks holding in position, arm up vertical 30 sec.
* Russian Twist w. lightest weight or ball 20 reps.
* Leg flutter 30 sec.
* Tricep Pushups elbows close to body 20 reps.

LEGS all w. 1 min. rests:
* Goblet squat elbows to knee level w. a weight 20 reps.
* Side pull with band pulling inward 20 reps.
* Goblet Side Squats/Big Steps to knee on floor w. weight 10 reps.
* Goblet Big Steps Forward (Slow Lunges to Knees) w. weight 10 reps.

UPPER BODY 20 reps. ea. all w. 1 min. rests:
* Pullups
* Bench Dips or Dips on Dip Bar
* One-Arm Pulldowns R then L 20 reps. ea. arm
Thu AM


Fri AM SSK Ski the race course and do typical pre-race warmup for a 10 K: 20-40 min. ez L1-L2, then 3x(3 min. L3/3min. active rest), then 3x(1mi. L4 10K race pace/1min. active rest). Cooldown until reaching about 1 hr. This workout is to wake up the body and feel sharp for tomorrow, not a hard workout. 1:15


Sat AM SSK First Race of the Season! 7.5K Skate - Warmup: L1-L2 skiing the course 40min. Then 4x20sec.accel's, then 1x3min.L3, then 4x20sec.accels. Race with good technique and exhuberance. Second time skiing on new pole length and achieving forward high-hips position prior to initiating the poling phase. How did my race go? Hmmm. However, I did learn something important, which is that I need a much deeper drop out of high hips position, to get a deeper leg compression for better push off and edging in the skate. Good thing I have a month to work on it prior to the next race. 1:55


Sun AM SSK Overdistance L1-L2 skate. Technique work on what I could have done better in the race yesterday. Tom observed my skating, and then showed me how to get a much deeper leg compression in order to push more powerfully with my leg. I am working on this throughout today's ski.



PM Other
Directly after skiing - Hiking on packed snow-covered trail with varied grades. I need to keep doing some weight bearing exercise all year long.


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 Buffs...

Have you noticed that I pretty much always sport neckwear when out in the cold and training for cross country skiing? After trying my first Buff a few years ago, I have become a proponent of keeping my neck and face warm during training in cold weather. Maybe this is why I haven't had any respiratory problems for several Winters. Plus, it sure is comfortable to wear a light fabric over my ears and neck, to stop the wind and provide just enough insulation without making me feel too hot while training. A lot of my ski friends are hooked on neck gaiters, too. Here are some Amazon shopping links to neckwear by Buff and other makers...

shop Buff neckwear for skiing

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.


Navigation Links:

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