cross country ski training page 1
You are here: Home Page > Activities > Skiing > XC Ski Training > Week 33

My Cross Country Ski Training
Week 33
(Time for Improvement)

cross country ski boots

This series shares my cross country ski training activities, and this is Week 33 of my training year, which started last May.

After last week's race, I started the week determined to figure out why I felt great and could race with enthusiasm, but just did not get enough leg compression for more powerful skating. Then, as this week progressed, and Tom helped me to identify some technique changes, I ended the week grateful to have done that Season Opener race, because it was truly an eye opener! As it turns out, shortening my too-long poles gave me the right pole length to get a wonderful windup at the start of the skate, with high (forward) hips, weight shift onto the supporting leg, and lots of poling power leading into the edge-and-skate on that leg. However, I just needed to remember that I really must drop out of that high hips position and into, well yes let's call it low hips, in order to get powerful leg compression for the skate! So, good now! It's great to be able to make corrections like this early in the season.

cross country ski touring

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. And, Tom and I enjoy the Winter Wonderland during our end-of-week classic ski tour. This is our first time on groomed trails with set tracks this season. What a joy to be kicking and gliding along!

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 33...

Week 33 AM/PM Mode Week 33 Easy: 7:45 - The next few weeks have less volume; because it is now getting into Race Season. Recover and be ready to rip! Make sure you are feeling good after these couple of easier weeks. Hours
Mon AM

Tue AM
OFF - Walking

Wed AM SSK intensity Mixed Threshold L3 Intervals with L4's mixed in. Coaches advice: "Don't gut bust in these Intervals. Remember, this is a recovery week."

Usual warmup: 15min L1, 3min L2, 3min L3, 4x20sec accels on the 2min mark; then...

The intervals: 3 x 10 min at Level 3 intensity with a 2 min recovery between each 10 min bout.
* For the 1st interval add in a 4 min L4 intensity
* For the 2nd interval add in a 3 min L4 intensity
* For the 3rd interval add in a 2 min L4 intensity.

For example, interval 1: ski L3 for 3 min, ski L4 for 4 min, ski L3 for 3 min. It doesn't really matter where you put the 3 min L4 and the 2 min L4 intensity within your following intervals as long as you are skiing L3 in the beginning and ending in L3. The reason for this kind of workout is to get your body ready for mass start races by skiing at your "race pace/L3" and then throwing bursts of L4 in the interval as "surges" when a racer or your race pack decides to pick up the pace and you need to be able to stay with them. It lets your body deal with the rise and fall of lactic acid and gets you prepared rather then only experiencing it in a race.

After the final 10 min bout, take 1 min break followed by 4 x 1min intervals @ L4 with 1 min recovery. cool down 15 min.

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, then
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 Run Easy trail running 0:45


Fri AM SSK Easy skating with 4 x 20sec. accelerations "growing into fast" within good technique. Emphasis on technique, then picking up speed. 1:19


Sat AM SSK Intensity Hill Sprints L4 increasing VO2Max I did 15 x (30sec WFO/1:30min OFF) On the same uphill ea. time. Go farther each interval. Pace well, so can do all 15.

This workout came from my coach as 10-15 x (30sec WFO/2min OFF) but I was "counting challenged" haha and did 1:30 OFF. This was OK and I did not feel as if I built up a lot of lactate, and could complete the workout as instructed.

More details: Can be done skiing or on foot: warm up 20 min, add any L3 + accelerations needed. Then 10-15 x :30 sec @ L4 to as fast as you can go. 2 min rest between each interval.

Find a good uphill with good footing if running. If skiing, find a steep challenging hill. Make sure you pace well in the first half of the intervals. Do not go all out in the first one, or you will pay for it and probably not be able to finish the workout successfully.

You want to mark your starting point and continue to start from the same place. After your first 30 sec interval, mark where you end. Get to the end point each time or further. You do not want to come up short on the end point.

Also, my coach said, "End the workout knowing you could successfully complete another one at your furthest mark! This is going to be a hard workout! But a great one for working on those fast twitch muscle fibers! Cool down 10-15 min."


Sun AM SCL Overdistance Classic Skiing. First time on machine set tracks this season. Keep it easy L1 classic. Transfer skate double poling to classic: cues are high hips hands close, POOM! down pull down butt back weight over heels to get a good scoot. Get good kick bounce down and arms quick up at the time of the kick & close in for power vector to the heel when striding. These cues work for me. 2:19


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 Kinesiology Tape ...

I really like kinesiology tape for preventing sore heels due to overdoing it sometimes, especially when classic skiing. In fact, achilles tendinopathy is a common health condition of many cross country ski racers, according to studies printed in As soon as my heels, plantars and achilles started to feel a bit stressed, I immediately searched for solutions in order to prevent injuires. After experimenting with various athletic tapes, kinesiology tapes and even duct tape, I gotta tell you that I like them all for preventing me from overstretching important tendons due to overuse. Here are some Amazon shopping links to kinesiology tapes on Amazon...

shop kinesiology tape

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:

View more of my training log...

< previous
Go to Week
> next