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My Cross Country Ski Training
Week 36
(Change of Plans)

the spoils cross country ski racing

This series shares my cross country ski training activities, and this is Week 36 of my training year, which started last May.

cross country skiing in the snowy wonderland with my friend Joy

First, about the images, before getting into the details of this week's training. In the large image above, here I am with my friend Joy, who I often see out in the winter wonderland that we call cross country skiing. In the circle image, you see that the winnings in cross country ski racing are yummy and fun, as I enjoy mine from the final race of last spring. I'm hoping to win these again and again. As for the top-of-page image, that's me racing in a raging snowstorm during the Yellowstone Rendezvous cross country ski marathon.

Change of Plans

To review the past 3 weeks, this week was spec'd out to be the third of a 3-week countdown to a race and the start of full-blown racing season, with a race nearly every weekend all winter long. However, this weekend's race was cancelled due to poor conditions and not enough snow at the venue. Thankfully, the cancellation email arrived soon enough to change training plans, thereby avoiding tapering for no reason.

Due to the race cancellation, instead of tapering this week (with just one light intensity session during the mid-week and an extra day off 2 days prior to the race), I switched to a typical race-season training week, which features:

  • a day off at the beginning of the week,
  • 2 intensity sessions spaced a few days apart,
  • and an overdistance long easy ski at the end of the week.
This change turned out to be a lot of fun, plus an opportunity to keep making progress on technique and fitness.

After this week, the taper week will be appropriate, since the next race venue has enough snow and is good to go.

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. When all weekly posts are complete, this blog shows an entire training year, based on US Ski Association and professional coaching plans for middle distance cross country ski racers. It's the kind of detailed information I wish I had early on in my ski racing. So enjoy! You can view more of my training log by clicking on one of the navigation links below.

So let's check out Week 36...

Week 36 AM/PM Mode Week 36 Goal: Due to race cancellation, change from “Race Week Performance Taper" to General Race Season Training. Delay tapering until next week. Hours
Mon AM
OFF - Continue every morning: 10 min. balance stretch and strengthening exercises.

Tue AM Run L1 running. Keep up a little running all Winter long. 0:42


Wed AM SSK Pre-Race Light intervals*: Warmup: 15min L1, 3min L2, 3min L3, 4x20sec accelerations, then do a pyramid 1min, 2min, 3min, 3min, 2min, 1min.ON/2min.OFFs at L3-L4+, then do a 20sec short hill accelleration, then cooldown.

*This is the workout for mid-week during race season; however, later today, an email arrived that the Saturday race has been cancelled, so the rest of this week is no longer going to be a taper-and-race week.


Thu AM SCL L1 classic ski 30degF new snow soft but new tracks 1:42


Fri AM SCL L1 classic ski similar to yesterday 1:35

Sat AM SCL Intensity L4 VO2Max: The usual warmup 15min.L1, 2minL2, 2minL3, 4x15-20sec.accels; then 4x(4minL4/4minOFF) on varied terrain (I did 2 on long gradual uphills and 2 on rolling terrain with steep uphills), then L1 easy skiing cooldown

My coach likes this workout to be done on the same segment of the trail for each interval, and says to try to go farther each time; but, I also like this workout with some variety of terrain, such as lots of uphills and twisty turny technical challenges; and in this case, I like to go quicker, faster and more powerfully for each interval.

This workout is based on coaching wisdom for race season, “Start doing VO2max intervals in the fall, six weeks to eight weeks before the race season. Continue doing one session of VO2max intervals until your first race week. Once the race season starts, a race will substitute for a VO2max interval session. If you’ve got a week without a race, include a VO2max interval set of 4 x 4 minutes.”


Sun AM SSK Overdistance (This workout duration is 150% the time it takes to complete my longest race): L1 long ski on an upcoming race course that I will be doing in the Spring. Keep it easy L1. It's difficult to avoid going into L2 or higher due to hills, so I just try to keep the effort low as possible. For example, today I could do lots of double poling to keep it easy and because the tracks were fast :-) 2:40


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.)

Tifosi Sports Glasses...

Last week, I wrote about my choice in glasses for cross country ski racing. I said that I like glasses that are functional and cheap, because it's just too annoying to spend a lot of money on expensive way-cool glasses that I will probably scratch up or break. But today, uncharacteristically, I decided to pickup a pair of Tifosi Alliant sports glasses, because I really want to try out the vented lenses. Here are some links to Tifosi sports glasses...


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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