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My Cross Country Ski Training
Week 37
(First Big Race)

cross country ski racing

This series shares my cross country ski training activities, and this is Week 37 of my training year, which started last May.

cross country ski race

First, about the images, before getting into the details of this week's training. I am kicking up the sparkly snow with the other ladies as we crest a hill. Thank you to Chris Schmidt for this image! And, in the round image, that's me out on the starting line and ready to go in this week's race. As for the top-of-page image, that's me racing in a raging snowstorm during the Yellowstone Rendezvous cross country ski marathon.

First Big Race

This week features a classic taper for my first big race of the season. It was a super low volume week, leading up to the race. Then, after the race, a slow starting recovery ski.

As for results, my finish time was not as stellar as I had hoped for, since I got a bit trounced by some competitors who I had previously trounced last year. That's racing!

However, I was happy with my technique, having great grip on the uphills that's for sure, probably due to putting too much kick wax on my skis, but I also have improved my uphill running form. I did race to my limit, and just after a race is the time to limit one's self-loathing.

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 37...

Week 37 AM/PM Mode Workouts description: Goal hrs. ~8 - A Race Week "Performance Taper" low volume, just 1 tuneup intervals, OFF Mon. & 2 days prior to race Hours
Mon AM
OFF - Continue daily 10 min. exercise routine for balance-on-one-foot, stretching strengthening of feet, and glute activation.

Tue AM Run Run L1 easy on snow covered/icy deck roads and trails 0:58


Wed AM SCL Pre-Race Tuneup/Light intervals: warmup: 15min L1, 3min L2, 3min L3, 4x20sec accelerations, then 1,2,3,3,2,1min.ON/2min.OFF L3-L4+, then cooldown. This is the workout for all race week Wednesdays. 1:05


Thu AM
OFF - 2 days prior to race


Fri AM SCL L1 ski on the course and do 6 20 sec. accelerations throughout the ski, with at least 2 min. between accel's 1:00


Sat AM SCL Race: 22K Classic. Plan for ~1:40 duration. Warmup ~1 hr. as usual: 15 min. L1, 3 min. L2, 3 min. L3, 4x20 sec. accelerations. In the race, focus on technique and do not go out way too hard. After 18K pickup the tempo in my stride and keep good technique. Finish speedy. 2:47


Sun AM SCL L1 recovery ski. Start slow and keep it easy. Ski only on very gentle grades. 1:38


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.)

Chums Eyewear Retainers...

In a prior post, I wrote that I was going to try out Tifosi Sports Glasses for cross country ski racing. After trying out these glasses with their vented lense, I can say they did not fog up in training and did not fog up in my race. So, I like them! To complete my Great Find, I went looking for some Chums eyewear retainers, and found that chums now available in many styles and sizes, to fit different types of sports glasses. That's great!

chums eyewear retainers

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...

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