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My Cross Country Ski Training
Week 38
(A Big Skate Race)

cross country ski racing

This series shares my cross country ski training and racing, and this is Week 38 of my training/racing year, which started last May. That means it's race season, and everything I have prepared for is happening now.

cross country ski race

First, about the images, before getting into the details of this week's training. Here we are on the starting line, ladies with our race faces on and ready to go! And the circle image is my post race happy face! And below you will find me with Don Camp, new cross country ski racing friend who drove a whole day to get to the race with his wife Shell. Then, Don won his age group and I won mine! Many thanks to Sistah Stash (AKA Shell) for these images. As for the top-of-page header image, that's me racing in a raging snowstorm during the Yellowstone Rendezvous cross country ski marathon.

The Skating Race

This week features another standard taper for a race, similar to last week. It was another super low volume week, leading up to a 28K skating race at the end of the week. Then, on the day after the race, it was time for a nice and easy recovery ski.

As for my race, it was great! I loved every minute of it! Skate ski racing has always been my favorite.

When I was helping coach our local kids team, I would always ask each athlete, "What are you most proud of that you did in your race?" and also, "What did you learn that you can work on for the next race." So, here goes with my self-evaluation. What one thing am I proud of? I would have to say it is that I chose techniques that would go the fastest on any given part of the trail. For example, I saved energy while going faster when I caught up to some racers by using a sort-of-obsolete technique called the marathon skate! That's because the tracks were sometimes icy and fast, while the skate lane was softish and slower. Therefore, on those parts of the course, my fastest and less taxing way to go was double poling with one foot gliding along in the classic track and the other leg providing some extra push by edging and skating off to the side.

As for what can I work on? Understandably my legs could have used more oomph in the last 2 kilometers of extended climbing, and in the midst of Lincoln Log legs, I need to improve my ability to hold onto my steep hill technique, in order to get to the top faster. That's racing!

new racing friend Don Thanks Shell from Cheboyban

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 38...

Week 38 AM/PM Mode Workouts description: Goal hrs. ~9:45 - A Race Week "Performance Taper" low volume, just 1 tuneup intervals, OFF Mon. & 2 days prior to race Light Speeds & Recover From Race Before Any Hard Intervals Hours
Mon AM
OFF - Recovery Day. Hike down to the lake and back. Continue daily 10 min. exercise routine for balance-on-one-foot, stretching strengthening of feet, and glute activation. 0:30

Tue AM Run Run L1 easy. Hike 10 min.; Run 50 min.; Hike steep uphill road/trail ~30 min. Keep up with a little running all Winter. 1:31


Wed AM SSK Pre-Race Tuneup/Light intervals: Skate Skiing since next race is a skatign race. Warmup: 15min L1, 3min L2, 3min L3, 4x20sec accelerations, then 1,2,3,3,2,1min.ON/2min.OFFs L3-L4+, then cooldown. This is my workout for all race week Wednesdays. 1:02

PM WT RM Winter Strength Ski Specific Circuit for Pre-Race and Race Season December-January. Goal: maintenance.

* cycling 10min. w. varied RPM

CORE all 30 sec. w. 1 min. rests:
* Front Plank picking up legs alternately
* Side Planks w. weight arm vertical then circle below chest
* Russian Twist w. weight
* Leg flutter
* Tricep Pushups elbows close to body

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

UPPER BODY 20 reps. ea. all w. 1 min. rests:
* Dips on Dip Bar
* One-Arm Pulldowns R then L 20 per arm
* Pullups
Thu AM Other Easy or OFF 2 days prior to race. Hike down to the lake and back up via the trail. 0:30

PM Other Shoveling foot-deep new snow in snowstorm! If it wasn't such heavy work, I would not count this as training. 0:30
Fri AM SSK L1 ski the course and do 4-6 20sec. accelerations 1:00


Sat AM SSK Race! 28K Skate - plan for ~2 hr. duration - warmup: 15min L1, 3min L2, 3min L3, 4x20sec accelerations, then Race! Focus: balance! Hold onto your steep hill technique in the final climbs. 2:40


Sun AM SSK Easy recovery ski: easy skate ski on varied terrain. Some hills but kept a lid on it by herringboning and single sticking. 1:15


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.)

About Core Strength Exercises...

For cross country skiers, a lot of the strength training exercises are the same as general workouts for improving posture, building balance and relieving (or preventing!) back pain. Here are some links to Amazon books about developing core strength.

books about core exercises

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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