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My Cross Country Ski Training
Week 39
(Rest & Recover)

cross country ski racing

This series shares my cross country ski training and racing, and this is Week 39 of my training/racing year, which started last May. That means it's race season, and everything I have prepared for is happening now.

Tom and Mary Kay Aufrance

First, about this week's images. My favorite training partner and love-of-my-life husband Tom and I pose with our Majestic Tour Bus after Sunday's long ski on beautifully tracked cross country ski trails. Can you tell we're ready for lunch and a nap? And, the tiny image is from last Sunday's race (thanks to Sistah Stash from Cheboygan). As for the top-of-page header image, that's me racing in a raging snowstorm during the Yellowstone Rendezvous cross country ski marathon.

Time to Rest and Recover

After two consecutive weekends of half-marathons in a row, it was no surprise to be feeling pooped. Additionally, a few respiratory symptoms were stuffing up my nose and scratching at my throat. Therefore, my body was telling me that this week should definitely focus on rest and recovery. The instructions on all my old training plans, that I got from my coach, made it clear: "No hard intervals until you are feeling recovered."

Therefore, both Tom and I started the week easy and with low volume, and we did everything necessary and took all the nostrums recommended to clear up our respiratory symptoms. Then, toward the end of the week, we felt pretty good! So, we tested our abilities with an interval workout, felt good afterwards, and then were happy to be able to wrap up the week with a long ski.

Currently feeling good, we are ready for next week's training (which will be a low volume taper week) before another race.

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 39...

Week 39 AM/PM Mode Workouts description: Goal hrs. 10-11 Higher volume than weeks 37-38 because this is a Non-Racing Regular Training Week: A typical race-season training week features: a day off at the beginning of the week, 1-2 strength session(s), one intensity when and if recovered from last race, and an overdistance long easy ski at the end of the week. Hours
Mon AM
OFF - Keeping up the every-morning balancing and strength routine

Tue AM Run Run L1 easy. Keeping up with a little running all Winter. Warmup jogging 10 min.; Run 50 min.; Then hiking steep uphill in deep snow. 1:45


Wed AM Other Not yet recovered from last week's race. So, I went hiking today. 0:55

PM WT RM Winter Strength December-January. Goal: maintenance. Today I changed all durations to 30 sec. durations with 30 sec. rests

* shoveling heavy snow, busting up hardpack
* snowshoeing in deep snow to create a path to my pullup bar

CORE all 30 sec. w. 30 sec. 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 30 sec. w. 30 sec. rests:
* Goblet squat elbows to knee level w. weight
* Side Pull with band on ankle pulling from side extended to inward
* Goblet Side Squats/Pushing off w. weight
* Goblet Big Steps Forward (Slow Lunges to Knees) w. weight

UPPER BODY all 20 reps:
* Dips on Dip Bar
* Add in 5 lower myself down on Dip Bar
* One-Arm Pulldowns
* Pullups
Thu AM SCL L1 Classic Skiing very gentle grades w. 6x20sec.accel's and about 10min. of the following drill: Rotate through this sequence, diagonal striding while varying back ski tip/heel/leg height as follows. Go 6 strides with low heel, 6 with medium high, and then 6 with high heel height. High height yields power striding. 1:35


Fri AM SSK L1-L2 skating on various grades w. accel's on several (8-10) of the short steep uphills, but herringbone walking on most of them to keep it easy. 1:06

PM Run L1 running ~30min. Immediately after skiing. I am trying to run 2 times per week from now on, or at least get in one run plus some on-my-feet weight bearing exercise such as hiking or fast walking, because running season is only a couple of months away. 0:29
Sat AM SSK Feeling recovered from the races, so I did Intensity L3 Threshold: Warmup - 15min.L1, 2minL2, 2minL3, 4x15-20sec.accels; Then one of the following threshold workouts that are designed for ski racing season.

a. 2x10min L3 w. 5minOFFs (Today I did this one L3 rising to L4 w. more L4 in the 2nd interval)
b. Multi-Pace 2x6min L3 then 3x1.5 L4
c. 4x4min. L3 increasing to L4


Sun AM SSK overdistance: L1 easy ski someplace different and fun. Duration at least 2:30. Very hilly terrain requires walking some hills to keep the effort easy. 2:33


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.)

Hydration Belts...

The perfect hydration belt for cross country ski training is one with a small pack for carrying along snacks or waxes. I like a not-too-large pack that is also not too wide, so that it doesn't interfere with my arm swing when poling, especially during classic skiing. I have a Nathan pack that I love, and I am wearing it in the image on this page. However, there are many other models of butt packs that work great for cross country skiing. Therefore, here are just a few links to hydration packs that look great for cross country skiers.

shop hydration packs

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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