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My Cross Country Ski Training
Week 40

Tom and Mary Kay are snow hiking

This series shares my cross country ski training and racing, and this is Week 40 of my training/racing year, which started last May. That means it's race season, and everything I have prepared for is happening now.

my cross country ski race start

First, about this week's images. Look at me out front in this week's race! It's been a number of years since I got to skate into the first turn at the front of the pack. Even if my lead dwindled pretty quickly, it sure was fun while it lasted! And, the circle image is my husband Tom and I out for a recovery hike on snowy trails, the day after the race. As for the top-of-page header image, that's me racing in a raging snowstorm during the Yellowstone Rendezvous cross country ski marathon.

Taper. Then Race!

Here goes a taper week, to usher in the next three weekends of racing to come. To me, that means:

  • Don't worry about meeting any training volume goals.
  • Take a few days off during the week.
  • Do a mid-week light session of intervals.
  • Ski on the course the day before the race, and add in a few 20 second accelerations.
  • Get to the start line refreshed, warmed up, and ready to race!

So how did my race go? The super hilly course was a physical challenge, of course. And, I was glad to have the energy to work all the hills using the new skating style that I have recently started to work on.

About that hole-shot start of mine putting myself at the front of the pack in the first turn, it meant I got a chance to have my picture at the front of the pack in a facebook post for the venue. Could racing be any better than that? Maybe I'll find out after recovering and racing again next week, eh?

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 40...

Week 40 AM/PM Mode Workouts description:"Goal hrs. ~ 9" 1st Week of 3 weeks with a race per week. Taper: A low volume week, just 1 tuneup intervals mid-week,OFF Mon.& 2 days prior to race. No worries about meeting any goal hours for these 3 race weeks Hours
Mon AM

Tue AM Run Run L1 easy. Aiming to run 2x per week through the rest of Winter. Or, at least one run per week plus another workout of weight bearing on-my-feet such as hiking or fast walking. 1:06

Wed AM SSK Intensity: Do these intervals on flat & slight uphill terrain - maybe a specific loop to complete the entire workout on. Focus is moving faster on flatter more unstable terrain!

Coach's instructions warmup: warm up 20-30 min, add in 1 x 3:00 min L3 & 4-6 x 10-15 sec accelerations. My workout: warmup 20 min L1, 3 min L2m, 3 min L3, 4x20 sec accelerations. I like my warmup for its gradually increasing intensity.

Coach's instructions given to me for the intervals: 4, 3, 2, 1, min on @ L4 with 2 min recovery between each interval. + 4-6 x :30 sec of hard fast skiing. 2 min recovery between each. Easy cool down My workout: ack! I inadvertently doubled the L4 times, therefore I did 8, 6, 4, 2 min on @ L4 with 2 min recovery between each interval. I did not do the 30 sec. intervals at the end. I need to get an interval timer app for variable intervals, to solve my counting issues.

Coach's advice: You should feel like the interval efforts are hard, but you should end this workout knowing that you could have done 2 more :30 second intervals and been faster/made it further. You do not want to spend all your energy in intervals, but use them as a tune up for the race! End feeling good and with more energy to spare!


Thu AM
OFF – 2 days prior to race – Wax skis.


Fri AM SSK travel day - easy skate ski on the course w. 4x20sec.accel's 0:45


Sat AM SSK 24K Skate Race - warmup 20 min L1, 3 min L2m, 3 min L3, 4x20 sec accelerations then ski and keep moving until the start. During the race, I focused on using the new V1 uphill technique 2:45


Sun AM Other Snow Hiking on Packed Trails. Sort of almost jogging. 0:45


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 skiing 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 classic skiing. I have a Nathan pack that I love, but there are many other makers. So 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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