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My Cross Country Ski Training
Week 41
A Peak Experience

my donut

This series shares my cross country ski training and racing, and this is Week 41 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 rewards beer and donuts

First, about this week's images. The rewards of cross country ski racing are beer, donuts and happiness. Tom and I are enjoying ours, as we celebrate after this week's race. Thank you to fellow racer Jon Jurek for this memento! As for the top-of-page header image, that's me racing in a raging snowstorm during the Yellowstone Rendezvous cross country ski marathon.

My Peak Experience

At the start of this week, I had begun to reflect on how this year's racing somehow seemed to lack excitement. Even though my training had been pretty much textbook in execution, I just wasn't doing as well as I had wanted (or had done last year). By "doing well" I was not only referring to race results. I wondered, "Where's the sparkle? The excitement! The fly-and-wheelie feeling that this former motocrosser craves from racing?"

So, I had doubts about my training and racing. Was my racing schedule turning out to be too difficult for me? Were there too many half-marathon races stacked together on successive weekends? Or, had I done too many intervals, or not enough roller skiing? Or, was I not yet recovered from the virus? Or, what? So, darn, I asked myself, "Will the excitement and exhuberance come back into my cross country ski racing this season?"

But, then voila along came this week's race, which was a peak experience in many ways! In fact, it was peak in about 24 ways; because, that's how many super steep hills there were throughout the course. But, the snow was fast, my skis got faster and faster as the race progressed, and the course was filled with twists and turns and terrain suited to racers with good balance and fast form. It was perfectly designed to encourage energy, enthusiasm and excitement of cross country ski racing. Also, there were lots of other racers out there to go back and forth with, catchup to, get away from, and motivate! So, yeah! My race was super way good!

A race experience like I had this week brings a personal joy that goes beyond finish times, age group podiums and training metrics. It's what keeps this cross country ski racer going!

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 41...

Week 41 AM/PM Mode Workouts description: Goal hrs. ~9. This is the 2nd week of 3 weeks during which I am racing every weekend. So, taper: A low volume week. Just 1 tuneup interval workout mid-week. OFF Mon&Tue. A super easy workout 2 days prior to race. Then race! No worries about meeting any goal hours for these 3 race weeks. Hours
Mon AM

Tue AM

Wed AM SSK Very light intervals: warmup 15min L1, 3 min L2, 3 min L3; then 6 fartlek hills of about 30 sec. each with ~2 min between hills; then easy L1 cooldown skiing 1:15

PM Other Hiking on snow covered road directly after skiing. I am aiming for weight-bearing on-foot exercise 2 x per week for the duration of Winter, because running season will be here soon. 0:25
Thu AM SSK Keep it easy because this is 2 days prior to race. 0:48

PM Other Hiking on firmly packed snow. Go easy: just sprightly enough to get some aerobic and weight-bearing benefit. 0:12
Fri AM SSK Easy skate ski w. 6x20sec.accelerations. 0:30


Sat AM SSK 26K Skate Race. Rather than my usual pre-race warmup, I did 15 min. walking, 15 min. L1 skiing on the first couple of K of the race course, 4 x 20 sec. accelerations for quickness of movement with 2 min. between accel's; then 3 min. L2; then 3 min. L3, then keep moving by skiing or fidgeting in the starting area until the race starts. This is an easier warmup, because I did not stress my body on any hills. Then, when starting the race I went out more cautiously than usual, for the first few kilometers, because these K were on an extended uphill. After reaching the top of this hill, I started to go go go. After the race: easy skiing on the flat for ~15 min. or so. 2:45


Sun AM SSK Post race recovery ski easy and fun. 1:38

PM Other Hiking roads and snow directly after skiing. It's good to get some weight-bearing exercise on my feet 3 times this week. 0:22
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.)

CamelBak Podium Chill Bottle ...

Here's our choice of insulated water bottles that work great for cross country skiing and just about any other endurance sport, such as running, hiking or cycling. For years, Tom and I have had good experiences with CamelBak water bottles: the Podium Chill is especially great for ski touring, since we purchased the insulated model that keeps our hydration from freezing. Here's a link to CamelBak water bottles...

shop CamelBak water bottles

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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