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My Cross Country Ski Training
Week 42
Racing in the dark on ice!

My race bib

This series shares my cross country ski training and racing, and this is Week 42 of my training/racing year, which started last May. That means it's race season, and everything I have prepared for is happening now.

snow dragon

The Fire Breathing Snow Dragon

First, about this week's images. It's not often that you get a chance to ski on 20 feet of ice out to a Fire Breathing Snow Dragon! Thanks to Dawn Cunningham on fb for posting the dragon from the race.

And next, here I am wearing my pre-race happy face while pinning on my race bib before the event.

getting ready to 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.

Dark Skies, Skittery Ice & Fire Breathing Dragon!

After last week's excitement, I was hoping for more. And I sure did get it, with this week's fast frolicking freestyle race in the dark and on the icy lake.

Four thousand other skiers, snowshoers and other cleat-wearers headed out at dusk, beneath starry skies on the frozen lake. Some were like me, and were out to enjoy the giddy feeling of going fast and frenzied on the skittery icy course. Others set out in a more leisurly fashion, taking pictures of Orion watching our antics from above, or making the journey while chatting with family and friends. As we made our ways along the course, we all marveled at the enromous fire breathing snow dragon and its minions, who greeted us at the half-way turn-around point on the course. Then, we all joined up to be together again at the finish line and party.

My personal race was a blast! In the dark and on ice, with only luminaries to light the way (such beautiful luminaries!) cross country ski racing becomes a surreal experience.

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 42...

Week 42 AM/PM Mode Workouts description: Goal hrs. ~8 This is the 3rd Week of 3 weeks with a race per week. Taper: A low volume week, just 1 tuneup interval workout mid-week, 2 days OFF Mon. & Tue., a super easy workout -or- day OFF 2 days prior to the race. No worries about meeting any goal hours for these 3 race weeks. Hours
Mon AM
OFF - Recover before doing any intervals - Keep up with the daily strengthening and stretching morning routine.

Tue AM Run L1 running on pavement. Try to run or fastwalk at least twice a week, because running season is approaching. 1:00


Wed AM SSK Intensity: Coach's advice: "Only do these intervals if you feel really recovered from last week's last race." This is an All-Zones workout given to me by my coach for during a racing season.

Warm up 15-20 min. L1

1x3min.L2 / 1min OFF,
1x3min.L3 / 1min OFF,
2x30secL4 / 1min OFF,
2-4x15sec.accelerations / 1min OFF, (2023: I did 2),
2-4x2minL3 gradually rising to L4 / 2 min.OF (2023: I did 2),
6-10x1min.L4 / 1min OFF (2003: I did 6).

Cooldown ~15min. Skiing back to the trailhead. I also finished up with 10 min. hiking a loop, heading out on icy road then back on firm but punching through snow, for a bit more strenuous hiking.

More coach's advice for the workout: "Should feel pretty hard at the end, and the speed should be fast, but make sure you are not creating too much lactic acid. You want this workout to end and you feel like you could do a couple more. This is to get your body moving through all of it's zones and to feel good before the the race -or- time trail coming up this weekend & for the end of the season races!"

PM WT RM Winter Strength Goal: maintenance. Start on a new workout this week.

WARMUP: 15 min.
* snowshoeing in deep snowfor 5 min.
* cycling w. varied RPM for 10 min.

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

LEGS ONE SET all w. 30 sec. rests:
* Goblet Squat elbows to knees w. weight 20 reps.
* Squat Jump 10 reps.
* Front Lunge w. weight 20 reps.
* Goblet Side Squats/Pushing off w. weight 5 reps per leg (work up to 10 reps per leg)
* V2 side-to-side jumps 5 reps per leg (work up to 10)

*Bent Over Row w. weight 5 reps per arm (work up to 10 reps per arm)
* Pullups 5 (coach instructions: 3-8)
* Bench Dips 20
Thu AM
OFF - 2 days prior to race - Walked down to the lake and back.


Fri AM Other Fastwalking almost jogging down to the lake and back. Oops! The intervals and strength workout last Wed. made me sore, so I am hoping to feel recovered by the time this weekend's race rolls around. 0:45

PM SSK easy ski skating on flat like the race this weekend will be w. 6x20 sec. accelerations 0:45
Sat AM SSK Race: 10K Skate Race on icy lake. Usual warmup prior to the race: 15min. L1, 3 min. L2, 3 min. L3, 4x30 sec. accelerations, an acceleration off the starting line at the last minute, then keep moving until the start. Estimated race duration was ~38min. from a prior time doing this race a few years ago, but this year my time is faster 34 min! I was happy to have recovered and to have a really exciting race on this fast course with super icy sections and many racers to compete with. In the dark with luminaries lighting the way! Therefore, frenzied and fun! Lots of V2 and my double poling was my strength on the hard ice sections. I broke off a metal pole tip double poling into the last couple hundred yards! Yes, that ice was as hard as diamond. And No, I did not count all my wild dancing during the after party as training. But maybe I should have. 2:00


Sun AM SSK Easy fun recovery ski on flat terrain then some hills, keeping to walking on some of the hills to keep the effort not-too-high, then back to skiing on flatter terrain for the last half hour. 1:37


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.)

Cleats for Running on Ice ...

Before this week's race on the icy lake, everybody enjoyed the novelty of walking out on the ice. Those who had cleats on their boots were enjoying it more. For running and walking on that skittery stuff, here's a link to cleats for running and walking on ice...

buy running shoe cleats for ice

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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