.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

Training Log: Early Season
By:  Karl Saidla   (2008/06/04)


I was slightly apprehensive about writing this "training blog" thing because I thought it might wind up being another addition to the World Wide Web that is basically a "this is how much and how hard I trained last week (and it was really no big deal for me, but I am sure you will be really impressed)" kind of thing. Please call me if I start to fall into this trap and start writing things like:

Monday, AM: 5 hr Z1 road bike ride. Heart rates no more than 120, average speed 40-45km per hour in some of tough hills south of Merrickville. Consumed 2.344 litres of Opti-Electrocarbomaxpower RS sport drink. No chain kind of feeling all day. Gave me confidence that I am exactly where I need to be right now in my pursuit of THE GOAL.

PM: Bench press-NEW RECORD: 278lbs. I've only done about 3 weight workouts this year, so I'm pretty pleased with my progress so far. My new bench press ability is sure to translate into some killer double poling. Joey said I made it look easy. Didn't even get sore afterwards. Made sure to drink Cromagnonman Power Stax Whey protein drink afterwards. Also sat in 0C water for 13 minutes for recovery. THE GOAL is within reach….I

OK, so here goes my attempt at NOT doing that.

First, I would like to provide a bit of context. The training plans that most of us use at XC Ottawa start in the first week of May. Throughout the summer we do progressively tougher four week cycles of training until the end of August, at which point we take a short break before beginning 3 week training cycles including higher percentages of high intensity training in the fall. In terms of hours of training, the first four week cycle was something like 12, 14, 17, 18.

Our summer training is generally focused on a large volume of low intensity training, relatively large amounts of strength work (both general and specific), and smaller amounts of high intensity training, which is generally conducted in Z3. Ski specific activities comprise a higher percentage of the training as the summer goes on. Typically, we might do about between 20 minutes and an hour of intensity work, 2-4 hours of strength work, 20-40 minutes of speed/sprints, and the rest would be easy distance training.

Last week was the 1st week (easy week) of the second 4 week cycle of training for the year. During the first cycle my goals were mainly to do some reasonable training using a wide variety of activities, and to get myself adjusted to all the summer training activities such as running, kayaking, canoeing, cycling etc.

In other words, during the last cycle I was mainly trying to get myself in a position where I could actually start to pursue some more serious training starting around now. The coming four weeks, therefore, will see a significant increase in the overall volume, an increase in the intensity of strength work, and gradual incorporation of more ski specific activity (rollerskiing and ski walking/striding). The following are some notes on last week, with a little commentary here and there.

Monday: Day off. During easy weeks, I try to have one day that is completely off training. I don't think I did anything other than stroll around downtown a bit at lunch.

Tuesday: XC Ottawa practice. This workout included some ski striding technique work, some plyometric strength work (various types of ski imitation bounding, including tire dragging), and also some general strength work (push ups, uphill crabwalk etc.) The workout takes about 90 minutes in total.

Wednesday: I meant to do a 2 hour combination workout of paddling (kayak) followed by trail running. I forgot my paddle! So I ran on the trails for about 2hrs in Z1 with ex-teammate Brian and XC Ottawa wax helper Judy. In the afternoon I did the first weight workout of this cycle with Megan. This included mainly general strength exercises (4-6 reps), some core work, and some shoulder rehabilitation work.

Thursday: I had planned to rollerski and do some technique drills, but the road I had planned on using was still not open for rollerskiing, so I did about an hour and a quarter trail run/ski walk with Megan after work.

I am a very convinced of the merits of trail running/ski walking. Trail running, in addition to being fun, is more specific to skiing than regular running, and builds strength and coordination. For the same amount of time it is tougher than roller skiing or cycling, as you have to keep working even when you are going downhill. Bringing your poles and ski walking/striding with good technique means that the workout employs both the upper and lower body and is even more ski specific. I would argue that ski walking and striding are better training for diagonal stride than roller skiing.

Friday: Rode my bike to work in the morning with Megan, which is about 35 minutes of steady easy riding. In the afternoon I met Megan and we rode to the weight room, which takes about 45 minutes. We did a weight workout of a total of about an hour, and then rode 10 minutes home to cool down. This is a type of training day that I do fairly frequently during the summer. Training while commuting can be very efficient. While road biking isn't all that ski specific, not all training needs to be. Later in the summer we actually do some commuting with roller skis, which is specific, but results in a much longer workout!

Saturday: I cycled with Megan and Craig for about 2hrs, around Gatineau Park in pouring rain. While I don't like the rain, I really do like road riding, particularly in Gatineau Park as a non-specific summer workout. There are lots of medium length, medium steepness hills, so I would argue it is closer to skiing than most road riding is. Plus, it's fun! I do a fair bit of road riding in the first part of the summer.

You will also notice that I do a fair bit of training with Megan, which might have you wondering if I am going hard enough, or if she is going slow enough. I think the answer is yes in both cases. Megan is, relatively speaking, a better road bike rider than I am. In most cases, these workouts are at fairly easy intensities anyway. We often train together when pace doesn't matter very much-such as in recovery oriented sessions. If we are doing a more focused type of workout, we split up.

Sunday: This day was the first of XC Ottawa's "Z3 Gatineau Park Loop Time Trials". On the Sunday of each easy week we do a time trial of the Gatineau Park Loop while keeping our heart rates no higher than what we guess to be the middle of Z3. I really like this test, despite seeing very little variation in my times over the past three summers. It takes us about an hour and a quarter, and every time I do it I am within a minute of all my other times. What I like about is that it really motivates you to ski efficiently, and you learn some lessons about pacing and technique choice etc quite easily.

Overall, I was pretty happy with this week of training. I feel pretty comfortable doing most of my new training activities, and I am definitely not getting as sore as I was a few weeks ago. I would have liked to have got out at least once in the kayak, which is another of my favorite and more frequently performed non-specific training activities, mainly because it is a good option for developing general upper body endurance. I also would have liked to have rollerskied one more time. Finally, I had a goal of accumulating 40 minutes of stretching, and I don't think I got more than about 25 minutes in. On the other hand, it is the month May, and it is an easy week, so I am inclined to cut myself just a little slack and not worry too much about the details.

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