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Season of David - Part XVIII
By:  David Zylberberg   (2003/08/27)


The following is part of a series of weekly articles by the "infamous" David Zylberberg, one of the original members of XC Ottawa. He is the writer of numerous amusing and sometimes controversial articles which have been the subject of much discussion within the Canadian cross-country racing community over the last 8 months. While David does not possess an advanced degree in physiology or sports science, hopefully the articles will be the source of much entertainment while you are putting off work, school, or chores. David's articles will be candid and will not be censored by the editors of XC Ottawa. (At least not usually) Please address your comments and questions directly to David.

Earlier this summer, the Ottawa-Gatineau NADC, of which I am a member, organized two week-long training camps in Eastern Canada. I was not able to attend due to my employer being unwilling to give me the weeks off work. But my contract expired on August 15th( and I got sent home at 9:15 that day due to uncertain electricity, computers not working, and a lack of work being produced by the courts). Since I had a few weeks before my return to Ottawa, I decided to make up for the lost training camp and hold my own. Since it was only me and Sudbury has good training opportunities, I stayed home and merely trained and recovered like at a training camp. It went quite well and I got fitter throughout the week, with the problem that the extra training could not use my added energy and I had too much energy to do other stuff well by SUnday. I know this just sounds like a normal training week, but the absence of distractions and the amount of training were like a camp and I should get the benefits of a dryland sea-level training camp. This week is filled with testing so I will see if my training camp helped.

This also brings me to discuss the upcoming season and how to train during it. I am referring to fall. Fall is perhaps the most difficult season in which to train effectively and plan training for. The priority in fall is effective training in order to prepare all of the systems needed to ski fast. This ends up emphasising intensity training, speedwork and high power strength and specific strength workouts. Fall training is what leaves a skier ready to race fast at the early races (this year they begin November 27th for Canada), which are always major events. The other side of all this is that the biggest races are in February and March (for some January and March), so that if one is peaking after fall training, they may not be skiing fast at those later dates. This is the situation for fall; prepare the body and mind to race fast, without being in peak condition in December.

Because fall emphasises all of this higher intensity training, training volume is generally reduced. This makes sense since too much intensity on a heavy volume month can lead to serious overtraining and getting too fast too quickly (leading to being tired in February). Also, the intensity is an added stress, that must be factored into the difficulty of a training program. I generally like to reduce training volume by about 1/4 from the big summer weeks to the fall. This allows me to recover a little better and be ready to do all of the workouts well now that they are harder. I will also increase intensity from 1-2 workouts/week to ~3 (I like doing 2 zone 4 and 1 zone 3 workout/week in fall with varying interval lengths and methods). This is the new emphasis. I should also add that these training amounts are what my body can handle and that younger skiers or ones with less of a training base should not jump into 3 intensity workouts and 15 hours/week for the entire fall.

Now comes a warning. Easy distance training is still important in this season and continues to provide benefits despite less being done. A few 2 hour zone 1 workouts a week and generally a long workout are added in order to maintain base fitness, promote recovery and increase blood volume. I have also noticed that in years where I ceased to do the zone 1 workouts in fall, I just became constantly slightly tired and unable to really train effectively in the hard workouts. Since, I am still training 6 days/week and the intensity is only 3 workouts, there may as well still be some strength and easy distance to train other aspects. Last year, I went a long period of time with 4-5 days/week of intensity (30-60 minutes of Z3 consecutive or hard intervals) with only a long workout for easy distance. This was not productive and led to being slightly tired a lot and not being able to do the intensity that effectively. You should be wary of these mistakes since it is more important to do 3 good hard workouts and 15 good hours than 4 mediocre workouts and 18 average hours.

I know fall is very complex and I hope I have allowed some stuff to make sense. Remember the priority this season is doing all workouts well and preparing to race fast in December and really fast in February-March.

Interesting Reading. . .
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