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Training Log: Making the best of summer distractions
By:  Sheila Kealey   (2008/07/14)

Readers of the first few XC Ottawa training logs will note that our summer training can be quite diverse, reflecting our goals, athletic background, strengths/weaknesses, and training milieu (we’ve already had reports from Yukon, Sweden, and the Cayman Islands . . .). As the racing season approaches, you’ll see less variety, more ski specificity, and training logs that are more similar, but hopefully still a good read!

Family and full time work heavily influence how I train, and at this time of year, along with the other often welcomed summer distractions, triathlons figure into my training. Although it would make things a lot easier to skip the racing and focus more on one sport, it’s something I love too much to stop. This racing certainly isn't my main focus, and I'm also not convinced it takes that much away from my ski performances. I find swimming great for upper body strength and active recovery workouts, cycling is just synonymous with summer, good for quad strength and easy distance, and running a natural complement to ski training.

Like most XC Ottawa athletes, my summer training typically follows a 4-week periodized cycle, gradually building up the hours for 3 weeks and resting the 4th week. From May through September, the total hours in these 4-week blocks increase, and the volume some weeks is often twice what we’ll be doing in the winter when we want to be fast. This higher volume makes it easier to allow enough swim-bike-run workouts to make the summer racing enjoyable while still including some ski specificity.  Weekly intensity at this time of year is typically Zone 3 intervals and sprints, but I usually add one more intensity session running or cycling. I try to get much more ski specific in August, and by September my training focus is almost 100% xc skiing.

My workout weeks don't always have ideal work/rest ratios, since I’m often just fitting things in when it’s possible. On the "schedule" last week was a high-volume (16 hours), and I worked my training around house guests and a family trip on the weekend. Inspired by this article, we planned an overnight bike trip to Carleton Place (about 65km each way), my son and husband riding a borrowed tandem, and me pulling our gear.

Here’s what the week looked like:

Monday: Early AM – run to Carleton U, weight room strength 30 mins; swim with Carleton U Masters 45 mins (freestyle). AM - easy distance bike ride in Gatineau Park (2h:30min). (Big day - took advantage of some free time that I might not have later in the week).

PM – XC Ottawa dryland workout at Mooney's Bay – ski striding,  intervals pulling tires (about 1 min on/2.5 min off X 10), and plyometrics.

Wednesday: Early AM - Easy distance combination workout: short run to Carleton U, Easy bit of strength/stretch (20 mins mostly core, some light upper body); swim masters workout (freestyle); 65 min easy run on soft surfaces (arboretum/grass).

Thursday. AM – run in arboretum. V02 max intervals. 4 x loops (alternating flat loop (about 1km) and hilly twisty loop (about 1200m) with about 3 mins rest. 30 mins yoga/stretch.

Friday – Early AM – classic rollerski on bike paths (1 hr 40 mins). This included
- Zone 1
- 20 mins of 10- to 15-second sprints on varied terrain. Rest about 1.5-2 mins between sprints.
- 15 mins of upper body strength (double pole with speed reducers on for increased resistance)

PM – Easy warm-up run with some quick foot agility (25 mins), weight room strength (45 mins)

Saturday – Family bike trip Day 1. About 2-4 hrs
Sunday – Family bike trip Day 2. About 2-4 hrs


This week was good and I managed to fit things in (which certainly isn't always the case!) but overall it might have been a bit too hard (too many hours/not enough recovery between harder workouts). I started the week with a big day since Thursday-Sunday were going to be pretty unpredictable. In hindsight, incorporating a rest day mid week would have been a good idea. I'll start the following week off with a rest day to be sure I'm recovered and ready for a new week of training.

  • I guess the biggest surprise this week was the weekend bike trip (intensity, length of time, etc.). I thought it would be really easy and almost like active rest days, so I put several intense days before it. I was wrong.  John and Evan were pretty fast on the tandem and I was keeping up pulling a load, so it was more of a stress on my body than I anticipated. We were also out for a considerable amount of time in sun or rain, which can be draining even when you aren't moving. But it was really fun! Although it made a harder training week, I’ll have to admit the experience was great for all and a new way to incorporate the family into training (once we get our own tandem, that is. . . ).
  • Ski Specificity: This week lacked ski specificity.  I typically try to have three ski-specific workouts in July (1 dryland; 2 rollerski), but this week was less specific with only 2.
  • Work/Rest. I tend to string a lot of workouts together back-to-back (often Mon-Wed-Fri mornings when I sometimes do weights, swim, and run, mostly all before 8:00 AM). This is simply for time efficiency, to be back home to help out, and have a free evening. Ideally, you'd probably want to split these workouts up for better recovery and do one later in the day.

Weekend Bike Trip from Ottawa to Carleton Place. The route was ideal and almost without cars. We travelled on bike paths out of the city, then followed the Ottawa-Carleton Trailway - a section of the Trans-Canada Trail converted from old railway lines.
Interesting Reading. . .
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