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

Keskinada is just around the corner!
By:  Lee Churchill   (2008/02/10)

Workout Type: Sprints
Exertion Level: Easy
Skier Level: Any
Technique: N/A
Season: Competitive
Terrain: Varied

Suggested Trails: 5, 26, 15



Keskinada is just around the corner!

February is here again and for all avid XC ski racers the long anticipated Keskinada is merely 4 sleeps away. This year the Ottawa region has been blessed by the snow gods and have been skiing since the dawn of early November, thus making this year's Keskinada trail conditions sensational.

Emphasis of this workout will be on a last step "natural speed" interval workout to get you back on your toes after your week of resting, come Keskinada morning. With any Loppet Race, quick starts, several speed-ups, and group drafting techniques are essential components that may have a huge impact on how well you ski and be a determining factor of your result.

Important Tips

  • Be sure and warm-up well and stretch lightly before any intensity.
  • Focus on your current goals, think technique and be aggressive.
  • Ski each "natural transition interval" as if you were in a race.
  • Push hard and long into the top portion of the uphills and downhills.
  • Ski RELAXED!

  • And most important - Have fun.

Again, any interval workout is always done best when skiing with a teammate/teammates who are generally faster or around the same speed as you. When training with others, it is much easier to push yourself to the max. It's during these efforts where the most progress is made. I recommend doing this workout two days before any long distance race giving you a day to recover and time to test skis before the big event.

Getting Started

Find rolling terrain with short climbs and descents (avoid the parkway, I recommend Ridge Road aka #1 ). Warm-up for about 30-40 minutes and do some light stretching. The same as you would before a race. Then strap your skis on. I recommend doing about 5 minutes easy and relaxed Zone 2; this will give your body some notification that a speed workout is coming and prevent your body from cramping and going into "shock".

Interval Workout Directions

Your approach will be "natural transition intervals". Ski easy and comfortably at a Zone 1 pace throughout the flats and speeding up to race pace at every climb and pushing up and over the top of the climb into the decent with great speed, gaining every possible inch on the decent (each interval should not exceed 1-2minutes and keeping your heart rate about 10-15bpm below your race pace, with the duration of the natural intervals lasting about 30min) Be sure and recover between these "speed-ups". Then proceed to cool down for 30-45min. I recommend skiing with teammates to get comfortable drafting and being able to ski close behind someone else for long periods of time, because strategically drafting will save you valuable energy, which will be needed for the winning sprint to the finish.

See you at the Start!

This is re-printed from Lee's original advice.

- Prep for the conditions you will see at Nationals. This is important since Nationals are typically held at the end of the season and you will likely encounter wet snow and ice for at least one race.

Short intervals (1min repeats) and sprints (10-30s) should be on the menu right now to get those ski gears tuned up to race fast at the end of this month!


You will encounter the most variable conditions in the early winter, and in spring. Usually around those big races! So it's important to get those gears ready. Roller skiing is always a perfect hard pack. With that in mind as the racing season approached you need to find workouts to develop high turnover. You need to find terrain to challenge your tempo and remember snow won't be as solid as asphalt.

The most famous comparison of muscle vs. tempo was the final leg of Nagano Olympic Men's Relay. Norway's Thomas Alsgaard and Italy's Silvio Fauner started the leg together. Both skiers skied to their respective strengths; Alsgaard using strong smooth technique, while Fauner followed with an amazing tempo of flailing arms and legs. At various times during the race each skier looked poised to break away from the other, but neither could and they stayed glued together right to the line where only a toe separating them in the end. If you can get a hold of that footage, take notes of which skier you most resemble and try to ski like they did in similar terrain.

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