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

Penguins and Turkeys
By:  Craig Storey   (2005/10/13)

Workout Type: Intervals
Exertion Level: Extreme
Skier Level: Intermediate
Technique: Ski Walking
Season: Dryland
Terrain: Flats

Suggested Trails: Penguin uphill, Canyon uphill on CBC road, a moderate downhill ski hill

Equipment: Ski poles, heart rate monitor


Penguins! Not something you want to do after a heavy Thanksgiving meal, but something that you must do around turkey-time until the snow falls in order to be ready for early season races. Its really the meat (turkey) and potatoes of the Ottawa skiers dryland diet...and you thought they were were just small flightless birds from Antarctica?

Here's the drill.

Get up early in the morning. Head to the Gatineau Park. Go for an easy 30 minute run making your way to the base of Penguin. Add a few ski striding accelerations just to wake yourself up.

Once you've arrived at Penguin (AKA "That big hill in the Keski!") gradually get yourself ready for the workout with a zone 2/3 interval from bottom to top... or say just 4 minutes. Don't go too hard, there's lots of time for that!

Now for the real fun. May I suggest as a main course 4-5 repeats of 3-6 minutes at zone 4 intensity. Now zone four is race pace, but not all out. Don't go all out or start too fast. The goal is to simulate a ski race by properly ski striding up the steep sections, and stretching out your stride in the flatter sections. While doing this you'll be working hard, but you should be able to cover the same distance every interval without having to work harder.

For those unfamiliar with this particular form of torture, 4 minutes will be eternity and 3 repeats is lots. Build up repeats and interval duration in 3 week cycles throughout the fall, something like...

Week #1: 3 minutes, 3x
Week #2: 4 minutes, 3x
Week #3: 4 minutes, 4x
Week #4: 4 minutes, 3x
Week #5: 5 minutes, 3x
Week #6: 5 minutes, 4x
Week #7: Beg for snow to fall before you get this far!

I suggest starting at the bottom of first steep pitch if you are familiar with hill work, and have been doing it for years. From this point it's ~5 minutes to the 'T' with Ridge Road. The best skiers get to the highest point on Ridge Road in 6 something.

Alternately you can make your life a bit less painful by starting on the flatish section near the cabin. From here 4 minutes will get you to the 'T' and if you need a bit more turn right and enjoy that steepest little pitch past Skyline. :)

Doing these properly means monitoring your heart rate and restraining yourself. It's far too easy to go to hard! Generally repeat #1 should feel easy. By #2 you strong feel relaxed. Now #3 can be a bit laboured and at this point you only do #4 and #5 if you felt good during the previous repeat.

Overdoing your hard workout will result in a one cooked goose!


Don't do this more than once a week Turkey! It's a good workout, but shouldn't be abused or over used.

Avoid racing anyone. Avoid going way above your zone 4 limits and hammering until you blackout - this is detrimental to your progress!

Practice good ski striding form. Avoid the tendency to run as the pace increases. If you feel yourself flailing, then you are going too hard and not doing yourself any good.

Smiling in the warm-up. After that it's all a blur!

Interesting Reading. . .
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