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Rollerski Time Trials
By:  Sheila Kealey   (2005/10/25)

Workout Type: Threshold
Exertion Level: Hard
Skier Level: Any
Technique: N/A
Season: Pre-competitive
Terrain: Varied

Suggested Trails: Gatineau Park Parkway

Equipment: roller skis


With the racing season around the corner, workouts that closely mimic the physiological demands of your upcoming races should be an important part of your training plan. For cross-country skiers who are anxiously awaiting snow, a roller ski time trial is about as specific as you can get.


If you are lucky enough to live where there are organized roller ski events, take advantage of them! The new Coupe Elpex Series featured races in Quebec, Gatineau, and the final is in Montreal this weekend: www.boutiquecourir.com/defimontroyal/inscription.html
Otherwise, the National Capital Division has organized two time trials this fall (Oct 18 and Nov 6). XC Ottawa athletes can expect a time trial on their training program a couple of times a month at this time of year. If there is not a formal event organized, we run a time trial at a team practice, with skiers departing at 30 second intervals. We use the same course (in the Gatineau Park from P8 to close to Mica turnaround and back) so that we can compare times, effort, and heart rate data over the season.

If you can’t attend an organized event, you can do your own time trial, but this can be a greater test on your motivation and ability to push hard. It will be easier if you can convince someone to join you. Choose a safe route that you can repeat another time so you can compare your fitness level.


- Get a good warmup (see note below)
- Don’t go out too fast
- Focus on good technique
- Collect some valuable data with a heart rate monitor – it can help analyze your performance
- Make sure your pole tips are sharp!
- Try not to let other competitors mentally affect your effort. This is especially critical in roller ski time trials since roller ski speed varies widely.
- Get a good cool down.
- Thank the volunteers and organizers!

Warmup Routine

• Use time trials to fine tune your warmup routine. Practicing your warmup before the actual racing season will let you work out the details and figure out what’s best for you. Just remember, you’ll need to add some time to this routine at your winter races to account for colder weather, race course logistics, and testing skis and wax.
• How Long? “The shorter the race the longer the warm up” is an often heard and reasonable guideline when you’re deciding how much time to spend on a warm-up.
• A good warmup should get you mentally and physically ready for an optimal performance, but shouldn’t tire you out. Start out with some easy skiing, then move on to progressively higher intensity efforts that will activate the energy systems you’ll be using in your race.
• Finish your last hard warmup effort within about 10 minutes of your start time.
• My “ideal” warmup: I like to start with some easy skiing in Zone 1 (about 20 minutes), followed by about 10 minutes where I’ll start increasing the effort a little (Zone 2-3). After that, I like include a 5-minute block where I progressively increase the intensity, finishing the last minute at my anticipated race pace. Then I’ll do a couple of 1- to 2-minute intervals in Zone 4 (with 2 minute recoveries), and finish with a few 20 second hard efforts. Sometimes I start out with some easy running (especially on cold days) since this warms my body up faster than skiing and gets the blood flowing to my feet which tend to freeze.


Roller ski time trials don’t have to be at race-pace. If you’re not ready for this type of intensity, take the effort down a notch to more of a tempo pace and you’ll still benefit, it’s just a different type of workout. During our summer training, when the focus was building a base, XC Ottawa still did monthly time trial. We used a longer course (1 loop of the Gatineau park), and focused on technique, limiting the effort level to low Zone 4. Trying to keep your heart rate down while going up long climbs was a good exercise in itself!


Here are some pictures from the NCD Time Trial on October 8. Thanks to Joanne Holden (www.musicianonskis.ca) for taking some of these (the good ones!). I decided that taking pictures should not be part of my warmup routine . . .

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