Exertion Level: Extreme
Skier Level: Intermediate
Suggested Trails: Old Camp Fortune Race trails, Nakkertok
Equipment: running shoes, watch, ski striding poles.
This workout is a good one to do in the last few weeks heading into the racing season, particularly if you have some races early on that you want to be ready for.
The workout is 4 to 8 ski striding/running intervals of roughly 1 to 1 and half minutes, with either 1 to 1 work to rest ratio, or possibly something like 4 or 5 to 1. The interesting part of this workout is doing it on a section of trail that forces you to use your reflexes and coordination a bit at the same time as you are pushing close to the "lose your breakfast" level.
For example, last week I found a roughly 70 second course to do the workout on. It consisted of about 20 seconds of running on a rooted and rocky single track trail, followed by making a sharp turn onto a more normal looking ski trail that headed a up a very steep section for about 20 seconds. This was followed by twenty-30 seconds of more gradual uphill and flat. This forced me to be quick on my feet in the single track, to negotiate a tight corner at high speed, and then to "change gears" several times over the next section.
As mentioned above, this workout can be done with varying amounts of rest. In essence, if you allow more rest you allow yourself to push harder and go faster each time. Arguably, you will improve your raw speed a bit better this way. If you take less rest (like 1 to 1), you should become more efficient at recovering from hard (sometimes quite anaerobic) work. To make a long story short, I would suggest mixing it up a bit in this regard from one workout to the next. In terms of the number of repetitions, my experience tells me that between 4 and 8 seems to be about right.
How hard to push? This is a workout where it isn't such a bad idea to make yourelf suffer a bit. The trick however, is not to do the first couple so fast that you feel like you are drowning in a sea of lactic acid for the last ones. Try to pick a pace that is hard, but repeatable for the duration of the workout. For sure,you can let it rip a bit on the last one or two. It's also great if you can do this with some other people around. Pushing hard is always easier with other people around, at least for me.
As always, maintain proper ski striding form on all the uphill sections. Normal running on the flat sections is just fine.
Skiers have a tendency to get stuck in a rut of doing things like 4 or 5 minute intervals on Penguin or some other long and deadly hill week after week. While this is great in a lot of ways, it also has its weaknesses. For example, how often do you encounter hills like Penguin in races other than the Keskinada? These longer intervals have their place, but some shorter, faster, and more technically challenging work has significant merit, particularly as one gets closer to racing season.