The trail conditions in Ottawa are improving almost daily. Without a doubt, the Keskinada organizers are looking forward to another great set of races in about a month. At the same time, those of you preparing for the race are also starting to think seriously about how to maximize the benefits of training over the final lead-up weeks.
The dominant tendency, it would seem, is to do too much training over the last month. People feel like they need to make sure that they are in shape for the big day. Realistically, however, you are already in about as good shape as you are going to get by this point. The important thing is to arrive at the race feeling both well rested and sharp. You should not be finishing workouts feeling exhausted, but rather, like you were wishing you could do more.
Bearing this in mind, the following is a workout that you might find usefull to do up to about 1 week before the race. As it involves a bit of higher intensity work, don't do it more than once per week, and also not if the temperatures are below -20c.
Begin with a warm up of about 20 minutes. Ski with almost as little effort as possible. Scan your body to make sure that all parts of it are relaxed and warm. If you feel like it, stop for a few minutes to perform a few light stretches.
The main part of the workout involves 2-3 ten minute periods of skiing at about the same speed that you plan to use during your chosen events. Build speed gradually, beginning somewhat slower than racing speed, and finishing just a touch faster. After each 10 minute section, ski very slowly and easily for about 5 minutes. Think a little bit about what types of things you want to focus on during the next 10 minutes. Some things that are useful to consider include being relaxed, being explosive during the initial part of each movement, making sure to use your trunk, and maximizing glide. Once you have finished, cool down with about 20 minutes of easy skiing.
As always, make sure that you are properly fuelled during your workout in order to gain maximum benefits. Eat a light meal no sooner than an hour before you go skiing, and make sure you take fluids along with you. XCOttawa uses eLoad, the world's first fully customizable sports drink, for both training and racing, and believes it to be the best sports drink available for cross-country skiing and other endurance sports. To find out more about e load, please visit their web site at www.eload.net. E load is available at Greg Christie's Ski and Cycle Works, Bushtukah and Cycle Logik. Their contact information is also available at the eLoad web site!