So here we are, it is February 4th, and for those of us planning to participate in one of the great events at the Keskinada Loppet, our date with destiny is drawing near. "Will it be as frigid as last year?", I find myself asking. "Maybe we'll get lucky and have ball-bearing type snow instead of sandpaper".
Either way, the task of preparing remains essentially the same. We all want to make sure that we are both in good shape and well rested to fully enjoy the experience. What did those Italians do to ski so well last year? Chances are, during the last week or so before the event it didn't amount to anything very special.
As mentioned in the last article in the series, the tendency at this point, for most people, is to try to do too much training. What makes more sense, however, is to arrive at the start feeling fresh and energetic.
Besides doing some limited and very easy distance training, perhaps while familiarizing yourself with the course if you are in the National Capital Region, it is often useful to do a bit of skiing at about the pace you expect to complete the race.
The following is the type of workout you might want to try once during the final 7 days before your event.
As usual, warm up by skiing easily for at least twenty minutes. Ideally, find a nice rolling section of trail, (something like Ridge Road), on which to perform this workout. Then do about 4 sets of 2-3 minutes at about the speed you will be racing at. You might want to do the first ones slightly slower than racing speed, with the last one or two actually slightly faster. The idea is to get as comfortable as possible with your anticipated speed, and practice skiing in a relaxed and efficient manner. Play a bit of a game and see how fast you can ski without really taxing yourself. The faster paced skiing at the end should help you prepare for sections of the race which are inevitably run at slightly faster speeds, namely, the first and last few kilometres.
Keep in mind that most people probably ski too fast on the uphills, only to ski slower than would be ideal on the flat and gradual sections. Try holding back a little bit on the uphills, and see how this influences your speed on the rest of the terrain.
As usual, warm down with some very easy skiing for about 20 minutes. Make sure to change into dry clothes as soon as possible after skiing. Pay particularly close attention to nutrition over the last week of training. Try to eat something containing simple and complex carbohydrates, as well as a moderate amount of protein shortly after your workout.
In addition to eating plentiful and well-balanced meals during the week before racing, make sure that your race-day nutritional and hydration requirements are well looked after. For most, this means a light meal no sooner than one hour before the start, as well as adequate fuelling and hydration for during the race. Consider taking a bottle of sport drink with you in a water-bottle belt. This will allow you to drink when it is convenient for you, and not simply where feed stations are available. XC Ottawa will be using e load, the world's first fully customizable sports drink, for all of our Keskinada training and racing needs. We believe 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 and Bushtukah and Cycle Logik. Their contact information is also available at the e load web site!