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Workout of the Week: Staying Sharp During Race Season with Zone 3-4 Intervals
By: Sheila Kealey (2005/01/11)
Workout Type: Intervals
Exertion Level: Hard
Skier Level: Expert
Technique: N/A
Season: Competitive
Terrain: Varied

Suggested Trails: A loop trail with varied terrain is a good idea for this workout. In the Gatineau Park a loop around Ridge 1A/1B is good.

Equipment: A good race worthy wax job.


After a 5km time trial at Nakkertok on Sunday, XC Ottawa athletes revisited this great racing course for an interval session. Team members heading to the Ontario Cup in Duntroon the upcoming weekend did a short sprint workout to help their race preparation, while the rest of the team did a series of intervals at Zone 3-4 intensity. I will describe the Zone 3-4 Intervals.

30 minutes of easy relaxed skiing around the racing course.

We designated four sections along the loop that would be skied at Zone 3-4 intensity (threshold to race pace) with easy recovery skiing in between sections. The terrain was as follows: #1 uphill; #2 flat/steep downhill; #3 steep uphill; #4 flat/gradual downhill. Although we didn't time the intervals, efforts ranged from about 1-2 minutes, with about equal recovery time. Duration: We skied this loop with intervals for 40-45 minutes. Adjust this time to suit your fitness level and racing schedule.

30 minutes of easy relaxed skiing.


This was a great workout to focus on skiing technically well at race intensity on varied terrain. With four different sections of the trail to work hard on, this session went by very quickly. Including downhill portions added to the variety and gave us a chance to work on downhill skills as high speeds.

Depending on the terrain you choose, this can be a tough workout! If your technique starts to fall apart and you can no longer maintain the effort you started with, shorten the duration of the workout. For optimal recovery, plan on 1-2 days of easy training after this session.

More Workout Suggestions . . .
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