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Workout of the Week: Rhythm and Flow
By: Tom McCarthy (2007/02/23)
Workout Type: Technique
Exertion Level: Easy
Skier Level: Any
Technique: N/A
Season: Competitive
Terrain: Varied

Suggested Trails: The course you will be racing on next.

Equipment: None.


On a cold, quiet Tuesday night the week of the Keskinada, I went out to get a little more familiar with how the course flowed. I decided to ski classic, because skating would have been squeakily slow. It was so cold that grip was bomber, and the tracks were also hard and fast. Given that I had committed myself to parkway skiing for the night, I decided to try a workout I rarely do anymore: constant, flowing zone 1. I put myself somewhere in mid-to-high zone 1, and just cruised. I tried to focus on my movements, ensuring each movement followed from the next, preparing for each technique transition. Within my heartrate, I tried to make it as race-like as possible Ė think about technique, tuck on the downhills, focus on the next climb and look forward the next ten steps.

It turned into an awesome workout, and something I would recommend for anyone. Itís easy to ski z1 with friends, then stop and chat, then ski for a while, but try and ski z1 alone, focusing on technique. I donít do it often enough. I ended up skiing from the Relais Plein-Air to the Penguin picnic field, back to the T junction, all the way to the top of Blackís, and back to the Relais. I didnít stop moving my skis once.

Here are some tips:

* This is easier on the parkways, and itís easier when thereís good grip. A cold day with good grip and hard tracks (if classic), or a warmer day with good glide (if skating) are good opportunities.

* Try and keep the heart-rate constant. This generally means going a little harder than you think you should on the flats and gentle ups and going a little easier than you think on the steeper or longer uphills Ė which translates nicely to racing!

* Donít stop. You should feel two things: rhythm, which I like to define as the smoothness of individual repetitions; and flow, which I like to think of as how efficiently you cover an entire section. Flow involves your mental focus, your transitions, your comparative paces and feelings between techniques. Lots of good individual rhythm makes good flow.

* Keep your technique smooth. If your technique starts falling apart, stop. Donít force rhythm; your heartrate will rocket up. Similarly, stop if youíre fighting for grip, or if you get tired.

* Ski alone, donít talk. If you do this workout with someone, youíll likely be trying to match their high-z1 pace, which might push you into z2. Of course, itís easier skiing alone and not talking when itís 9:30 at night on the parkways, and itís Ė25 - itís not too crowded out there.

* Donít ski too hard. It can be very easy if you try doing this to push yourself into zone 2 or above. Particularly at the start of your workout, make sure youíre going at a comfortable, sustainable pace Ė you shouldnít hear yourself breathing.


Give it a try sometime! And if you see me in the Park one day, skiing alone, and you say Hi and I ignore you Ė donít worry, Iím not mad. Iím just flowing.

More Workout Suggestions . . .
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