When is the correct time to start intervals? For many of us, the dreaded "I" word should not be even contemplated until the fall, but for those of you serious about your athletic endeavours, now is the right time.
The Australian Team Coach, Finn Marsland, believes intervals should be done year round to enhance the body's ability to "remember" how to go hard. Caution should be taken as to how hard the intervals are performed and at this time of year, we at XCOttawa do only Zone 3 intervals, meaning SUB-THRESHOLD. In this fashion, the anaerobic threshold is slowly pushed higher as the summer progresses with a shift to lactic acid tolerance intervals or zone 4 in the fall.
Currently we are performing this session once a week at Mooney's Bay and it involves bounding (moosehoof's) with poles up the steep section of hill for about 1 minute. We then have a 1-2 minute recovery before completing the next repetition, with a total of 10 repetitions.
Personally I did no intensity at all in April, and only a few sessions in May due to heavy work commitments. Now we are in June, I am making these interval sessions a focus for the week and ensuring I am somewhat rested for these workouts. These intervals should not be considered "very hard", but rather at a level you can feel yourself working above a comfortable exertion level. Wear a heart rate monitor to help control the session and exagerate the skiing movements, don't just run with poles in your hands.
Last week I did these 1 minute intervals above threshold, ie: into low level zone 4. This was a once off and I had the blessing of coach John Suuronen as I was trying to "mentally toughen up". I then made sure all of my other workouts for distance were perhaps a little slower than normal and I will not be allowed to do this week in-week out. This type of hard training at this time of year could lead to overtraining or over-reaching and should be avoided for most of us.