Most XC Ottawa athletes are preparing for some early season competitions in Canmore and Sovereign Lakes/Silverstar that will take place in less than 8 weeks. After a summer of building a solid training base it’s time to turn up the intensity with intervals that will help us get ready to race!
High intensity interval training produces many physiological adaptations that will help your body tolerate greater efforts and faster speeds. For example, your muscle metabolism changes to extract more oxygen from your blood, your muscles develop more capillaries, and your heart learns to pump more blood. And you can’t ignore the mental aspect of learning to embrace the pain that accompanies hard efforts . . .
Throughout the year, XC Ottawa athletes use several interval formats, each with designated intensity, length, and recovery, designed to train specific systems that will help us meet the demands of the racing season. At this time of year, we incorporate more Zone 4 intervals into our routine.
What is Zone 4?
Zone 4 is a “training zone” that refers roughly to heart rate associated with 95% of V02 max. If you don’t know your Zone 4 heart rate range, you should perceive the effort as “hard” (not all out) or about 15-17 on a scale of 20. Some believe that this is the optimum zone for improving Vo2 max and your capacity to buffer lactate.
Warm up for about 30 minutes, starting with some easy skiing. During the last 10 minutes, increase the intensity to zone 2 and 3 to elevate your heart rate and activate the muscles and energy systems you’ll be using in your intervals.
10 x 1 minute hard (in Zone 4) up the hill; followed by 2 minutes of recovery skiing down the hill. Include some easy skiing in your recovery (don’t simply tuck down the hill and stand around). You can do the first repeat in Zone 3 as the final stage of your warm-up. Take this time to mentally note what you’ll be working on during the subsequent intervals.
- Rollerski at a very easy pace for at least 15 minutes.
- Re-fuel with fluid and food.