Nordic Ski Racer - cross country ski racing    
Home  |  Racing |  Training |  Rollerskiing |  Trails |  Weather |  Equipment |  Forums |  Photos & Video

Road to Marquette:
Training for the 2004 National Masters

Harder Distance and Lots of Technique Work
July 12, 2003 - By Mike Muha

When Torbjorn reviewed my training log from May, he said, "Too much time in Zone 1!" Zone 1 is great for building capillaries, but I didn't need to be in Zone 1 for all my distance sessions. Zone 1 is to be used for LONG distance sessions and even then, getting into Zone 2 on the uphills is OK.

This was again stressed by Joe Aalberg (Torbjorn's partner) at the Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team sponsored training camp in June. So the new mantra I used for distance training and zones during June was:

Rule of Thumb for Distance Training Zones

Long distance (more than 2 hours):   Zones 1-2
Medium distance (1 to 2 hours): Zones 1-3
Short distance (less than an hour): Zones 2-3

I feel this has made me stronger by the end of June: I've stressed my heart more, didn't feel like I was getting too tired for quality sessions, and it sure was fun picking up the pace a bit! 

June's Log

I logged almost 37 hours of training during the 30 days of June: 7 hours of strength training and almost 29 hours of biking, running, or rollerskiing. Here's the breakdown by training zone:

Zone Hours Percent of Total
1 11.1 38 %
2 13.6 47
3 3.1 11
4 1.0 3
5 0.1 0
28.9 100 %

Compared to May, I shifted some training hours out of Zone 1 and into Zone 2, and more than doubled the work in Zone 3. Notice that very little training is in the higher training zones.

I moved my running time trial course to a hilly loop at Kensington Metropark. Good decision! Running the time trial felt just like skiing: longish uphills, some fast downhills, and just enough flat to recover a little. 

The  Aalberg Training Camp

The highlight of June was the John Aalberg's training camp. He clarified many of the things Torbjorn has been trying to teach me, especially about training zones (see Getting in the Zone! for more details). Secondly, the video taping and technique discussion that followed was invaluable. The first thing John said when he saw my V2 and V2-alternate was "You inline skate, don't you?" Turns out that I put my ski down on it's outside edge, even climbing hills. This results in my inability to push off the ski until it rolls over on the inside edge - valuable time wasted when it could be used for generating forward momentum. 

My inline skating has definitely contributed to this technique problem - I always land on my outside edge on my inlines because I do the "double-push" - you actually skate on the outside edge, then the inside edge. (See Barry Publow doing the double-push here if you're curious about what this looks like).

I also need to work on my abdomen crunch or compression to initiate the pole plant in V2 and V2-alternate. I'm simply not using my abs enough.

My V2 and V2-alternate are in great shape compared to my V1. John identified a long list of things I need to work on for V1:

  • I need to pole longer on the hang side before moving my body over to the other ski.
  • I need more compression to initiate poling. Let the body and arms work together.
  • Feet further apart so I land on the inside edge, ready to push off.
  • My hang hand is too far in front of my body and it's blocking me from getting over my ski and causing a little shoulder twist - it needs to be moved more in line with my ski instead of with the trail. 
  • I need to work on full extension of the leg. I need to lengthen my stride.
  • I'm sitting. I need to get my center of gravity forward.

I knew my V1 needed work - I've always sucked climbing hills with V1. I just didn't know how much work I really needed. But if I can get these kinks out I should be much more efficient, and that should translate into faster skiing with no additional effort.

July's Training Plan

The July training plan has a couple of quality sessions a week. That doesn't necessarily mean they're really hard sessions. There are a two time trials that start easy and get harder, a "hard" distance session, some speed work, and some normal "build up" interval sessions.

I'm adding some distance running sessions (2 hour trail runs) where I'll ski walk or mousehuf the uphills. Trail running is a real treat for me, and it certainly builds up the legs while working the small muscles that keep things stable over uneven terrain.

In June, strength sessions were spent doing 3-4 sets of 6 reps at a weight where I couldn't lift a seventh rep in the last set. This month, I'm rotating sets of 12 one week with 16 the next.

I'm happy to report that I've successfully rebalanced "work, family, training and racing" although I just reexamined my July plan and it appears somewhat out of balance. I'll have to be careful and ensure I give my wife the quality time with me she deserves.

So, the changes for this month are:

  • Work on technique: Get of the outside edge, initiate poles plants with abdominal compression, get full extension on the leg, get the body forward and up, move my hang-hand out of the way (V1).
  • Make sure I spend enough quality time with my wife.
  • Somewhat harder or longer quality sessions, twice a week.
  • Lighten the weights and add more reps.

So what are your plans for this month? What are YOU actively trying to improve?