Training Blocks for 2004-2005
Something Radical? Training Blocks.
May 30, 2004 - By Mike Muha
If you've been following my training under Torbjorn Karlsen for the past couple of years, you'll have noticed that I've been following the mantra of "at a minimum, two intensity, one distance, and one strength session per week." There's been a balance of easy and hard sessions during the week, and every hard session has been followed by an easy one.
So I was somewhat shocked when Torbjorn sent me a radically different training strategy for May and June. How radical? Take a look at my last week's training log:
Where's the distance session? Where's the strength training? Looks like this is not going to be a typical training year...
Torbjorn has divided the year into training blocks. It starts in May with a two-week Base Training Block that prepares you for the first Intensity Block. Training during this block consists of getting your preparing your muscles for hard training. For example, if you plan on doing intervals on rollerskis, you use this period to get used to your rollerskis again.
The Intensity Block is 7-10 days of training at high intensity. Training during this period consists of interval sessions with a few rest days thrown in. Intervals last from 3 to 8 minutes, with an active rest of 3 minutes between. The first two minutes of each interval are used to get to the target heart rate; the intensity is then held steady to the finish of the interval.
The overall goal of the Intensity Block is to increase VO2 Max. According to Torbjorn, VO2 Max "is the single most important factor determining success in Cross-Country skiing". If you increase VO2 Max, you'll automatically improve your lactate threshold.
For May and June, we're raising our heart rate to no more the 90% of max. For July through November? Who knows what Torbjorn has in store for us!
After each Intensity Block is a Recovery Block of 3-5 days. The Recovery Block includes at least one day of rest and two days of easy training and core strength. The idea behind this block is to super-compensate for the training effects of the intensity block. If you don't get the proper rest during this block, you won't gain the benefits of the Intensity Block. Worse, you may actually over-train which will lead to a degradation of performance.
Training then moves into a Stabilization Block, which resembles the regular training weeks of the previous couple years: two intensity sessions, a distance session, and one or two strength sessions in a week. During the Stabilization Block, you should focus on parts of your conditioning other than VO2 Max, particularly your weakness. Have a weak upper body? Hit the weight room and do some doublepole rollerski sessions. Your V2 needs work? Do all your rollerski sessions using V2 only.
Torbjorn is not showing all his cards yet, but it appears we'll be repeating the Intensity, Recovery, and Stabilization blocks for the rest of the year. Are there other blocks? Only time will tell...
Train Your Weaknesses
I'll be moving into a Stabilization Block in a few days. What weaknesses do I want to spotlight? Definitely upper body strength. I'll be hitting the weight room and doing some of my rollerskiing as doublepole sessions. Unfortunately, I seem to have injured my right tricep somehow this week, so I may have to wait until next month to work on my upper body.
Second weakness? Completing my leg push. Last year at John Aalberg's training camp in Grand Rapids, John said I needed to get down lower (ankle bend) and complete ("snap!") my leg straight at the end of a push to get maximum acceleration. I know I can do better. I know I still rely too much on my upper body to pull myself up hills.
June's Training Plans
You can view April and May's training log here. I wasn't super motivated in April. Then in the first half of May, I picked up a sinus infection which put me in bed for a couple days. Then I finally started feeling more motivated.