Training Blocks for 2004-2005
Three Week Build, One Week Rest
August 7, 2004 - By Mike Muha
I've been reading more and more about the use of intensity blocks on the web, not only on Torbjorn's FasterSkier.com web site (see article on the Norwegian Women's team or "All of Them Have Trained Wrong"), but also XCSkiWorld.com ("Norwegian Coach's Seminar"), the US Cross Country Ski Team's TeamToday.com site ("V02 Training"), and even non-ski related sites like IronManLive.com ("Ironman Training and High Intensity Training: Are they compatible?"
What do all these articles have in common? They all point to the benefit of doing blocks of high intensity effort in order to quickly increase V02max. And the earlier you build up your V02max, the more work capacity you'll have earlier in the training season. And that means being able to go that much further or faster for the same amount of effort.
Second, the different references suggest that you shouldn't build up lactate during the session! Intervals are not done at a killer pace, but are done easy enough so you feel like to can do more at the end of the session. Too hard negates the training effect.
What do the articles disagree on? When to do intensity blocks. I've been doing an intensity session every month under Torbjorn. The US Cross Country Team is doing a block in May, July and September.
What else is different? The duration of the block and the number of intervals during the block. Some of the programs may extend the block anywhere from a week to two weeks. One may suggest doing one interval session a day, another double workouts. I think these difference are mainly due to the time of year or the level of the athlete - more highly trained athletes (Olympic hopefuls) can handle more training volumes than weekend warriors like me.
V02 training was the big focus in June and July with Torbjorn. Similar to May, he recommended I do a week-long block of intensity training high in Zone 3 to the bottom of Zone 4. The training during the intensity block consisted mostly of intervals of three minutes or longer, but could include a pace session.
There's a balance between how often you do intervals and how much time you need your body to recovery: It takes longer to build up your V02 by doing one or two interval sessions a week (last year's plan), but you have a chance to recover. Doing intensity blocks builds V02 faster, but you have to be careful to take a appropriate steps to recovery.
Overall, I've been following a very traditional training schedule: three weeks of progressively higher volume/intensity followed by and easy week.
Overall, June was an OK month, nothing to write home about.
For the most part, July went quite well, certainly better than June. I put in more hours as well.
July Intensity block went very well overall.
August is more of the same - just the sessions get harder, or there are more of them. Unfortunately, I'm traveling a lot in August: I'm going to Tucson twice, up north to a Michigan Cup Committee meeting, and up north again for a family vacation. Traveling has the potential to drain you or eat away at the time you have available to train.
I've been mostly rollerskiing - only a little biking and running. I'll continue to add extra intervals to a hard workout if I'm having a good session.