I've just completed three years of Torbjorn Karlsen's personal coaching program. In those three years, the way I trained changed dramatically and my understanding of training methodology increased exponentially. But the proof was in the racing: I had two of my best racing seasons on record, 20 years after I started racing. And I was able to have these results even though I my training hours were less than half of what they used to be and my snow time only a fraction of what it was 20 years ago.
Before Torbjorn, I was a self-taught Nordic ski racer. I picked up training ideas from things I read or from the occasional ski clinic. I knew that I should either go slow, or go hard, but not do any training of medium difficulty. Most of my training was long slow distance. I thought intervals had to be all out efforts, but I didn't know why nor did I know how long intervals should be.
That all changed under Torbjorn.
But now I want to try to do it on my own.
This Year's Strategy
The high-level plan is to leverage what I've learned and to seek expert advice on specific areas where I want to improve rather than getting coaching on the overall training plan. For example, I'm waiting (hoping) for Torbjorn to announce a dryland camp out in Utah - I'd like to participate in an organized interval session under his direction to ensure I truly do understand the proper way to do intervals. I'd like to do lactate measurements during an interval session to verify that my intervals are done at the right intensity. I'd also like a checkup on my technique.
I've also thought about going to the weight room and get help on form, particularly for squats
April is supposed to be a recovery month. Of course, I pretty much ignored Torbjorn's warning to take a couple weeks off in April - we had too much nice weather and I wanted to get on the bike! I also wanted to do a running race and train for a couple trail runs in May.
I started back up in the weight room. I'll be doing general weights now, getting used to the weights again, but in May, I start focusing on sets of squats and pull-down weights (think poling motion) at a weight where I can only complete up to 6 reps max.
May's training goal is to train so I can train harder later. Training consists of moderately hard intervals that will prepare me for harder intervals in June and later.
The table below shows what I should be doing in May along with what I will actually be doing. All the intervals are around my anaerobic threshold and will last from 3 to 5 minutes in length. The first couple minutes of each interval will consist of gradually increasing effort - really, only the effort after two minutes counts.
I actually went too hard last year when I did anaerobic threshold intervals - I tended to perform the intervals close to or at 90% of my max heart rate (MHR). This was too hard - I started out too fast, the lactic acid built up, and the intervals felt hard. That's not training the AT.
This year, I'm slowing my AT intervals down a bit. If I'm running, 87-88% of MHR feels about right. For rollerskiing, I think it'll be closer to 87%, at least as I get used to my rollerskis again. Going harder is not training better. I you think about it, this effort is around the average effort over a long race distance.
The plan calls for no training above 90% of MHR, except when I doing the two running races. It's a little earlier in the season for hard training. I consciously decided that my training will not be optimal in May. Besides the running races, I'll not be training very specifically (biking too much, rollerskiing too little).
In later articles, I'm going to examine how well I executed the previous month's plan, talk about what went right and what went wrong, and present the upcoming month's high-level plan.