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Thanksgiving training - How to train well on short holidays

Wed, Nov  26, 2008 - By Matthias Purdon

[This article first appeared on the xcottawa web site. Used by permission. Thanks XC Ottawa!]

Every thanksgiving I make my way to my cottage near Parry Sound to see family, eat, sleep, recuperate a bit, and as always do some ski training. Thanksgiving comes at a time when many people need a bit of rest from the stress of school, or work, and the setting at my cottage seems to be the best place I can think of to do this. I was looking forward to seeing my family as well, especially since I hadn’t seen any for a long time because I was away all summer and went directly to school once I got back. One family member in particular, my cousin Erin, has particular significance in terms of ski training. Erin and I are basically the same age and have been friends forever so when he finally started ski racing in high school we did a large amount of training together. I can’t think of a more spirited guy to do training with; we both push each other a lot and have a lot of fun training so naturally we planned to make the weekend an extra-good one for training, especially since we had missed out on an entire summers worth of training together.

On Saturday Erin and I did a two and a half hour “trail” run but in a kind of spur of the moment decision we decided to run to the main trail through uncut trail through the forest, kind of like back country skiing except the small brush has not been snowed over, and you’re running with poles instead of skiing. This turned out to be a really fun thing to do, running the open parts and struggling a bit through the not-so-open parts (see photo below). The intensity was kept in zone 2 for the back country section, which was about thirty minutes, and then once we reached the trail we ran in zone 1 for the last two hours of the workout ski striding the smaller climbs and ski walking the bigger ones. This run was followed by a significant lunch and a few hours of volleyball in the afternoon. With the volleyball the day ended up adding to about three hours total training.

Thanksgiving cross country ski training

…a more difficult section of the “off-piste” run

Sunday brought more unknown factors as we set out for our first roller ski on the roads by the marina. My cottage is water access so we packed up and paddled for 25 minutes to the marina where the road starts. We then set off classic roller skiing, we soon found out that the granite chip road was not the smoothest thing ever, but eventually our feet went numb and we stopped complaining and skied until we found a hill to do some intervals on. The hill we found was short and steep with a good flat section leading up to it, and so with the fall colors all around we did 13 40 second sprints (zone 3/4) with about a minute and half rest between each. The flat section leading up the hill offered good speed work double poling while the steep climb was done diagonal striding. The roughness of the road made the workout feel a little bit harder than expected, and the numbness in the feet, though helpful in creating a sort of short-term semi-comfort, made good technique a bit of a challenge. After doing intervals we continued along the winding and rolling road for about twenty-five minutes before heading back to the marina. A speedy paddle home and more volleyball and I felt like I would deserve the thanksgiving dinner that was set for the evening. In total we did fifty-five minutes of paddling ninety minutes of roller skiing and another 35 minutes (countable) of volleyball for another three hours total training.

Thanksgiving cross country ski training

A triumphant Erin makes it to the top.

The weekend involved a fair bit of training volume but I made sure not to kill myself (no three minute intervals up a big hill in the Gatineau park this weekend!), as there was much travelling to do to get there and to get back to Ottawa again, and as I mentioned earlier it’s good to have an easier weekend while life gets busier. All in all it was a memorable weekend, the weather was perfect, the food was amazing and it was really nice to see the family again. Having Erin around made the training, which can sometimes be a drag to do on your own when your entire family is relaxing, a lot more fun and interesting.

Thanksgiving cross country ski training

. . .a bit of post interval grimace left over for this one. . .