June Training

It's June already, and the training season for next winter is in full swing!  Maybe you're an old pro at this, or maybe you've fallen off the training wagon this year and need a little push, or maybe you're just up for some new ideas; either way, we're lucky to have the full spectrum of racing experience in our club, and I thought it would be fun and maybe motivational to poll a cross section of racing members to see what their training plans for this month look like.  I also included, at the end, some bonus tips from a couple of pros.  I'm planning to do this every month from now until the snow falls, so if you'd like to be a future contributor, let me know; I'd love to share your ideas!

Very front of the pack, overall and age group podium, all distances, national and international:

I train because, as Per Johnsen once said, at this stage the main purpose isn’t to get into shape, it is not to fall out of shape.  Hence, I try to stay at a minimum 30 hours of training per month year around.  As I am getting older, I find that neglecting the hard workouts tends to speed up the decline in performance.  Therefore, I am very careful about having at least one really hard workout and one medium hard workout per week.  To me, this is really the cornerstone of my summer training.  My preferred hard workout is hillbounding up Tiger Mountain.  It ends up being about 750 meter of elevation gain, split into anywhere from 1 minute (total of 6) to 10 minute intervals.  Total training time 1 ½ hours including running back down.  Then for a medium hard workout I often end up doing skate and double pole intervals.  I typically prefer classic skiing in the winter but I do find that skate rollerskiing taxes the cardio system more so than just double poling so I like to add in at least some skate intervals every week.  There is a short 2-mile paved trail over by the ball fields in Preston.  It is a gradual trail just perfect for long medium-hard intervals.  Or another favorite place is Middle Fork Rd just past North Bend.  I go medium hard for a mile, short break, another mile and so on, mixing in some double pole intervals as well.

Then there are the strength workouts.  I have a set-up in my garage that takes about 30 minutes, which I do 2 -3 times per week.  Then of course some easy +/- 2-hour rollerski double pole or skate workouts.  I am not that big into running so running is incidental for me, warm up before strength or part of the hillbounding workouts.  I do have several time trials that I do every so often.  That would be distance double pole 33k on Mercer Island, a hillbounding time trial, or a skate time trial down at the Cedar River trail.  These are time trials that I have done over many years and give me a pretty good indication of how things are holding up, and at 58, I can’t complain!

Front of the pack, overall and age group podium, all distances:

In a perfect world, in June I’m focusing on a lot of level 1 or 2 effort in the mountains. This means long easy runs, hikes, and mountaineering.  I would also jump into one or two trail runs on a weekend. If it’s a half marathon, I use the first 3-5 miles to warm up and then start really pushing/racing so I’m finishing fast.  Training has to be fun for me, and that’s why I spend a lot of time in the mountains vs. roller skiing.  I try to get in about 40 hours in June. 

This year I’m recovering from a pretty severe wrist injury which prevented me from strength training and yoga from January to March. In addition, I strained one of my Achilles in April. So, the non-perfect world: I’m doing a  lot of strength and yoga (both prevent injuries) at home.  I think my Achilles is finally feeling better thanks to PT, Theragun, and compression sock/sleeve, so I’m going to focus on hiking, short runs, ski walking hills for my easy workouts.  My daily commute to UW is biking so I get in about 1-1:30 a day of riding as well, depending on the route I choose.  Since I have a fairly sedentary job, and am a 56-year-old female, I know that I have to work really hard to keep muscle so I do everything I can to make strength training fun, interesting, and challenging.   

Middle of the pack overall, age group podium, World Masters distances:

I train because my body likes it, it adjusts my spirit towards the positive, and it is a long-term habit.

Every day, walk or bike outside. Of those: every week, two or three medium-level 5-10 km ski walks with or without poles, with partial squat at 6-8 min kilometers. (The partial squat looks a little funny but it is the original ski-walk technique. My PT recommends this for my knees and for general leg strength. Once you get used to doing it, it isn't so awkward.), and two or three 12-25 mile bike rides. All these are done at low to medium intensity-- no red zones!

Strength workout two or three times each week (three times per week is what I aim for but sometimes it is just two.) Here is the detail if anyone is actually interested: Two sets of the following exercises (the whole workout takes about 25 mins with 30 seconds between sets): 1-2 minute squats; 15 squat jumps; 8-10 asymmetrical push-ups on low footstool (one hand on stool, one hand on floor, alternating sides); 10-12 leg lifts; 15 crunchies reaching to opposite sides with 10 lb weight (I do this on a bench); 15 assisted pull-ups; 12 walking lunges; 30 sec superman with 3 lb weight; 15 tricep lifts with 10 lbs each arm (bending back over exercise ball); 15 times hoist a 15 lb weight in both hands up as high as I can reach; side planks 30 secs; full plank 30 secs. All these are done within a relative comfort level-- no heavy weights!

I am currently laying off my ski-erg because I want to be outside as much as possible and I don't need the intensity right now. I would like to be roller-skiing but I need new roller skis-- my current ones are unsafe. But actually, the ski walking with a partial squat is a pretty good substitute.

Completely mediocre marathon-racing mom who trains to maintain sanity:

I take the Nordic ski calendar's suggestion that May and June be a little lighter training-wise seriously because a) I'm still a little lazy after all the hard work of the ski season and b) OMG the end of school year rush is FOR REAL for us parents.  I tend to do 6-7 workouts a week, with one of those being a double.  I run (realistically it should probably be called "jog") 3-4 days a week for 60-ish minutes, usually while my kids are in some practice.  I try to make one of those a "hilly" run and one of those a run with intervals, but some weeks I consider it a victory to run (jog) at all.  I also do strength workouts 1-2 days per week, usually from a Youtube video because I need another "human" telling me that I'm doing a good job and so far my husband isn't enthusiastic enough (Jessie Diggins has a couple of good ones on the internet). And then yoga once a week.  In addition to the serious workouts, I try to do at least one "fun" workout a week - a fun trail run, a long, hard kayak, or a bike ride to remind myself that the reason I exercise like this is because I love to be outside in the woods.

Back of the pack marathon racer, aspiring to achieve mediocrity, trains because ski marathons are more fun when you're strong and fit:

Insight from some anonymous coach: "Summer is the time to strengthen the joints, build the mitochondria, and grow some more capillaries; summer is when we make the down payment on the coming ski season and the adventures ahead."  So I'm biking to work (2 hours round trip) four out of five days per week, getting feet on trails at least two of the other three days, and full strength workout once per week and shortened strength workout once per week (both at home, with hand weights, sliders, wobble block, and bands).  The roller skis are in the car, waiting for a burst of motivation (and a non-rainy day).



Former Olympian turned masters coach:

Strength: This is important all times of the year. There are some very good studies backing up the benefits of resistance training from a hormonal response and also a general health standpoint. The benefits of strength for a skier are clear. Try double poling for any duration at a strong pace and you will feel the need to be strong. Once per week resistance training is a good goal. Summertime is a great time to work on general strength. Sit-ups, pushups, dips, pull-ups are all skier favorites along with some leg plyos. Add weight as the level of general strength comes up.

Endurance: It’s important to get one longer overdistance workout every 7-10 days. It does not have to be on roller skis. Bike, run, paddle… all are good. Even a combo workout is great. The goal is to train the body to burn fat as an energy source.

Intensity: I like to focus on longer intervals to start the year. Lv3 type work. 3 by 10 min or 4 by 8 min… anything that gives 30+ minutes of “on-time."

Olympian, training to win:

If you think of training and training zones like a pyramid, levels 1 and 2 form the base of the pyramid.  They are what holds the top end together (i.e., racing!).  Without a good distance base, it's hard to sustain quality intervals and fast speed work later in the summer and fall, not to mention an entire winter of World Cup racing or Kongsberger/Snoqualmie events!  That said, June will most likely be one of my highest VOLUME months of the entire year.  Think of it like money in the bank.

So, if you're wondering how to plan your training for June, just get out there and KEEP GOING! I'm always careful to cross train (roller ski, run and bike) so that overuse injuries don't flare up.  We also add at least one interval session and one speed session per week. This keeps my body used to fast work without taking a huge toll so that I can keep my distance hours up.

Speaking of injuries, if you have anything that's nagging you, I challenge you to be proactive and take care of it! If you start the summer and beginning of the training year with things that hurt, they will likely spiral downwards as training volume and load increase.

Elite marathon specialist, training to win:

Long steady jog/hike, 2 hours+, twice per week

Jog/hike 1-2 hours with pickups (fartlek), every other week

Long steady roll ski, 2 hours+, once per week

Long steady roller ski with speed at the end, 2 hours, every other week

Long uphill hike with poles, every other week

Long running intervals (10-20 minutes), every other week

Short running intervals (3-5 minutes), every other week

Strength, twice per week


  1. I am curious what this looks like: "medium-level 5-10 km ski walks with or without poles, with partial squat at 6-8 min kilometers"

  2. Great motivating post, Debbie, thank you! I'm with Chris. Maybe you can link a video.


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