August Training

August.  Time for vacations, trips out of town, visitors from out of town, heat waves.  Kudos to every one of you who is fighting the doldrums and getting in the training.  Ski season seems impossibly far away, but winter is coming, so they say, so don't give up!  Here are some August training ideas from your anonymous KSC partners, including a new post from a professional running coach/marathon ski racer.  Big thanks to all of our contributors who take the time to share their perspectives; hopefully you can find yourself somewhere in this range of racers!

Front of the pack, overall and age group podium, all distances
My focus in August is continuing with strength, getting in climbing/backpacking trips and slowly starting to run again - 3 miles at a time.  I am still trying to get in at least 2,000 ft of gain doing the stairs at GG each week and then, if not on a climb/backpacking trip, I'm doing a local hike with 4000 ft of gain (or close to it - think Mailbox or Teneriffe).  Really miss running the trails and trail running races but I'm really focusing on strength, PT and making sure that I am getting myself in a good place for the winter.  
Middle of the pack overall, age group podium, World Masters distances
August is pretty much like July for training except that my distances for my three more intense workouts each week are longer. Intense biking days are 20-40 miles and intense ski walking days are up to 15 kms. 
(Clarification on the intensity of "intense":  Not at a high heart rate the whole time, but above 70% max heart rate average. 'More intense' this summer just means medium intensity. Next month I will start adding high intensity at short distances.)

Middle of the pack overall, Kongsberger skate races only (for now!)
During ski season, I strive to put in race efforts that feel solid, with the goal of improving year to year.  
With that in mind, my training tends to resemble cross training.  This means that in August, I need to re-label fun outdoor activities as “training”.  Here is what I usually do: 

Gym 3-4 times per week for 1.5-2 hours.  I have a great trainer who creates workout plans for me, but the actual workouts occur in a group setting (more affordable than 1:1 sessions).  Lately, the workouts have focused on agility and body weight exercises (monkey shuffles on the ground, balancing on an unstable surface while doing squats, etc.).  

Run / jog or open water swim 1 time per week.  Run usually 3-4 miles; open water swim usually 1 mile.  

Hike or another outdoor activity 2 times per week.  Usually something local during the week (Cable line trail up Tiger Mtn. is my go to) and something more ambitious on the weekend (recent hikes: Mailbox, Blanca Lake).  Earlier in the summer, my wife and I did a 4-day backpacking trip on the PCT in southern Oregon – I counted that as “training”.  I also count whitewater kayaking trips and kiteboarding sessions in Hood River as Nordic ski training!


Completely mediocre marathon-racing mom who trains to maintain sanity
Over the last few years I have come to understand that there are a few things that separate me from the people on the podium.  1) Actual athletic ability. 2) A willingness (or lack thereof) to risk death on downhills. And 3) August.  For the serious types, August is one of the biggest months of the year - the month of two+ hour runs and big interval workouts. For me, August is always a slog.  Actually, to be honest, August is always a ton of fun... which is why I tend to find my August workouts a slog.  And since my training motto is "only do it if it's fun", August always requires a bit of creativity.
So what does a mediocre athlete mama do when she hits the August slog and would rather be lounging in a hammock? I move for at least an hour every day and just do what sounds fun. This year, I have been loving a good roller ski followed by a quick swim in the Middle Fork.  Or a trip to Discovery Park for some hilly intervals (fortunately I still find intervals fun in August).  And the Sammamish River Trail seems to have a consistently nice breeze for an evening ski when its hot.  
I always feel like strength is the first to go and takes the longest to come back if I really start slacking, so I try to never skip my strength workout.  I'm still working a lot on hip strength and balance, which seems to be helping with the rollerskiing.  But that thing I said last month about trying to recommit to pushups and pullups? Ha! Sure I did a few, but to call that a "commitment" would be like calling me an "elite athlete in training". It's just not true and I'm okay with that.  
Very back-of-the-pack marathon ski racer, aspiring to achieve mediocrity
Boy, heat is not my friend and August is just mean.  The goal for this month is to keep this creaky body moving so ramping up the training in cooler September is not too much of a shock.  Biking to work four days a week (unless there's an evil heat advisory); that's solid.  Adding a day or two at Cougar or Tiger to get some trail time on my feet?  I call that a win.  Actually making it up to the pass to roller ski or do some uphill striding and bounding with poles?  I'm falling all over myself congratulating myself!  Strength training?  It's a wish, a hope, a dream ... a promise.

Professional running coach, mid-pack marathon ski racer locally, nationally, and internationally
Some may call me a relic, an old school coach, but after 28 years of coaching distance runners and triathletes, I am continuing to encourage my athletes to use a hard day, easy day routine.  Now that sounds very basic, because it is.  More often than not, I see too many athletes push themselves day in and day out while training with athletes on a daily basis who are faster than they are, whether on skis, bikes, in the pool or running.  

It is critically important that easy days are a priority.  Those who swear by heart rate zone training will call this level of effort zone two.  I call it conversational pace, although I still use a HRM personally since it is built into my watch.  To be sure this is understood, when running, if you can carry on a conversation at the pace you are running, then you are running a pace that allows for recovery while preparing you for the next day's harder effort.  This applies to nordic skiing as well.  I recently was skiing in my training group in the Methow Valley where I am easily in the back of the pack...I make sure I back off the day before those Tuesday group sessions and this allows me to no longer be dead last, but closer to the middle of the pack.  The following day, I applied this method to my xc ski and stuck to an easy course, at my own recovery pace and enjoyed the fun outside again.  Make your easy days easy and your hard days hard...

note: has some added context for this go easy-go hard concept here:

One thought on recovery: as I have..."seasoned," I allow for two or sometimes three days of recovery before another hard effort to ensure that the return on my investment of effort was maximized.  Remember, we all want to improve our technique and go faster, but there are times when a slow day matters and will make a difference, so get out and play...and do it with joy!

Olympian, training to win
My August challenge to you is this: break your regular training or workout mode. You don’t have to fly halfway across the world to change it up. This could be as simple as trying a new TRX class at a gym and learning some new core strength activities. Reach out to a new riding partner or go do a track workout. My coach emphasizes the importance of training with new partners and talks about “stealing their tricks.” By this he means, jump in behind someone and try to emulate something they’re good at. 

Training-wise, August is traditionally a time where some power training is introduced. June was used to build base, July was used to balance volume and used a variety of intervals, and in August, I will concentrate on shorter intervals, speed work, plyometrics, and building raw power. Training volumes will remain high (just did 30-hour week on the glacier) and recovery, as always will be imperative. To complement the shorter, harder intervals, I am also going through a power phase in the weight room, doing exercises three times, one rep of 12 to warm up, and then two near max reps of six.