December Training, Transitioning to Snow


Snow is here in a big big way, along with its friend freezing rain.  So while we're trapped at home, eagerly checking the pass reports, it's a good time to check out our training contributors' December thoughts as we transition from dryland training to beautiful beautiful snow and a full race season.  This will be the last training post until next summer -- now it's time to put on a bib!  Hopefully you've found something in our range of contributors that speaks to you, that gives you new ideas, that gets you out the door, that inspires big goals.  And remember, your race reports always have a home on this blog, so send them over to me!  See you on the trails!

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


The transition from dryland to on-snow is primarily about one overriding goal: as many km as possible on snow.  Don’t stress with heart rate or intensity, or trying to avoid intensity either; just focus on being efficient and finding that “good ski feeling."  That is what it is all about, skiing efficiently.  When you start feeling comfortable with balance, etc. and getting up the hills without having to stop and catch your breath, it is time to start adding some conscious intensity (as opposed to the kind of intensity that just happens in the course of trying to ski smoothly).  Personally, I like to increase the speed on the hills, basically natural intervals, then progress to outright speed bursts of 30 seconds to a minute each.  The key is to always ski in control, and avoid hurried skiing.


Another lesson learned over the years: always have good kick when classic skiing.  Poor kick when you are trying to find your bearings after 8 months of dryland workouts is only going to mess up your technique and make it that more difficult to re-learn how to ski efficiently.  I have found skin skis to be excellent for early season skiing.  A little slow, but fantastic kick.  Enjoy!


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


December has been pretty good and my training has always been dependent on snow or not.  I was able to get in 4 days of skiing over Thanksgiving in Methow Valley, which was a bonus.   So far this month I've skied 14 hours and have another 6-7 days I can ski (interspersed with work).  We are in the Methow again until Thursday. It's pretty cold but tons of snow.  In December I try to ski as much classic as possible, since the Gunnar Hagen is the first race.  And it's generally colder and easier to wax in December.  I've also been doing some L3 intervals... trying after months of no real hard effort to see if I can get my system moving faster. Doesn't feel great but it's something.  So December: Stay healthy, ski as much classic as possible and try to get in some quality workouts on snow. 


Mediocre marathon-racing mom


How great is it to be back on skis?  My first month of on-snow training for the 2022-2023 season has been fantastic, thanks to a trip to Silverstar over Thanksgiving and all the great snow at Cabin Creek.  For me, early season is about maintaining the fitness I built over the fall and working on my technique.  A few years ago, I realized that I had pretty much made all of the gains I was going to make from getting fitter and stronger and that if I wanted to ski faster, I needed to ski better.  The ski technique I perfected in the 90s just isn't cutting it any more in our ever-evolving sport. 


So what does that mean?  It means I've spent about 35 hours over the last month working on getting a really good weight transfer and a really good push from both my upper and lower body on both classic and skate skis.  I've done a ton of no-pole skiing.  A ton of drills that require standing, gliding, and jumping on one leg. And more time than I care to think about contemplating how I can get a better core crunch like those World Cup skiers I've been watching in Period One racing. 


Now that I'm feeling better about my technique, I'm taking my interval workouts to the snow (I've been keeping my intervals for running days through the last month so I could really focus on technique). When I do that, I really want to work on transitions between double pole, striding, and herringbone on classic, and transitions through turns and heading into hills on skate. 


Happy racing season, everyone!  I hope to see more mediocre athletes out there at the start lines this winter!  Always remember that even the people who finish last get a bowl of Kongsberger chili and a cookie.... plus the joy of community and the feeling of pride that comes with pushing out of your comfort zone.

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

Despite holiday disruptions, I am trying to keep training in view. But I am also kind of relaxed about it because my training all summer and fall was super regular and I can afford a little break. And my target races (the World Masters) are in March so I am just getting started and don't want to overdo it. 

Silver Star in early December was a great way to start my ski season--- lots of easy long skis and towards the end of the week some big juicy interval workouts. I love being in the ski zone again!! I've been up at Cabin Creek a few times since I got back and am logging more K's. Lots of double poling.  At home, fairly regular ski erg workouts of about 25-45 minutes. I'm trying to keep up my weight workouts, which keep me at a base level of flexibility and strength. I am doing the little 7.5 km Gunnar Hagen race (all my world masters races are 15km and under.) I will try to go fast (for me) and have no idea how ready I am for that. We shall see. I would love to do the longer race but no way can I keep the same pace up for 30 kms. But truly, trying to go fast for 7.5 kms will be fun (at least if the wax is okay.)



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