This time of year, frequent requests from our readers for information on interval training are as predictable as â€œamenâ€ in church. The race season is close and everyone wants to get into top race shape. Here are some ideas.
1. Good and easy warm-up. Do a minimum of 20-30 minutes of easy distance, some stretching and a few short pick-ups before you start the session.
2. Always start with one easy â€œwarm-upâ€ interval.
3. Pace yourself. The key to improvement is to make sure that you can increase the K/hour, distance covered, lactate build-up and heart rate from the first 1-2 intervals to the last two. Too often we see skiers that are maxing out — can’t go faster or harder and even goes slower from the first interval to the middle and the last ones. What has happened here is that the initial effort was too hard, the lactate build-up too high and the long term benefit minimal.
4. Chose a reasonable number of intervals. More is not necessarily better. At medium effort you can make the session longer than when using high and very high effort. Remember that the hard efforts are producing lots of lactate and will therefore require longer recovery before you will benefit from another medium or hard effort.
5. Stay away from very hard effort/close to max heart rates before you have done a good number of easy and/or medium hard interval sessions.
6. Some interval session should also be solid hard especially for ambitious races, however the suggestion about a gradual increasing effort as the interval session progresses should still be used (point #3).
7. Use short (1/3 to half of the interval length) recovery when you are doing easy and medium hard interval session — this will help you in keeping the effort down.
8. Some interval sessions should be replaced with time-trials lasting from10 to 40 minutes in length. In order to get started with time-trials try a few â€œpace workouts.â€ These are medium hard effort — normally at heart rates 5-10 beats below average race heart rates. You should feel that you could have gone 30 seconds to several minutes faster when you are finished with a pace workout.
9. End each hard session with a good 20-30 minutes long warm-down. This will speed up recovery and make you feel better the next day.
Some common interval sessions:
4 x 6 minutes
4 x 7 minutes
5 x 3 minutes
1-2 minutes x 3-4 (1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2)
4-5 x 5 minutes
Looking For a Complete Training Program?
To learn more about all training methods and programs for any age groupÂ used in cross country ski training see the book How to, When to, Why to – A Norwegian Model Training Guide and Programs For Cross Country Skiers available from
<www.torbjornsport.com – look under books and videos.
Please check out our personal coaching service available at <www.torbjornsport.comÂ if you are looking for detailed weekly training suggestions.
This program is suitable for anyone needing help and guidance in putting together a good package of distance, intervals speed and strength as well as time-trials.
It also covers peaking for important events.
We are coaching athletes raging from World Cup racers to masters and citizen skiers at all ages and levels — check it out!