This week’s workout comes from FasterSkier contributor François Léger Dionne, who raced for 15 years at provincial and national competitions in Quebec. After obtaining a Bachelor of Law at the University of Montreal, he’s currently enrolled in a full-time program at the Montreal College of Osteotheraphy. This past weekend, he placed 60th out of more than 1,000 competitors in the Mount Washington Road Race (a 7.6-mile hill climb up the highest peak east of the Mississippi River).
Summer is the best season to add plenty of variety to your training before the upcoming and more ski-oriented fall. Back in my racing days, I used to do this workout every week in Mont Royal, Montreal’s most popular playground for endurance athletes. In preparation for the infamous Mt-Washington auto road race (which took place on June 21st), I actually incorporated this specific ski workout as a general fitness test to assess my energy and recovery levels.
Part I: Explosive power, balance and short sprints
Find a 200-meter slope, not too steep (around 6-8%, max 10%) and large enough for you to jump energetically from side to side in a V2 (or one-skate) motion.
The first part of this workout consists of short repeats, each of which is divided in two sections. First, a dynamic phase that requires technique, balance and muscle control, while the second is a full-out sprint.
Start with 20 (10 on each leg) V2 jumps. The goal is to concentrate on technique, power and balance. You want to build the most energy possible on the impulse, so make sure to really bend your knees, while trying to keep your upper body in a straight line as much as possible. Use your arms (in a V2 fashion) to generate the most explosive one-skate hop. The landing requires keeping your balance and stabilizing your core and leg muscles. Take time to land properly before taking off again. Don’t rush it, speed is of no importance here.
After completing 20 V2 jumps, sprint at full capacity for 20 seconds. One set should take about a minute. Jog or walk back down, but don’t stop in between each rep. It’s important to teach you body to recover actively and quickly.
Part II: L3 intervals up stairs
After completing around 10 repeats, recover slowly for 10 minutes. At this point, with the accumulation of lactic acid, your legs will probably feel a bit like jello.
The second part of the workout, although involving stairs, is thus less taxing muscle-wise. Montreal overflows with long sets of stairs, and Mont Royal — with one set of 260 stairs — makes no exception! Try to focus again on technique, and avoid simply running up the stairs. Ski walk (with no poles) two steps at once, with full leg extension and straight upper body, hands tucked in behind your back. Aim for 5 reps of one minute.
The basic workout:
- 20 minutes of easy running
- 8-12 x 1 minute repeats (20 explosive V2 jumps + 20 sec. sprint) with 1.5 minute of active recovery between each rep.
- 10 minutes of very low active recovery
- 4-6 x 1 minute L3 or threshold intervals up stairs with 2 minutes of active recovery between each interval
- 15 minutes cool-down
Total time: About 1 1/2 hours
- When my energy levels are high, I like spicing up this workout by incorporating sets of 15-20 push-ups/dips every two reps.
- This workout can be done alone, but is more fun for groups. Be careful not to lose concentration when doing the V2 jumps with teammates, as each has a different stride and pace. Have the younger ones start ahead of the stronger athletes for close sprint finishes. A coach can even dictate the V2 hops pacing for everyone.
- I prefer doing this workout without poles, but feel free to try them out (especially if you can’t find stairs).