GeneralTrainingWorkoutsWednesday Workout: Level 3 Double-Pole Intervals with the SMST2 Team

Brainspiral BrainspiralAugust 27, 20143
Andy Newell leads Ben Saxton (second from front) and two others during a double-pole rollerski workout at Stratton earlier this summer. (Photo: SMST2)
Andy Newell leads Ben Saxton (second from front) and two others during a double-pole rollerski workout at Stratton earlier this summer. (Photo: SMST2)

This week’s workout comes from Ben Saxton of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team in southern Vermont. Now in his second season with SMS, the 21-year-old Minnesota native, Dartmouth freshman, and U.S. Ski Team D-team member explains that this double-pole workout is a staple at Stratton. Why? Because it works.

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One of our summer workout staples at Stratton Mountain School is the Level 3 (threshold) double-pole intervals in Weston, Vt. SMS has been doing this workout for many years, and since I joined the crew in 2013 we’ve been doing this workout almost every other week in the summer months. It is perfect for building a strong base as we move forward into higher intensity intervals later on in the training year.

The workout is nothing crazy, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but that’s because it works. Everyone from the little kiddos in our Junior program to my teammates and I on the SMST2 team meet up at the infamous Weston playhouse before beginning the intervals.

The Basic Workout

  • 30-minute warmup
  • 5-7 by 8 minutes of double poling at threshold pace with 4 minutes of active recovery in between intervals
  • 20-minute cooldown.

Total time: About 2 hours

Tips: Vary intervals on different terrain to mix up technique. “I generally follow the pattern of doing one interval on the flats followed by one of sustained climbing,” Saxton writes.

Try to repeat the workout at the same place to gauge your progress. “Returning to the same spot so often for similar intervals allows us to measure our fitness and our strength in a very simple way.”

Everyone’s on-time varies, but I usually do anywhere from 40-60 minutes of Level 3. The other week, I did 5 x 8-minute intervals. During the intervals, younger skiers are able to hop in behind us and mimic technique for a minute or two during each interval. Like our bounding workouts, we generally recover for about half the time of the intervals, in this case 4 minutes, which are spent milling around for active recovery.

SMST2 skiers during a rollerski workout near Stratton, Vt. (Photo: SMST2)
SMST2 skiers during a rollerski workout near Stratton, Vt. (Photo: SMST2)

I love this workout because we get to practice all different types of double poling. Weston has long flat sections of skiing at the base of several mountain roads, which allows for sustained uphill intervals. I generally follow the pattern of doing one interval on the flats followed by one of sustained climbing in order to mix up the technique used in the intervals.

Our Coach Pat (affectionately referred to as “Herb” in honor of Herb Brooks who might be his only coaching equal) emphasizes varying our technique with the changing terrain.

Level 3 intervals can often be limited to one type of terrain (and subsequently one type of skiing) but in Weston we are able to mix it up and practice the long powerful double poling required on flats as well as the shorter faster double poling used when going uphill.

I also believe that returning to the same spot so often for similar intervals allows us to measure our fitness and our strength in a very simple way, which provides great feedback for the training we’ve been doing.

During the winter these are the workouts I often find myself thinking back on, because they give us the strength needed to kick butt on the snow!

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