The following workout comes from Andrew Kastning, head coach of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) nordic team. Twice each fall, the university’s nordic and alpine teams converge on their favorite sandbox on their picturesque coast for a sufferfest of sand-dune sprinting. “The family that plays together stays together and the ski team that suffers together can win together,” Kastning explains.
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — On the far southwestern edge of Kincaid Park in Anchorage, AK there is a large sand dune that is growing into the forest. When high winds sweep along Turnagain Arm they deposit soft sand and silt in a quarter square mile area that offers a fantastic place to do some running intervals. In collegiate skiing, teams that are fighting for an NCAA Championship offer both Alpine and Nordic skiing to men and women.
Other than the fact that we both slide on snow, Alpine athletes and Nordic athletes are a very different breed; from their physical shape to their mental obstacles, you cant find much in common across the two disciplines. Yet at the end of the day, our team scores are combined to one total in the final standings, so it’s important to know we all have the same goals. Once in a great while we can suffer together in workouts and the Kincaid Dunes offers the perfect venue!
For video of the sand-dune sprints, click here.
Alpine athletes continually work in the anaerobic zone, and Nordic athletes need to tune up speed and quickness. What better way than with hard running in soft sand?
The UAA Ski Team does this workout twice each fall, with different formats. Last week we did the first one consisting of 12 x 20-30 second sprints. On the north side of the dune is much steeper and softer and gets the quad muscles flooded quickly as you try to be the first one to the top. The south side offers a little firmer surface and not as steep which can burn the legs and lungs as you try to be the first to the line drawn in the sand.
We did six sprints on each side and saw four people, three Alpine, one Nordic, lose their breakfast by the end! The Alpiners usually win the first few sprints but the endurance training of the Nordics kick in about halfway through the workout.
In two weeks we will conquer this dune again but with a pyramid-style format, 6 x 10 sec, 3 x 30 sec, 1 x 60 sec on the firmer side, then 3 x 30 sec up and over the softer side, finished off with 6 x 10 sec back on the firmer side. The family that plays together stays together and the ski team that suffers together can win together.
First competition: 12 x 20-30 second sprints (with six sprints on one side of dune, six sprints on the other for different terrain, surfaces and muscle sensations)
Two weeks later…
Second comp: Pyramid-style: 6 x 10 seconds, 3 x 30 seconds, 1 x 60 seconds on the firmer side of the dune. Then 3 x 30 seconds up and over softer side, and finally 6 x 10 seconds on the firmer side