This week’s workout comes from Michael Somppi, a 26-year-old Canadian National Development Team skier and Alberta World Cup Academy member. Also the current NorAm leader, Somppi won back-to-back races (a skate sprint and a skate mass start) at Western Canadian Championships this weekend for his first two victories of the season, and after a string of strong results this year, he explains one of his secrets to success.
I learned a trick of the trade this spring at a National Team training camp from new Canadian coach, Tor-Arne Hetland. It’s not a full workout, but more a tool you can use in your race-day warmup or post-interval session cool down.
When Hetland first introduced our team to this tool, it was after a hard, speed-focused running workout and everyone’s legs were full of lactate. He said of all the different things he’s tried over his years of racing and training, this was the most effective way he found to help the body flush lactate after a hard workout. The recipe is four repetitions of 15 seconds on/45 seconds off, and the key to doing this effectively is the pacing. The 15 seconds on is controlled Zone 4 speed. It is not full-out sprinting. The 45 seconds off is easy jogging or walking. Don’t just stand still, keep moving.
The Hetland Speed Drill
4 x 15 seconds on/45 seconds off (running): 15 seconds on at controlled Zone 4 speed (not full-out sprinting), 45 seconds off = easy jogging or walking.
30 seconds on/60 seconds off (skiing): 30 seconds on at Zone 4 speed, 60 seconds off = easy skiing
I used this tool after many hard ski-striding and running intensity workouts this past summer and can report it is helpful for flushing lactate. I also started experimenting using this tool as part of my warm-up for running races to even greater effect.
After doing some Zone 1 and one longer Zone 3 effort, I would finish my warm up with the 4 x 15/45. It worked so well for me that when I was faced with having to do a partial running warmup for my races at the Rossland NorAm due to lack of snow, I decided to use this tool again. I felt ready to go when I hit the start line and performed well. [Note: Somppi placed third and fourth in the two classic distance races in Rosalind, B.C.]
The reason I like using this short interval set for final warmup prep is because it’s a good way to elevate the heart rate and move the body at higher speed without producing much lactate. With the efforts being short (15 seconds) and not full-out, you aren’t doing enough to build any significant lactate, however with the relatively short rest period (45 seconds) your heart rate doesn’t drop all the way back to where it originally was, so each consecutive effort your heart rate is becoming more elevated.
Next I wanted to try using it in my race prep on snow. I don’t generally need to do that kind of higher-speed effort before a distance race, but I thought this could be perfect for a sprint qualifier warm-up. The problem is skiing is different than running with the whole glide aspect. I decided 15 seconds would not be long enough for me to get the feeling I want in my race warmup so I altered it slightly to four reps of 30 seconds on/60 seconds off. I used this formula as the final step in my warmup for the skate sprint qualifier this past weekend in Canmore and it worked out really well for me.
This little piece of wisdom handed down to me from Hetland has been very useful for me and I hope you can find ways of benefitting from it as well.