Wednesday Workout: Metronomes with Michigan Tech’s Alice Flanders

BrainspiralSeptember 30, 2015
Sunrise on campus at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich. (All photos: Alice Flanders)
Sunrise on campus at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich. (All photos: Alice Flanders/

This week’s workout comes from Michigan Tech masters student and skier, Alice Flanders, also a satellite athlete with the Central Cross Country (CXC) Team. Flanders trains with the Michigan Tech team, and largely does workouts designed by head coach Joe Haggenmiller, while CXC Team coach Andy Keller oversees her training. Read her complete blog post here.

Do you have a workout you’d like to share? Email with the subject line: Wednesday Workout.


I’m waiting in the starting pen, the 20-degree wind blowing gently across the stadium as the clock beeps the tell-tale tones of another racer starting. I chisel the chunks of snow out of the bottom of my boot and clip into my skis. I step up to the wand.

“15 seconds”

“Beep… Beep… Beep….Beeeeeeeep”

I try to start but for some reason my feet just won’t move.

“Beep… Beep… Beep…. Beeeeeeeep”


Early morning speeds during metronomes at Michigan Tech in Houghton, Mich.
Early morning speeds during metronomes at Michigan Tech in Houghton, Mich.

Groggily, I fumble through the sheets looking for my persistently beeping phone. It’s 5:52 am and my body feels like a sack of bricks.

I roll over placing my index and middle finger on the underside of my wrist. 10 beats in 15 seconds, 40 BPM (beats per minute). Not a bad a.m. pulse, but that’s a little higher than normal. I’ll have to drink lots of water today and make sure I haven’t caught the back-to-school-plague that seems to have taken over the school.

Stepping outside, the entire town seems dead. If it weren’t for the street lights, I’d be unlocking my bike by starlight. Occasionally I’ll pass by a group of ROTC students running in synchrony, but until arriving at the Student Development Center there’s no one in sight.  This morning we’ll be doing metronomes, a workout where we double pole around the track at different tempos to work on technique and speed.

The Workout: Metronomes

Total Time: 45-60 min

Goal: Focus on high quality technique while using different tempos. Immediately apply this to sprints and starts.

Warmup: About 10 minutes or 3 songs


Set 1:  (with metronome playing over loudspeakers: listen to an actual metronome and match your pole plants to the beat)

2:30 @ 50 BPM

0:20 @ 60 BPM

0:10 @ 80 BPM

Repeat 3-5 times

Set Break: Length = one song of your choice

Set 2: 6-10 x 100-meter sprints

Cool down: About 10 minutes

This workout has a lot of benefits.

  • It teaches the athlete how to ski using varying tempos
  • By skiing around the track, it is much easier for coaches to work with athletes of different speeds and track progress throughout the session
  • Technique and tempo can be applied immediately during the 100m sprints
  • It’s good mass start practice due to the amount of passing that occurs
  • Pace lines will form and it’s fun to go fast in a group!
  • There are a lot of opportunities for younger skiers to ski with, watch and learn from older people on the team.
  • You get to listen to music
  • No Cars!

But be careful, this is an intensity session and should be counted as such. Recovery in between the 80 BPM and sprints should be a priority.

By 7:30 the sun is painting the sky hues of pink, purple and yellow. It’s not hard to realize how lucky we are to live in a place like this.

Class time: Where recovery and learning come together (Photo: Alice Flanders)
Class time: Where recovery and learning come together.

In class, while other students are guzzling coffee trying not to nod off, I’ve got positive endorphins keeping me engaged. However, as the day continues I find myself gazing out the window as storm clouds congregate on the horizon. It’s supposed to rain tonight. Right now I keep my fingers crossed that the rain will go somewhere else, keeping our roads dry for practice this afternoon. In a few weeks these clouds will hold potential for snow. As my professor fills the board with equations, I daydream about how much snow we’d get if it were 15 degrees cooler.

Excelling in any sport takes an extreme amount of commitment and self discipline. It takes over your thoughts, drives your decision making process and rules your schedule. Every moment of the day is carefully crafted to strengthen your body through nutrition, intensity, recovery or education. It’s an all encompassing full time job. Luckily, this job comes naturally when you have passion for the sport. It begs us to reach higher, to do one more pull-up, to push the limits of comfort and ultimately persevere. What are your goals this season?

Michigan Tech masters student and skier Alice Flanders setting goals. (Courtesy photo)
Michigan Tech masters student and skier Alice Flanders setting goals, specifically to podium in the American Birkebeiner skate race, as photographed on Brockway Mountain in Copper Harbor, Mich. (Courtesy photo)


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