On the day after my 58th birthday, I raced the Climb to the Castle. Again. It’s an incredible thrill to be on the same starting line as the best skiers in the U.S., even if I finish towards the back. This year, I finished within 6 seconds of my best time. And for the first time, instead of being totally gassed for the final half mile, I had good energy all the way to the finish.
During the dryland season, my goal is to do one Level 4 and one Level 3 workout each week. I hate to admit it, but now there are now some days when my body revolts and says, “Enough! You’re not finishing this interval session.” To that end, I try to make sure I’m really rested.
I take into account my work and my family commitments as well as the stuff in the training log. I hate conceding workouts, but nowadays, I’d rather do one really good interval workout rather than two mediocre sessions.
Although I have good terrain for dryland training, I don’t have super long hills. For a Level 4 workout, either running or rollerskiing, I’m going up a hill, back down and repeat. The recovery time is always a little longer than the actual work period. Not best practice, but possibly beneficial at my age.
“I hate conceding workouts, but nowadays, I’d rather do one really good interval workout rather than two mediocre sessions.” — Peter Minde, FS contributor and annual Climb to Castle competitor
Workout 1: 5 x 5 Minutes Level 4, Uphill Running
My bread-and-butter Level 4 workout is five repeats, five minutes, going uphill.
I do this either running or rollerskiing. It’s OK if the pitch varies, but the final few hundred meters should be the steepest. Generally, I run in the woods, and I use trails that aren’t excessively technical.
Warm up with dynamic stretching, then run 15 minutes at Level 1 in rolling terrain.
Then go 5 minutes up your hill at Level 2. Return downhill, and repeat with 5 minutes in Level 3. Finish that, go down, and you’re ready for the main event.
In the Level 4 section of the workout, I focus on starting in the lower end of my heart-rate range and increase the intensity over each interval. At the base of the hill, I moose hoof the first 30 meters before settling in to a run. During each repeat, I focus on positive self talk.
Workout 2: 5 x 5 Minutes Level 4, Rollerskiing
As with the running intervals, look for a long hill. It’s OK if there are rolling or short downhill sections; however, the final section of the hill should be steep enough that you have to check speed – snowplow, traverse, whatever – to return downhill safely.
Warm up as above. Fifteen minutes in Level 1, followed by 5 minutes of Level 2 and five minutes of Level 3.
As with running, my goal is to start conservatively and make the last interval the hardest. In addition to positive self talk, I focus on skiing transitions smoothly. If I’m classic rollerskiing, I’ll double pole a flat section and the base of the climb before changing to striding. If I’m skating, I try to V2 as much of the uphill as I can, or V1 the steep bits and switch to V2 where the grade is easier. Don’t forget the warmdown and stretching.
Workout 3: 3 x 15 Minutes, Running
While I do this on rollerskis, I prefer to run, because I’m able to keep recovery times to 3-5 minutes between hard work periods. Find a loop in the woods that takes approximately 14-16 minutes to run. It should be rolling with some long uphills.
Warmup: Similar to the Level 4 workouts above. Begin with dynamic stretching, followed by 15 minutes of easy running.
Ramp up your heart rate to Level 2 for five minutes, then head onto your loop and crank it up to a controlled pace. In downhills, I pick up the pace to keep my heart rate in the zone. At the end of 15 minutes, a short connector gives me around five minutes of recovery before the next repeat.
Then I run easy back to the car, for 15-20 minutes warming down.
Peter Minde is a FasterSkier contributor and personal trainer specializing in functional strength and corrective exercise. Whether skiing, trail running, or cycling, he’s always looking to see what’s at the top of the next hill. From the wilds of north N.J., he skis for Peru Nordic. On Twitter @PeteMinde or at www.oxygenfedsport.com.