TrainingWorkoutsWednesday Workout: Tad Elliott’s ‘Crumble Workout’

Brainspiral BrainspiralJanuary 27, 2016
Tad Elliott hammering for his fourth national title, and first one in four years, at 2016 U.S. Cross Country Championships earlier this month. Elliott (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail) won the 30 k freestyle mass start. (Photo: Christopher Schmidt)
Tad Elliott hammering for his fourth national title, and first one in four years, at 2016 U.S. Cross Country Championships earlier this month. Elliott (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail) won the 30 k freestyle mass start. (Photo: Christopher Schmidt)

Four days before Tad Elliott left Durango, Colo., for 2016 U.S. nationals in Michigan earlier this month, he did a brutal workout — his hardest one of the season.

“When using Firstbeat [heartbeat analysis] systems the last two years and going into Nationals, the files showed that I was a bit out of shape and hadn’t done enough hard training,” Elliott, a Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete, wrote in an email.

He couldn’t believe it; it certainly didn’t feel that way, but he trusted the data. So instead of allowing for a full recovery between intervals, he cut that rest time down.

What he was left with was what he calls the “Crumble Workout” — he pushes until he feels like he could crumble away.

Crumble Workout

(Elliott did this on “fast terrain at altitude trying to get ready for what the fast low courses at Houghton would feel like.”)

“I really think about moving quick. Moving my hands and legs fast,” he explained. “You can get away with it at low altitude but it hurts when you do it up high. Forcing myself to do it gets me sharper for low altitude.”

  • Full race warmup: 50 minutes. “I eat a bar partway through and make sure to hydrate well before and during the workout. During the 50 minutes, I do a 4-minute L3 [Level 3], then a couple of speeds to make sure I am really warm.”
  • Hard intervals: make each one better than the last, and aim to “blow up” during the last interval or two
    • 2 minutes all-out
    • Recover: 1 minute Level 2 skiing
    • 2 minutes all-out
    • Recover: 4 minutes easy

(Repeat 5 times)

  • Full cool down: 30 minutes, eating a protein bar immediately after and resting as needed.

“I blew up during the last two intervals. It hurt,” he recalled.

(Story continues below)

In Houghton, Mich., Elliott won the 30-kilometer freestyle mass start for his fourth national title and his first one since 2012. He spent much of the last two years recovering from illness.

Last Saturday, he placed second to Kris Freeman in the 30 k White Mountain Classic in Jackson, N.H. Freeman double poled the entire classic race and edged Elliott by 1 second at the line.

“I tried to drop Kris before the finish and was blown before the finish,” Elliott wrote. “The course at White Mountain has hills for sure but the were over pretty quick and then a ton of downhill and flats. … Kris killed it I was impressed. I don’t think I could have double poled that course!”

Elliott is next headed to the SuperTours in Lake Placid, N.Y., this weekend and in Stowe, Vt., Feb. 6-7.

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