I’m now entering into the pre-competition phase of training. This means less hours (slightly), but more intensity. I’m now doing 2 hard quality workouts each week. I stumbled onto French physiologist, Monique Billatt’s research. She came up w/ an interval protocol that increased VO2 max by 6-8% and running time improvement also at the 6-8% level. Her recommendations have found their way into the track running world and cycling world (& maybe now skimo!).
Her workout (for 8 weeks to bring improvement, then continuing) consists of ~20 x :30 sec effort at a 1 mile race pace. Each interval has only :30 sec rest between. Do this for as many as you can before your performance significantly drops...typically around 20.
I find that the first few intervals aren’t that hard, but it doesn’t take long until that :30 rest seems waaaay too short. When I go, I monitor my heart rate. I also count out loud so the quality interval isn’t interrupted in any way by constantly checking the watch.
I also perform them on a long uphill. I was going to Nakiska ski area and running up the access road, but then discovered a great trail at the Canmore Nordic Centre. I go up the World Cup ski trails, then a trail up the ridge leading to Rundle mountain. The further you go up, the steeper it gets.
Last night the last few steps on interval #20 brought me to total exhaustion. I think my last step was the last possible one I could have done. Lactic acid piled up and there was no strength at all in my legs to take me another step further. It might have helped that I did leg strength that morning.
Small victory there too as I accomplished my goal for squats (I do ½ squats). My body weight (150) x 50 x3. There were a couple pauses in there to achieve the goal, but w/ continued work I think I can do the 50 straight. It really feels like a downhill ski run as lactic acid and fatigue really build up. I imagine myself going down a mogul filled skimo race course and try to push through the pain.
Oh, by the way, they’ve fired up the Frozen Thunder ski track at the nordic centre. 2km loop of summer stored snow. It’s been great to be sliding again. I’ve been skiing there on my easy days. Won’t be long ‘til winter is here in full force. I’m ready.