Thursday, February 6, 2014

My favorite local threshold training venue
I have been trying to come up with ways to get more value out of limited training time after the Wolf Creek Pass race and my chats with some racers who, unlike me, actually know what they are doing. Ive come up with some things that, while not new ideas by any stretch are good reminders that time and opportunities are what you make of them.

Mileage can add up (multiple short workouts)

If I dont have the time to run for an hour or if I get only a few hours of "resort uphilling" (term courtesy of while my kids are running gates, I dont try and extend the workout and inconvenience everyone around me (especially people I like a lot like my wife, kids, etc!). I just call it good and try to squeeze in another workout later in the day.

This is supposedly not only a totally legit way to get the mileage but may even have additional health benefits. It is a concept similar to advice for back-to-back long days in ultra training.

One way I do it is getting in a 40 min run in to work and then another 40 min run home. If I just went out after work, Id get in about an hour or just over so not only do I get more mileage but it doesnt cause my training to take up too much family time in the evening when homework and basket ball practice rule (if you dont understand this last remark this blog may not be for you!).

Threshold training on skis - you dont need much snow

As mentioned in the Wolf Creek race post as well as in a few athlete interviews on, it seems you had better not be skimping on speed workouts if you want to up your game. Since the best workouts are sport-specific I try to ski whenever I can. However, I hate driving and burning gas just to work out as covered in this great post on missing the point on Inevitably, I either run or if the year is conducive to good snow at my house, x-country ski. I started trying to figure out ways to do threshold workouts on skis around my usual haunts and started eying a North facing pasture on my neighbors property. Luckily she is cool with someone running up and down it when there are no cows there as is the case in the winter.
Its hard to see but right in the shadow center of the picture there is a skin track and a bunch of down tracks. This hiss is shelters from the sun so holds snow well after surrounding slopes are bone dry. It isnt much snow but enough to skin! I can get a 1:30 uphill threshold interval on this skin track and then coast back down with skins still on in about :30 making it a great threshold interval sequence. Ill do that for an hour. Best of all, I can walk here from where I live. No dinosaurs burned to get to this workout...

Overdistancing for everyday people

I get the whole concept of overdistancing. Basically, you want to do long zone 1 (recovery pace) workouts for about 1.5 to 2 times the distance of your races. The advantages are plenty and seem to apply to endurance events of typical skimo race length. Is this feasible for someone without tons of training time available? Im starting to think that routine overdistancing is not as easy to squeeze in as I had hoped. I can get up to 6 hours once a month and possibly 2 4-5 hour days but that is about it. I guess that is just a fact of life. That being said though, the idea of over or even just "as long as possible" distance training is obviously important so do what you can!

On a personal note, I have found it really hard to stay in zone 1 (~60% MHR) on these long days. If you have put in a good solid couple of weeks of training including long days on the weekend it is easy to convince yourself to stay in zone 2 but zone 1 is only somewhere I find easy to stay after a good 3-4 hours. Till then its a struggle!

Family ski time as skimo workout

Just an aside but as my kids get better at downhill skiing, spending a solid day in area with them on one day of the weekend and then resort uphilling the next while they do their race team thing adds a huge amount of volume to the weekly total. In the summer I get 5-6 hours in per week but the last month Ive been counting and I get about 10-12 hours! As mentioned in the Wolf Creek post, good skimo racers emphasize downhill gains. You wont make those on skintrack days!


Finally, one thing I finally bumped up against was overtraining. I hit it after a week with 15 hours of total training including a 1.5 hour threshold run with 20 min intervals, a 6 hour uphill session and a 4.5 hour uphill session (with some other runs in there too). The next week sucked. I just could not hit zone 2 for an hour run and my threshold workout was pathetic. I was really worn down. I took it easy but kept exercising and the next week it started to come back. Just a mild case of pushing it and pushing it to a new level but something to keep in mind if you start increasing your distances/training time and are not a machine. Just be honest with yourself and listen!


While there are certain aspects of training that can never be addressed well when you just plain dont have the time, there are definitely strategies that can help you improve your fitness level by creating efficiencies in how you use the time you have. These have struck me as the biggies. If you have any strategies that seem to work well Id love to hear about them!


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