Killer In­stinct

Bal­ance Your Aer­o­bic and Anaer­o­bic Sys­tems

SkiTrax - - Contents - by An­drew Newell

Here on the World Cup, we call it the mid-week in­ter­val. It de­rives its name from a typ­i­cal rac­ing sched­ule of two com­pe­ti­tions on the week­end, which leaves just enough time for one good in­ter­val ses­sion mid-week. This type of sched­ule is repli­cated at the No­ram, NCAA and high-school level all across North Amer­ica, and the goal of this mid-week ses­sion is the same – com­prise the best work­out to pre­pare the skier for the up­com­ing week­end races while at the same time con­tin­u­ing to im­prove and main­tain over­all fit­ness.

Sounds easy right? Well, in re­al­ity, it's not quite so sim­ple be­cause this mid-week in­ter­val ses­sion can vary a lot de­pend­ing what kind of ski races we've been com­pet­ing in. For ex­am­ple, if I have been rac­ing sprint af­ter sprint each week­end, prob­a­bly the last thing I need is to do some more four-minute Vo2­max in­ter­vals. This would con­tinue to work the same sys­tem too repet­i­tively, and even­tu­ally lead to a plateau in fit­ness, where I would even­tu­ally stop see­ing pos­i­tive fit­ness gains.

Ath­letes who com­pete in pri­mar­ily longer dis­tance races could find them­selves in the same sce­nario if their mid-week in­ter­val ses­sion fo­cuses too much on thresh­old, L4B and longer dis­tanced-paced in­ter­vals. If we don't con­tinue to work our aer­o­bic as well as anaer­o­bic sys­tems through­out the win­ter, it will be dif­fi­cult to main­tain top fit­ness.

I know this sounds pretty sim­ple, but it's not. Most ski rac­ers likely par­tic­i­pate in a com­bi­na­tion of dis­tance and sprint races from week­end to week­end, so how to de­ter­mine what the best mid-week in­ter­val ses­sion will be? Here on the World Cup, we solve this prob­lem by com­ing up with some pretty unique com­bi­na­tion ses­sions. The rule I like to live by in cre­at­ing these com­bi­na­tion in­ter­val ses­sions is to first pri­or­i­tize any fit­ness gains I want to ac­com­plish from the ses­sion, and then fol­low with any race-prepa­ra­tion gains.

For ex­am­ple, if I had a sprint com­pe­ti­tion on the up­com­ing week­end, but still wanted to pri­or­i­tize build­ing my base fit­ness mid-week, I would com­bine some thresh­old train­ing with some sprint in­ten­sity – per­haps 3x8-min­utes L3, fol­lowed by 10x30-sec­ond fast-paced in­ter­vals at the end. This would give me the best com­bi­na­tion to main­tain fit­ness, but also a chance to fine-tune speed in or­der to pre­pare for the up­com­ing race.

If my goal was to work more on Vo2­max build­ing, I could start with 5x4-min­utes L4, but then in­cor­po­rate some short 10- to 15-sec­ond sprints at the end of each in­ter­val, to prac­tise chang­ing speeds rapidly. An­other ex­am­ple of a dis­tance-rac­ing-fo­cused mid-week in­ter­val would be to do 3x10 min­utes at L3 thresh­old and fin­ish the work­out with 4x1-min­utes L4. That would help build my aer­o­bic base, but also al­low my sys­tem to touch on some L4 be­fore the race week­end.

On the World Cup, we try to pair up with our team­mates as much as pos­si­ble dur­ing these com­bi­na­tion work­outs in or­der to con­tin­u­ally push each other dur­ing the mid-week sea­son. An­other fun as­pect of trav­el­ing on the World Cup is that we are of­ten not the only team train­ing mid-week at the race venue. Most of the other coun­tries' ath­letes tend to do their mid-week in­ten­sity ses­sions on the same day as us, so it's com­mon to ca­su­ally meet up with dif­fer­ent com­peti­tors on the trails and join each other for in­ter­vals.

I have found that find­ing a bal­ance be­tween pre­par­ing for the up­com­ing race and con­tin­u­ing to keep my long-term fit­ness goals of the sea­son in mind is the best way to ap­proach these mid-week in­ter­val ses­sions. I think this is an im­por­tant per­spec­tive to have, and cre­ates a train­ing at­mos­phere that al­lows me to peak suc­cess­fully and main­tain high fit­ness through­out the en­tire race sea­son.

Cre­at­ing ap­pro­pri­ate com­bi­na­tion work­outs is the key to peak­ing suc­cess­fully while main­tain­ing high fit­ness.

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