Intervals and Injury Prevention!
In last month's August post I introduced the idea of power training. Well, September IS power training. It's all about INTERVALS. Days are getting shorter, leaves are changing color.... heck, there may even be some frost on your windshield in the morning.... If you haven't already gotten out your bounding poles, this is the time to do it!
At APU the women's team is doing two sets of two-week power blocks with an "adjustment week" in the middle of the five-week block. So far I have successfully finished the first power block and am in adjustment week, prepping for the second two-week period of hard, fast, short intervals. Typically my strengths lie in medium to long aerobic efforts (give me a 30 minute slightly uphill race and I'm happy!) but my desire is to improve things like my double pole finish or my jump skate for skate sprints. Raw speed and power is becoming more and more important as there are more mass start races and sprint races. The days of the old, traditional interval start racing seem to be disappearing and it's important to adapt to the times if you want to perform well. It's funny, as I was looking through the morning news I found an article where Olympic marathon runner, Kara Goucher states the same thing: (I love finding parallels with athletes in other sports!)
Okay, so what kinds of workouts am I talking about specifically? Here are a couple of interval sessions that we've done lately:
• 10 x 1.5 minutes bounding with poles (speed/L5)
• 4-6 x 4 minutes bounding with poles (Vo2max/L4)
• 10 x 1 minute skate roller ski uphill (speed/L5)
• 4-6 x 3 minutes skate roller ski, rolling terrain (Vo2max/L4)
• 12 x 45 seconds uphill Double pole roll (speed)
• Fartlek/rolling intervals, 15, 30, 45, 60 seconds x 4 with the aforementioned interval every three minutes (speed)
A typical power week will have 2-3 speed sessions and 2 L4 sessions. Often, the speed session comes before the Vo2max session with the theory that faster work needs to be done when the body is freshest. So, Monday could be speed, Tuesday could be L4, Wednesday is active recovery (L1) and then Thursday is speed, Friday is L4, etc. At APU we also choose to lift in the afternoons after hard interval sessions, ie, the L4 days.
Right now we're picking just a small handful of exercises.... here is an example of our recent lifting program:
Jumping one leg hill 2 Sprint hill 8 to 10 high knees 20 reps 2 skate jumps 20 reps 2 two leg 6 reps 2 Strength REP SET Pull ups 4 3 Squat 4 3 Lying row 4 3 Push Press 10 3 Swing Kettle/med. ball chop 10 3 Slow Tricep extension 10 3 Partner Core front plank w/weight 60 2 Sit Up with med ball throw partner 30 2 hip lifts 30 2 rotational sit up with med ball partner 30 2 Partner side plank with med ball, both sides 60 2 crunch: elbow-knee 30 2 4pt with alternating 1/4:1 (30 on each side) 60 2
As you can see, we have three primary components: jumping, strength and core. With the additional stress of more intervals, it's usually necessary to bring down one's overall volume. (If you looked at Kara's link, you will have seen that she alluded to this too; running 90 miles per week rather than her typical 120.) Sometimes this can be hard to swallow as I know that some athletes, myself included, have a tendency to want to train MORE all the time.
But, it's important to note that more is not always better, especially in the case of heavy intensity blocks. The past couple of weeks I think I've made the mistake of doing too much volume in addition to the intervals and therefore, this "adaptation week" is turning into more of a "recovery week" for me. That is fine, as long as I acknowledge that my body needs to rest and absorb the training I've been doing. While the training itself is important, making sure that your body is physically capable of doing the specific work is equally, if not more important.
I feel like lately I've been surrounded by accidents, overuse injuries and the like. Any athlete who pursues sport at a high level is bound to come across some road bumps along the way but it's important to be proactive about listening to your body. Sometimes the overuse injuries, in particular, can be stopped before they become major problems. Two of my teammates, Sadie and Kikkan, have been battling injuries lately and they recently discussed them in a fasterskier article here:
I've had my fair share of injuries.... my wrist last Christmas, my rib this spring, 4 years of elbow tendinitis which gets really inflamed when it's cold and my roller ski poles pound hard pavement.... As cross country skiers I find that we depend on "toughness" quite often. We do bounding intervals in the mud, roller ski in the pouring rain. Race when it's zero and blowing sideways. Sometimes, this translates into training in a negative way. If your foot is hurting (for example) many skiers will have a tendency to "work through the pain" rather than address it. Unfortunately this is the exact wrong thing to do. It's imperative to differentiate being gritty in races and workouts and being proactive when it comes to pain that may inhibit you further down the road.
To address this, follow this basic rule: If it hurts (the bad hurt, not the good hurt), stop doing it. I'll give the example of my elbows. Sometimes I roller ski double pole so much that I can barely lift my arms over my head to undress.... Rather than incapacitating myself, why not use an exergenie where I can work the same muscles but minimize the impact? Be proactive, be creative, and remember that while you suffer from injuries, other people do too. This was put right in front of my face when Charlotte Kalla (Swedish Olympic Gold Medalist) roller skied our entire camp without poles because she suffers from elbow problems as well!
Alright, that's enough for now! Time to go and train..... and then recover! Good luck and get out there for some 1 minute gut-busters!
Have fun and smile big,