Nordic Ski Training Log: A weekly workout log preparing for the Mammoth Biathlon - Week 5

After a few weeks floundering around on my skate skis, I finally got up the nerve to attend one of the skate skiing clinics at Tamarack Lodge. 

Having figured out the basics, I entered into the “improve your skate” clinic with Alana Levin, the very professional who has been providing our weekly workout routine preparing for the biathlon. And I didn’t even plan it!
As a professional in the field of recreation myself, I have immense appreciation for high quality instruction in anything, really, but especially mountain sport techniques. As a mountain guide, I have seen so many people on my own mountaineering and climbing courses skyrocket in their abilities when I manage to key in to what works for them and communicate my thoughts clearly. 
These moments are what I live for as a mountain guide—when I see it all click for my client. Alana did exactly that for me.
The first sign of an excellent instructor is when they can demonstrate perfect technique, and then turn around and demonstrate exactly what you are doing, showing you clearly why it just doesn’t work as well, and why it’s less efficient. 
Doing something perfectly wrong is often harder for a skilled athlete than doing it perfectly right—this ability to demonstrate wrong techniques is what distinguishes professionals from talented athletes—and the visual aid it gives us is priceless. 
Alana clued us in to what each and every one of us was doing, gave us drills to improve it, and followed each of us closely while we tried diligently to do exactly as she said. For one gentleman, the drill didn’t do what she had hoped—so she gave him another drill that focused on another aspect of his skiing, digging through her immense toolkit of drills to perfectly tailor his workout to his needs.
All the while, we skied around the beautiful trails of Tamarack Lodge—between Twin Lakes, and up little hills through dense forest. The whole package was just perfect. 
Considering what many of us pay per month for a gym membership, versus the cost of a season pass to Tamarack and the price of the quality instruction I received in just one two-hour clinic, I just can’t imagine spending my time on a treadmill. 
Specific weight training and yoga and aerobic classes are a major perk to gyms, but if you’ve been getting your cardio inside, try cross-country skiing just once. If the motion is challenging at first, this is normal. Perhaps frustrating. But the beautiful scenery and fresh air makes it all well worth the effort.
Conditions report
Not much out of the ordinary this week. As always, soft, new snow poses a challenge for skating, but once groomed and given a bit of time, the track will set up nicely. Tamarack continues to do the best it can with whatever weather it is given, and is always well worth the price of admission. Other local options continue to run a bit thin for skating, but Rock Creek Lodge did manage to get out to groom Wednesday morning after the storm. Fingers crossed for healthy dusting this coming week!
Biathlon in the news!
The Biathlon World Championships were held this week in Rupholding, Germany. American Susan Dunklee placed fifth in the women’s 15k Biathlon—making the United States’ best ever finish in the women’s biathlon!
Words of wisdom from Olympic Biathlete Glenn Jobe: the winners are the athletes who can ski the fastest and shoot the most accurately.  
“Sounds simple, yes?” asks Levin, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Nordic Coach. “Let’s get dialed in your last two weeks of training for the 2012 Mammoth Biathlon.” 
Here are her recommended workouts of the week:
Beginner skier workout 
Long ski: Easy ski for just over one hour. Plan your last long ski workout by Wednesday (8-10 days before the race).
Intervals: Try the “Fartlek.” This is a casual interval drill. Just pick a landmark or a short hill ahead of you and go hard until you reach the landmark. Repeat at the next landmark, or just when you feel ready.  
Technique: Put on your good ski technique and focus on it while skiing for 45 minutes. 
Target practice: The better you are at hitting your target, the less you have to ski during the race!
Experienced skier workout
Long ski: Schedule your last long ski for 10 days before race day. Ski at an easy level for about 10-15k, or just over an hour. Add 6x15 second speeds (during the easy ski) with 2 minutes of recovery. 
Intervals: Tempo workout. Warm up for 20 minutes, then ski for 10-20 minutes at race pace (roughly Level 3: “I can think clearly but I can’t talk much”). Pick hilly terrain to practice transitioning from flats to uphills, over the hills and down again. Cool down for 20 minutes.
Intervals: Yes, intervals again! Be sure each interval workout is spaced 48 hours from the last one so you have time to recover. Warm up for 20 minutes, then, at Level 4 (“No talk, need to focus”), ski for 1 minute, 5-10 times, with 1-2 minute recovery ski in between. Cool down for 20 minutes. Use flat terrain for this interval workout.
Target practice: Miss fewer targets, ski less penalty loops!