On one hand, it seems as though the summer has gone by so fast! On the other hand, 2020 has been a tough year and it feels like April was eons ago. This summer, my teammates and I have probably spent the most time ever training and hanging out around the Stratton area in Vermont. With the exception of a one-week family vacation and a few weekend trips around New England, I’ve been living up on the mountain since mid-May. Being a part of a team that is used to traveling for camps almost monthly and as an individual who can get restless when there “isn’t much going on,” the thought of this intimidated me back in the spring.
However, my teammates, coach and I have been getting creative at finding interesting new workouts to do, trails to run and dirt roads to bike on. For anyone interested in what training looks like for a typical “professional cross-country skier,” here is a deep dive into the last three weeks of my summer training...
Week 1: 8/10-8/16
Monday: Day off! This might seem strange to start the week with a day of rest, but we usually put in a lot of hours over the weekend so it’s very necessary for us to put our feet up for a bit. I typically spend my Monday’s doing a few hours of work for my online job, go grocery shopping, get a massage (maybe twice a month), afternoon yoga and cooking up a more extensive dinner meal (frequently homemade pizzas).
Tuesday: Solo threshold/L3 classic rollerski workout with 5x10 min of gradual climbing. For whatever reason, my female teammates all had different schedules and we were unable to do this workout together. It was freaking HOT AND HUMID so this workout took a little extra out of me. In the afternoon, I did a 30 min run as a warm up for an hour long strength session.
Wednesday: A 2.5 hour gravel bike ride with Sophie, Jessie, KO and Ida. The purpose of this ride was to be a super easy recovery after yesterday’s workout and before hitting it again hard tomorrow.
Thursday: 5k skate pace project. This is a new workout that our team has incorporated into our summer training. We found a 5k stretch of road that is super hilly and twisting/windy so it could act as a model for a real ski race course. The idea is to do 3x5k at a time trial or race effort, although we aren’t quite there yet. When we first did this workout in early July it was completely as L3/threshold. In August, we ramped this up to one run at threshold, the second a mix of L3/L4 and then the final was more of a time trial effort. This is a VERY hard workout and should only get harder as the training season goes on. We also followed this up with an afternoon strength session in the gym.
Friday: 2.5 hours classic roller ski with Jessie and KO in the morning. Then, 1.5 hour afternoon run/hike up the back side of Stratton Mountain and back down the front.
Saturday: Classic roller ski speed workout with 4x6min of 15 seconds on and 45 seconds off to help build power while also practicing flushing out lactic acid in our legs. In the afternoon, I went for a 1 hour shakeout run and then met my teammates in the gym again for some core.
Sunday: 3.5 hour solo run around the lakes/ponds behind Stratton Mountain. Again, my teammates and I were on slightly different schedules and few foot injuries prevented anyone from joining me on this one. :( But it capped off a 21.5 hour week!
After a big week of training with three major intensity sessions, I was desperate for another day off before starting one of my last big volume weeks of the summer.
Week 2: 8/17-8/23
Monday: Day off, phew!
Tuesday: Classic roller ski threshold/L3 workout of 2x25ish minutes of double poling on pretty fast terrain to work on high speed, neuromuscular motions. Not a workout that exhausted me but definitely made my back a bit (a lot) sore and challenged me to double pole with power and speed for an extended period of time while following my super strong lady teammates. We followed this up with an afternoon strength session.
Wednesday: Went for a longer run with KO, Sophie and Ben. We chatted about a lot of "girl stuff," so I was impressed Ben didn't take off and ditch us after 30 minutes. In the afternoon, I went for a short, easy skate ski.
Thursday: 2.25 classic roller ski in the morning followed by an afternoon rip around on the mountain bikes with KO and Bill. I was immediately dropped during the bike ride, but then waited for so I could be the "water carrier" while Bill went for a downhill KOM Strava segment... this is what teammates are for!
Friday: Skate roller ski workout with 8min L3 warmup, 4x2min at L4a with little recovery, and then 3-4x8min L3 to practice skiing well with tired little leggies. I was definitely suffering by this point in the training block with a lot of intensity and hours under my belt, but I was able to get things together for another afternoon strength session.
Saturday: 4 hour run on the Appalachian Trail going up and over Pico and Killington Mountain.
Sunday: Another day of easy distance consisting of a ski in the morning with Jessie and an afternoon gravel bike ride to round out a 25 hour week of training.
After finally coming to the end of a pretty solid and significant training block, I was very ready for an easy week. As I've ramped up my training in the last few years I have come to realize how necessary easy weeks are. In order to find improvement in my skiing and fitness, I need to be well rested, but I also need to be mentally prepared to keep things firing. I frequently try to get away from Stratton during an easy week, sometimes I don't bring my roller skis or walk into a gym at all and instead go running, hiking and biking with family and friends. However, this year it has been more challenging to get away during easy weeks. So, when I am in Stratton for some chill time it usually looks something like this.
Week 3: 8/24-8/30
Monday: A day off with more yoga and maybe some "corona-safe" socializing.
Tuesday: Morning run that was supposed to be easy but didn't feel very easy. Clearly, my body was still tired. Then a mini core session.
Wednesday: Very chill mountain bike ride!
Thursday: Back on roller skis for a short skate workout of 1x25 mins of L3 to wake up the rested body, followed by an afternoon strength session.
Friday: App Gap roller ski race in Northern Vermont, put on by NENSA (New England Nordic Ski Association). Our team woke up early to make the drive north for a 7.5k race up a mountain. The race had been going on all week with various teams competing one day at a time, or virtually. It was a great and safe race that tested out a few ways we might be racing this winter. I then hopped in the car to visit my brother, Anders, at UNH before he starts classes this week.
Saturday: Run in the rain with Anders and some of his UNH teammates.
Sunday: Longerish skate roller ski to end a 13 hour training week.
Summer training involves A LOT of volume! I come from a background in ski training with fewer summer intervals and higher hours. Although, I have gradually incorporated more intensity into June-August, it is still an adjustment I am working on. In addition, reflecting on what I am able to accomplish at this point in time versus what I was capable of handling 4-6 years ago is drastically different. If I tried to train this much in high school or even in college, I would be burnt to crisp before any colorful leaves could fall. Back in high school, my biggest weeks in the summer would MAYBE reach 18 hours and in college they were around 21-22 hours. It is pretty cool to see the progress though and to realize how much I've learned about training from my coaches at UVM, in Bend, OR and here at SMS. Not to mention everything I have learned from following teammates out on the roads or around the trails. It's pretty great to be able to take advantage of the people you're surrounded by and take something away from them every single day. They're not lying when they say team work makes the dream work!
PS- I'm a big Strava girl as of the last 10 days so if you're interested in following along with more workouts, go check out my Strava account!
When training is going well, it’s hard to justify taking some down time. Most skiers want to keep pushing themselves and working hard until their body breaks, but I’ve recently found myself feeling more burnt out mentally than I am physically. That’s why I was really appreciative of Coach Pat including a mid-summer break in our training schedule so that my teammates and I could travel if necessary.
With Covid, traveling becomes really tricky and it requires much more time before and after to quarantine, get tested, etc. Add to that the paranoia of a bunch of athletes worried about exposing themselves and their loved ones to something dangerous… there are a lot of hoops to jump through! A few weeks ago, some of us experienced flying during a pandemic for the first time and I traveled out to Colorado to meet my family for a one-week vacation. I didn’t pack roller skis and I actually forgot to pack my heart rate monitor *gasp*. I had just finished one of my biggest volume weeks ever and suddenly I felt free to relax!
I went on walks with my mom, 10-mile bike rides with my 80-year-old grandpa, and hikes with my aunt, uncle and cousins. No longer was I worried about getting in enough volume or keeping my heart rate high enough (or low enough ehem, altitude…) and just appreciated the people and nature that I was around.
Somedays, we hiked for 8-10 hours. Other days, I went for a 30 minute jog with my sister. My mom, sister and I sat by the pool in the afternoon and cooked up a storm in the evenings. By the end of the week, my siblings and I decided it wouldn't be a family vacation without a Sonnesyn team race. We were in Vail, CO and somehow found one of the only running races that was actually happening this summer: a 4.5 mile run up the mountain. Of course! We wore face coverings at the start/finish line and with the steep grade the crowd spread out pretty quickly.
I came in last place out of the sibling race, but it was still really fun to do some hard run/hiking with my sister for a few miles before she dropped me. The night before the 7am race my uncle had challenged us by betting that the last sibling to cross the finish line had to shot gun a beer at the top of the mountain. We really had no idea which sibling this might be! The one requirement was that my uncle beat us at the top on his bike before we finish the race. Thankfully, he got a later start that morning that he anticipated so I was in the clear. Just some great family competition!
With my heart feeling full and happy again, I parted ways with my family and made the trip back east. I quarantined in a separate condo for a week and did all of my training alone. Normally, I would be bummed about this, but with all of the activities and excitement with my family the week before I was feeling okay with a little down time. Also, with such a long break from roller skiing and hard workouts, I was suddenly so excited to do roller ski intervals again and get back into working on my weaknesses.
After a negative Covid test and lots of hand sanitizer, I rejoined my teammates for training sessions in Stratton. We've been able to pick it up right where we left off with plenty of intervals and lots of volume. However, I think the most important thing to realize is that I wouldn't have been able to do this without a week away. Reflecting on summer training in previous years, the high amount of intervals that we do as a team can be really hard for me to keep up with. I've tried just pushing through the summer, attending all of the team camps and jumping into every workout without realizing how much stress my body has been under. This year, I'm feeling grateful for the break I've given myself both physically and mentally!
Cross country skiing is a very unique sport. It requires self discipline and goal setting, which can be difficult to motivate yourself for. Not to mention all of the equipment and clothing you need in order to glide across snow when it's -5 degrees! Luckily, you don't have to do this alone. Gear West Ski and Bike shop is always around to help!
I am so excited to be working with Gear West this year as my official headgear sponsor! Not only does Gear West support everything great about cross country skiing such as races and fun events, the shop also works with the community to create opportunities to get outside and explore! The Twin Cities is one bustling area, but Gear West helps you step back, smell the flowers, and enjoy the view. Whether that means helping you pick out a new pair of skis that are just the right fit for you or inviting you along for a Wednesday night bike ride from the store, the mission is still the same; get outside, move around and enjoy it!
I so vividly remember the first time I walked into Gear West in search of a new pair of skis. I was in 8th grade, had made some major gains in my skiing ability and also grown a lot in middle school. Grateful that my parents could support my skiing so much, I was still nervous to step through that door and get fitted for a new pair of classic skis. However, the staff was so welcoming, working hard at 7:00 on a Friday night in November to make sure that I was ready to chase my goals when the snow fell. With their help, I found the perfect pair of Rossignol skis that I soon referred to as my "magic skis" because they were so fast, yet I could kick up any hill I came across!
Gear West isn't just a shop for outdoor equipment, it's an access point to a whole new world. With a tremendous crew of hard-working, dedicated athletes, the team knows how to lead by example. The owner, Jan Guenther, is the epitome of a badass lady (excuse my language). She has opened the door to female athletes to make sure they feel safe and comfortable trying new things and she inspires them in the process. She also gives most Birkie Elite Wave men a run for their money! Not to mention all of the time and energy Jenny Beckman puts into making sure every little detail is taken care of so outreach events and races can run smoothly. It's pretty exciting to be surrounded by such strong women and they motivate me to keep chasing my goals!
It's impossible to predict what this ski season will look like, but I know that Gear West is determined to support it in any way possible. I am really looking forward to working with the shop to create safe and creative options to get more adults feeling fit, juniors challenging themselves and setting goals, and youth playing outside!
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.