05 January, 2010

Training Block

Feeling the pinch of the World Championships and Pierra Menta coming up soon, I've been training lots of Long Slow Distance, back to back days, all long days.  I have to admit, great skiing as well.  Ty Petrusic, Jeff Van Driel, and myself have been skiing in Steep Creek and the Whistler Backcountry for the past few days.
(Photo Left:  Ty Petrusic Skiing Off Russet Ridge)
We've had great snow conditions, stability being fair, but cold deep snow.  These conditions making long days of training easy to concentrate on, without getting bored of skiing up and down the same areas while solo.

My training block that I am using is based on Pierra Menta style events, which is designed to teach my body to recover and repair itself after a big day, and be ready for the next few consecutive days.  I've thrown in two sessions of Intervals and/or Race Pace training throughout this block.  With all of these days I've also had the opportunity to begin easing into a more restricted nutrition plan, and test a few fueling regimes.  With every day of training motivating me more to train more, as well as this interview that Stano Faban had with Peter Svatojansky, the preparation for Europe is getting more exciting.
(Photo Right:  Ty Petrusic skinning up to ski Chute 56 in the dark)

Long Slow Distance really is the base and structure that holds all of ski mountaineering training up.  It creates speed, as they say you have to go slow to go fast, with some (not too much) speed work.  There is no such thing as a free lunch,  as Mark Twight would say, and he makes a strong point.  So for everyone stoked on Interval training, take it easy, go for the entire day and ski more.  You know you're doing something right if your coming out of the mountains with a headlamp!


  1. hey Al,

    you going to whitefish on the 23rd?

  2. Unfortunately I cannot make it, was planning on it, but need to make some money for Europe. Is everyone on the Team heading out?

  3. The Golden crew is, it also sounds like Stano, James and Steve'll heading down too, dunno about the Revi yahoos though....hopefully.

    I'm hoping we can do the race on the cheap.... I'm in the same boat as you, Europe's going to be expensive.

  4. You're smart to get those big days in Al. Especially given the course lengths for the individual and solo events in Andorra (1800m and 2300m). Also, all above 2100m elevation. So the endurance will be tested thoroughly! So doing intervals at intensity above threshold will be on the backburner for me in light of the courses. www.canillo2010.org

  5. I think the biggest challenge is recovery between days, especially for Pierra Menta, as it is usually 2500m elevation gain a day for 4 days. I've been doing a few intervals, but not as many as just long days going up, or at least as much elevation gain as I can find time for.

  6. Alex, Thanks for the link out to the TNSTAAFL piece, and for getting it about the temptation of the shortcut. The massive base is one key to quick recovery, both within and after the effort. It doesn't come without a significant time investment. There is an entry fee to all levels of performance: a weekender level of volume won't produce national level fitness. The so-called "time-crunched" athlete won't ever get around this truth though many, including myself, have tried to do it. So use the headlamp, go out for the long days, sharpen it a bit with intervals but do most of the high-intensity work during races: intensity will be higher, and race-pace economy and neurological efficiency more appropriate. Have "fun" in France.

    Mark T.

  7. Thanks for the comment Mark. The long races, large volume, and constant attention to detail has been a hard hurtle to overcome. Racing along with the higher intensity training has been "fun," and continues to build the engine for real and longer, faster efforts in the mountains.

    Great to hear it from the master.

  8. Hi. I stumbled onto your blog. Great information. I linked it to mine -- slc-samurai.blogspot.com.

    Anyway, I raced the Pierra Menta last year. The back to back days are brutal. You're definitely on the right track doing LSD and back to back days. But make no mistake, the intensity at race pace for 4 days in a row is quite high. I didn't know I could go that hard that long. I think that it's smart during your LSD tours to work in some 20 to 30 min steady state intervals at or below threshold. I also think that at least 1 day per week should be devoted to hard speed intervals.

    Pierra Menta definitely pushes you to the limits. You're going to love it!

  9. Thanks Jared! I think that Pierra Menta will be a challenge, but will also add to the building of a stronger ski mountaineering base, racing aside. I am looking forward to discovering how hard I can go, and finding new limits to push.

    I was also thinking of trying to train a four day race pace block to mimic the intensity and recover periods.

  10. Hey Alex,
    Great to check out your site. I appreciate the link. I'll return the favor. We are all on the same page here in terms of training direction, CrossFit Endurance folks be damned! All that volume will pay off in spades at PM. Can't wait to read about your experience. Make sure you rest well leading up. Enjoy the taper!

  11. Thanks Brian! Hope the season has been treating you well, nice work with all the hardcore cycling this summer! Keep the hammer down!