Setting Up Your Program

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    Activity level and where to start: This section explains how to get started and where to begin in my workouts.
    Types of training: This section covers information on how alter your current workouts.
    General stuff: This section covers general information such as motivation, overtraining, self tests, setting goals
    and so all about cross-country skiing.

Activity Level and Where To Start

If you have never cross-country skied before make sure you read this. Click here

Since cross-country skiing is aerobic and fitness based the first thing you want to do is develop endurance.  If you are a sedentary person its best to start with lots of low intensity activities.  I would suggest a stationary bike or walking first, followed by stair stepping then, aerobics or jogging.  Finding other ways to exercise everyday will also have a benefit like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, pushing a lawn mower instead of riding one, walking your dog further than normal, or even carrying your clubs golfing instead of using the golf cart.  By doing this you will burn more calories in the day and a set time isn't needed to work out because these are things you do in your everyday life.
If your truly sedentary and you want to get in shape you have to totally change your life style.  Start by assessing your physical and program readiness, then test your fitness levels.  I have provided the desired information just click here.  I suggest starting with the first workout in stage1 and not pushing yourself too hard.  If you push yourself too hard, the next day you will be sore, tired and wanting to quit before you even gave yourself a chance.  So go out with a friend or by yourself and just enjoy the outdoors.

If you are already an active person I suggest you should start by running the 1.5 mile test.  This will tell you your fitness level and where to start.  The better shape your in, the higher you can start on the skiing stages I have provided. If your score in the poor or fair range in the 1.5 run I suggest starting with the first sample workout given in stage 1.  If you are in good or excellent shape I would suggest that you start between stages 2 and 4.  And if you are in superior shape I would suggest you start in stages 5 or 6.  Remember that the workouts are simple and made for your modifications.  Only 1 workout has been provided at each stage but take into account I have given you enough information below that you can create your own workouts.  What would also help is joining a cross-country skiing club.  Having friends to workout with will make it more fun

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Types Of Training

Specificity Principle:
This simply means your training program should reflect your desired outcomes.  If you want to build just an aerobic base you would want to go for long, slow distance training.  If you don't have the time short, fast, hard workouts will develop your anaerobic system.  Depending on your goals and the rule of specificity you should plan your workouts accordingly.

To keep your mind from bogging down vary your technique, ski on different trails, and be sure to change intensities and distances of your workouts.  If possible include training days of jogging, biking, downhill skiing, or swimming to keep you fresh.

Day Off Rule:
To avoid over training make sure to take a day off to rest and let your muscles recuperate.  The best days to take days off are after every workout or after two days of exercising and taking weekends off.  An example would be working out monday, wednesday, and friday or monday, tuesday, thursday, friday.  As you get better in shape you can workout monday through friday and taking the weekends off.

Hard-Easy Principle:
The principle of hard-easy means after a hard session the next day you should have an easy session.  Hard workouts can put a lot of stress on the body and the best way to recover is to have an easy workout the next day that leaves you refreshed and energized after the workout.  Hard workouts don't necessarily mean high intensity, its determined by how tired you are after the workout.  Some people can cross-country ski for four hours and leave them refreshed so to raise the intensity, spice it up and improve your conditioning do short intervals using speed.

The term interval simply means a period of high intensity followed by a recovery period.  Intervals allow you to spend more time on a chosen intensity by breaking it down into short segments followed by periods of easy or low intensity training.  Intervals are broken down into three categories, aerobic, anaerobic, and speed.
    A. Aerobic:
        Aerobic means "with air or oxygen" so when you are working out you are not out of breath.  This form of exercise is good for beginners because there is muscle fatigue, calories and fat are burned and it isn't very stressful.  In cross-country skiing this is good if you are focused on long distance and is done by doing three minutes of aerobic intensity followed by your slower recovery period.
    B. Anaerobic:
        Anaerobic means "without air or oxygen" so when you are training you are almost out of breath. This form of exercise is good for active people and up.  Depending on how of good of shape you are in determines how fast you need to go to be going in the anaerobic stage.  The anaerobic speed should be between a jog and a sprint.  This is considered a hard workout and is done for about 30 minutes to an hour.  It should be considered like a short race, taking a rest, then doing it again.
    C. Speed:
        This interval is also anaerobic, but the intensity in maximal and the duration is short.  Speed intervals are good for learning how to recruit more muscle fibers and learning the coordination of skiing fast.  As your maximal speed increases your technique will become better and your sustainable submaximal or aerobic speed will increase as well.

Overload Principle:
To break past barriers, slumps, and sticking points push yourself and overload your body more than normal.

Periodization is way to systematically plan your training sessions to avoid overtraining and to maximize your workout sessions.  With periodization, you should vary the type, amount, and intensity of training for several weeks, a month or even a whole year.  An example would be either one of these.

Week 1: Low intensity, long duration
Week 2: Medium intensity, long duration
Week 3: High intensity, short duration
Week 4: Low intensity, long duration
Stage 1: Low intensity, short duration
Stage 2: Low intensity, long duration
Stage 3: Medium intensity, short duration
Stage 4: Medium intensity, long duration
Stage 5: High intensity, short duration
Stage 6: High intensity, long duration

Principle of Reversibility:
When the exercise stimulus is removed the training adaptations begin to reverse.

General Stuff

Warm up and Cool Down:
Warming up is very important to get your muscles ready for strenuous activity. A good warm up will make your exercise session easier, more enjoyable, help prevent injuries and improve training gains.  The general concept is to begin the warm up with very low intensity and keep you heart rate 50 % below your max. heart.  The harder and longer your training session the longer you should warm up.

It is important at the end of a workout to slowly reduce the intensity and allow your muscles and circulation to slow down before you stop.  If you come to an abrupt stop, your working muscles will no longer be assisting the venous return of blood to your heart, allowing for blood pooling in arms and legs making you feel light headed and weak. Warm up and cool down should be done for at least 5-10 minutes, each followed by stretching.  Make sure to stretch all the major muscles groups like used in cross-country skiing.  They are:
1. Hamstrings
2. Quadriceps
3. Calf
4. Buttocks and hip
5. Lower back
6. Groin
7. Triceps
8. Chest
9. Biceps
10. Neck

Setting Goals:
Why set goals?  Goals focus your workout routine and clarify what you are trying to achieve.  As you near and reach your goals you become encouraged, exciting and makes you feel good.  Here some guidelines.
1. Make short term and long term goals
2. Make goals explicit
3. Make them realistic and reachable
4. Reward yourself

Overtraining occurs when performance in athletics or training programs remains constant or starts to decline.  Usually overtraining occurs by poor program design or lack of adequate rest.  Here are some signs of overtraining:
1. loss of body weight
2. decreased appetite
3. muscle soreness that does not go away even after rest
4. increased illness such as colds or flu
5. constipation or diarrhea
6. decreased performance
7. lack of desire in training or competition

Adjusting Your Schedule:
You will need to adjust your training program as your fitness improves.  At first slightly increase the distance that you ski, then add intensity to the workouts.  As you improve you can alternate your intervals or just increase the duration of each interval.  Another suggestion is instead of changing your program you can also try it on new trails.

If you find yourself tired after a workout consider taking a day off or taking it light the next day.  Be sure to pay attention to the messages your body gives you so you don't overtrain.

Learn your strengths and weaknesses and try to improve your weakness.  If you learn that you have trouble with hills use a few days of just practicing on hills, or if you feel your upper body isn't doing enough work adjust your program and add some exercises that will strengthen our upper body.

Self Tests or Time Trials:
Periodic trials, and mock races against your previous times are great ways to challenge yourself and see your improvements.  It can even let you know if you are overtraining.  If you join a club you can compare your times to friends and get an idea of how you are improving and how to adjust your program if you are unhappy with your results.  If you go into competition it is also a good way to prepare for races and easy competition anxiety by using the rule of specificity.

The Yearly Program:
If you have competition in mind the yearly program is the best way to prepare.  The yearly program is broken down into four different periods each with different goals.  They are the:
1. Recovery period.  This may last from one to one and a half months after the competitive season.
2. Basic endurance period.  This is a three to four month period during the off season to work on technique strength but mainly to increase your endurance.
3. Speed endurance period. This is a three to four month preseason tune up before the competition season starts.  This period focuses on racing, and improving your anaerobic threshold, training for speed and using intervals followed by recovery days.
4. Competition.  This is a two to three month period of reduced training.  This is the time to go fast during races and very slow the rest of your training and skiing.

Sticking to Your Program:
To avoid quitting here are some ideas:
1. Schedule your training time at the beginning of each week.
2. Make training a routine that you are comfortable with.
3. Become part of a club or program.
4. Train with others who have similar goals.
5. Train at a level that is comfortable to you.
6. Be sure your family and friends understand your goals and support you.
7. Find times for exercise that are convenient for you and your family.
8. Get used to training in bad weather or train indoors.
9. Keep your schedule varied.
10. Set goals for training duration and distances.
11. Update your goals each time you get close to reaching your current goals.

Staying Motivated:
"A positive outlook breeds positive results".  By staying at it and keeping a positive outlook to exercising considerable payoffs will lie ahead.  People who exercise regularly list among their motivations not only health and fitness, but also looks better, social interaction, and plain ol' fun.  There are even psychological benefits like an increase in confidence and self esteem, and relief from depression, anxiety and stress.

Some ways to stay motivated is by setting new goals, making the exercise more fun, and spice it up with a little variety.   If the exercise is getting tedious mix up the frequency, the intensity and time you work out.  Try doing different sports and learning new activities it will make you enjoy and appreciate your regular workouts.  Also expect slumps they happen to everyone and schedule your workouts the same time every week.  This routine will become a fixture in your life and you wont want to miss it.