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Big Weeks 101

Posted by Andy Newell courtesy of Nordic Team Solutions on Aug 5th 2020

Big Weeks 101

Mid-Summer is the season for big volume training weeks. Most skiers have gradually built their training base for the past 12 weeks and will now schedule a few higher volume weeks before decreasing hours in the late Summer and Fall. Big weeks will very in hours depending on a skier's ability, age, and training history but will all encompass similar principles.

Our goal with a big week is to elicit a training response by stressing the body with a new level of volume. This means focusing on lots of easy distance L1 training, just at a higher quantity than previous training weeks. It's important to remember that it's ok to fatigue the body a little bit but definitely not over-train or over-reach so much that we can't bounce back after a few recovery days. This is why it's important to know your limits during a big week and not try to plan or bite off more that you can chew, especially early in the week. (A general guideline I like to use is for athletes to increase their training 2-4 hours more during a big volume week than any week they have trained so far this year)

General Planning Guidelines for Big Weeks

When possible, we want to plan our big volume weeks either after a period of rest or directly after a high intensity training. (avoid planning a volume week followed by high intensity)

The periodization of a big week is no different than a typical training week. Try to schedule quality sessions such as speed or intervals near the first half of the week when the body is less fatigued.

Logging additional training hours than normal will require more over-distance workout and more two-a-days. For elite level skiers this means several workouts in the 3+ hour range. During big weeks it can be a good strategy to increase your typical volume during afternoon session. So instead of a typical 1-hour afternoon run, try to boost it up to 2 hours. This adds a new stress to the body. I recommend still having a very short afternoon session or an off afternoon leading up to interval days.

Alternating upper-body workouts and lower-body workouts can help the body stay fresh. After a big leg day such as an OD run or skating intervals try to schedule a double-pole only workout.

Get out the door early. It can be hot this time of year and getting as much recovery time between these long workouts is important. As a general training rule, we try to have at least 4 hours between morning and afternoon training sessions which can require waking up early to start the first session.

Loop after loop on the same road can get tedious during a 24-hour week. Take the time to plan ahead and work out some logistics for point to point runs and rollerskis. Organize a car shuttle, add in some combi workouts, trying to keep sessions new and exciting will make it easier to log several over distance sessions.

General Recovery Guidelines

Personally, I still like to keep one full off-day within a 7-day block even during a big week. However, this means more hours might need to be stacked on single days. For some elite skiers this means working up to some epic 5-hour days (3 hours in the morning 2 hours in the afternoon on some days, or one mega OD). This is not for everybody, and training at this volume should be taken seriously. Training at this volume is a full-time job with lots of time spent out on the road/trails and the rest of your hours spent focusing on recovery and refueling.

I try to remind athletes that we never want to sacrifice quality for quantity. If you are tired enough that you are just plotting along either running or skiing, your workout should have been over long ago. Try not to sacrifice quality movement in order to achieve extra hours.

The US Ski Team once had a nutritionist who liked to say "Eat to train, do not train to eat". This means recognizing the nutritional demands of each day's sessions beforehand and not letting the body deplete its energy stores early on in the week. This means eating multiple times per day and always carrying some calories during workouts either in food or drink form. It's important that we train our bodies to feed during exercises and big training weeks with several over distance days are a great way to do that. It might be totally normal for you to run for 2 hours without carrying sports drink, but during a big week this might be inadequate, think about the weekly schedule as a whole and make smart fueling decisions on a daily basis.

Nobody wants to come home in the evening after a long training day and spend a lot of time in the kitchen. If you have a big week coming up do some meal planning beforehand and try to make a bunch of dinners before the week starts.

Getting your feet up during a big week is important, and this doesn't mean sitting at the computer and crushing emails. Try to get off your feet during the middle of the day and in the evenings as much as possible. Laying down for an hour during the middle of the day is a good habit to get in to even of you are not napping.

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