Summer Training

Posted by Tony Mommsen on Jun 9th 2015


With training hints from Matt Liebsch

Tony Mommsen Skiing across a bridgeMy goal is to qualify for Wave One of the American Birkebeiner. For me, this is an ambitious goal. Speed (or endurance) have never been my strong suite. For as long as remember Wave Three has been my comfortable home. Each year, in the fall, I announce "This is my breakout year!". Each winter I find myself even more laid-back than the year before. And each year I am less prepared for the Birkie. The races have taken about the same amount of time, but my suffering has increased. During a 42k Classic Vasaloppet, not long ago, I found myself in an exhausted haze with about 10k to go. "Tony, are you going to be okay?" I heard, my wife, Kathy ask, as she skied passed. A young volunteer at the finish had to help me remove my skis and Kathy had to drive us home, with me and my cramping legs occupying the passenger seat.

Over the last couple years, my situation has gotten worse.  In 2013, I finished the Birkie Classic 4:34. Six minutes shy of a Wave Two qualifier, 36 minutes from making Wave One. The week before the 2014 Birkie, I slipped on some ice, broke a rib, and was not able to race. 2015, I switched registration to the Skate Korte (I was concerned about heel pain I had been suffering most of the winter.). The night before I panicked and decided to use the classic technique, even though I started in the Korte skate wave. -- I'm not always smart. After that debacle, I finished with a time qualifying me for Wave 4. This downward trend is my wake-up call. As I move into my late 50s I want to be able to ski more - suffer less. It's time for a change.

The Right Place
For the last couple years, I've worked at Gear West. There is no question I should be getting faster, simply by osmosis. Every day I am surrounded by people who know skis, know skiing and know how to ski really fast. Birkie Champs, wax technicians - bar-none, ski flex experts, fitness aficionados, all the resources I need to ski a little faster and enjoy skiing a lot more. Not only am I surrounded by experts, they are all supportive of anyone who wishes to get better and learn more. Lynne the Birkie Champ is already encouraging me "Tony, get your butt out there and roller ski!"

June Time is Start Time
I am now taking the old adage seriously "Skiers are made in the summer".  I asked Matt Liebsch what a middle-of-the-pack skier should be doing for training in June. I am using his advice (below) as a starting point for my summer training plan.


June training advice for master skiers

Strength:   This is important all times of the year.  There are some very good studies backing up the benefits of resistance training from a hormonal response and also a general health standpoint.   The benefits of strength for a skier are clear.  Try double poling for any duration at a strong pace and you will feel the need to be strong.  Once per week resistance training is a good goal. Summertime is a great time to work on general strength.  Sit-ups, pushups, dips, pull-ups are all skier favorites along with some leg plyos.   Add weight as the level of general strength comes up.

Endurance:  It’s important to get one longer over distance workout every 7-10days.  It does not have to be on roller skis.  Bike, run, paddle… all are good.  Even a combo workout is great.  The goal is to train the body to burn fat as an energy source.

Intensity:  I like to focus on longer intervals to start the year.  Lv3 type work.  3 by 10min or 4 by 8min… anything that gives 30+ minutes of “on-time”

Specific: It never hurts to start working on specific strength.  It can be a short high-quality workout like double-pole for 40min+ or skate no poles. Later I like to up the intensity by doing specific strength up-hill.


Four Factors
Listed below are the four reasons I don’t ever get any faster. So, I just need to gain ten minutes for each of these factors and I will move nicely into Wave One. Problem solved.

  1. Not too strong

  2. Overweight - who knows how much

  3. Some major technique shortcomings

  4. Short on endurance

I will be writing about my Wave One Project in the Gear West blog. Frequently. If you don't hear from me, give the store a call and ask "Where is Tony's update? Did he already quit the project? He needs to be held accountable!"

- Tony

-Posted by Tony Mommsen on Jun 9th 2015