Climbing ladders

Week 4 –


Olympic rings over the stadium in Whistler, Team Hardwood athletes watching the races (2013)

Already going to break the template of Thought/Talking Point + Workout for the weekly blog. I ended up having a lot more to talk about for the workout I chose, and thought I’d expand it to be it’s own post. Keeping these posts short is important, just a few key ideas so they aren’t overwhelming or boring.


I had 6 different coaches during a span of 4 years as a junior. It was a weird period of switching clubs, Team Hardwood evolving, and then moving to the training centre. In grade 12, as a second year Junior Girl (U18), Jack Sasseville coached me through the fall and 2013 race season. It was my second year of deliberate training, 639 hours, and I think I improved more that season than any other year.

The training program was Lydiard inspired and I did quite a lot of short hard intensities and time trials during prep for major races. Or at least, it was always planned to….

That year, Nationals was slated to start on March 23rd, and on March 14th I got a sick. There were several days where I had to scrap the plan and just did short easy skis until my symptoms cleared up on the 18th. And then I promptly cranked a 20minute TT that day 😅. An anxious decision, to be sure.

Felt pretty healthy today, no more sore throat so I figured I’d do a short TT to try and remind myself how to race. The timetrial was alright, I felt pretty flat and not very energetic, but physically okay. Mentally, not so great. I think being unwell the past few days was more mentally exhausting than physically because I was so stressed and frustrated about the whole sore throat thing.

It’s funny to read now, because I still remember the exact feeling. Being sick is such a head game. I do think the best way to kick a cold is to blow it out with intensity, but of course it depends what kind of sickness you’re fighting. 10/10 don’t recommend 10/10 times.

Anway, this is a photo of my training plan for the two weeks prior to Nationals in Whistler. This is one of my favourite plans ever. I kept it, along with a bunch of other hastily hand-written programs from Jack that year.


2013 Nationals two-ish week taper. I won my first two National titles in Whistler, and started to believe I had a shot at the skiing thing.

See how it’s just a template? Of course, we had talked about what types of intervals I should be doing at this time of year (specific TT’s and Z4), but it was down to me to decide what would work best when the time came.

Empowering young athletes to make decisions and be involved in their training is so important to developing training intelligence and self-awareness. If an athlete really cares and wants to grow into the sport, they’ll appreciate the opportunity to be part of the process and not just product of a program. Everyone gets better when information, inquisitions, and ideas go both ways.

Now, the workout I actually wanted to share…

Daws Ladder – 12 March 2013

Short Z4 ladder intervals (Z4 on the skier training intensity scale). Rest also pretty short, total interval + recovery time was about 45 minutes, and the entire session 1.5hours.

The intervals initially feel easy because the rest is long compared to the work, but it catches up to you. Generally recommend a flat to steady uphill section where you can go hard and fast without being overly taxed technically. It sort of fits in as max-aerobic work, but what’s most important as a skier is being able to still move fast in the second half of the workout – on the way back down the ladder.

30- 30- 60- 60- 90- 90- 2- 2- 3- 3- 2- 2- 90- 90- 60- 60- 30- 30 @ 5km race pace (hard, Z4 skiing)
Rest after 30s up to 90s intervals was 2 minutes, and 3 minutes after the 2min and 3min intervals, if I remember correctly.

Daws ladder workout. I think I lost track of time on a couple of the intervals because the final time was longer than usual… Felt okay, not super hot though


Thanks for reading.
Feedback, questions, thoughts, comments… I can keep fuelling these posts on my own, but giving you, the reader, content and topics your’e interested is what will keep this going in the long run.

It’s better when ideas go both ways.

Next post Tuesday.


2 thoughts on “Climbing ladders

  1. Hi Jen, good post – thanks. When you get sick, rest is pretty important for fast recovery, however, I agree with you, in some cases having some good workouts helps clear the lungs and generally feel better. I am curious to hear about how rest and sleep fit into your training plans. I have never been on a regimented training plan so I do it all by feel, including resting practices.. Do you any special tips or rituals for resting?

    • Hey Eric!

      Rest is all relative – reducing the amount of stress your body is under so it can bounce back. As a “full time” athlete, cutting volume down and dropping overall intensity for a couple days is usually enough to fend off a sore throat or sniffly nose, but there often comes a point where you have to actively DO something…. In general though, getting outside for fresh air can make a huge difference to staying inside, especially in the winter when the air is stale in buildings. Being able to move gently is often better than complete bedrest.

      Rest and recovery tips… What immediately jumps to mind is reducing screen and technology time. This can help create more time to rest and make it much higher quality. Limiting (ideally eliminating) screen time in the evenings, will improve your sleep at night (there is science for this). Planning blocks of time to catch up on social media/personal emails rather than idly scrolling at all times will free up not only time that can be used for napping, stretching, meal prep etc…, but also help you be more deliberate and focussed during the day.

      Will definitely put some more specific rest and recovery posts in the queue!

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