Training process design options in elite sprint skiing

PhD A.I. Golovachev1
PhD V.I. Kolykhmatov1
PhD S.V. Shirokova1
PhD E.A. Gorbunova1
1Russian Federal Scientific Center of Physical Culture and Sports (VNIIFK), Moscow

Keywords: cross-country skiing, sprint, elite cross-country skiers, training process, competitive performance, controlled muscular loads.Background. The growing global competitiveness of the modern skiing sport and the current domination of the skiers from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Canada and the US in the finals, on the one hand; and the growing number of the individual and team medals in the Olympic Games (8 medals in 2 sprint events making up 28.8% of the total medal stock in the Olympic skiing sport), on the other hand; plus the recent generation gap in the Russian national team – urge the national sport community to explore new ways to step up the competitive performance using the modern and most efficient training models and tools for success of the national skiing elite.

Multiannual studies by the Cyclic Olympic Sports Center of the Russian Federal Scientific Center of Physical Culture and Sports (VNIIFK) under the focused research project in 2013-2017 helped improve the training systems applied by elite ski sprinters to step up their competitive performance by a set of customizable special training tools geared to develop and activate every energy generation mechanism (oxidizing, lactate and phosphate) to improve the physical qualities.

It is common knowledge that the modern ski sprint competitions require the athlete being highly fit for repeated 2.5-4-minute sub-maximal-intensity physical loads on 1000-1800m distances i.e. being able to fully mobilize the oxidizing and lactate bodily energy production systems [1, 3, 6]. This is one of the reasons why the modern developmental and conditioning training micro-cycles are designed based on the customizable controlled muscular loads with the work phases varied in time from the short- (12-15s to 2min) to long-term (4-5 to 7-8min) ones, and with the intensities varied from the anaerobic threshold (with the HR increased by +3-5 beats per min) to the individual maximum.

Objective of the study was to analyze the training process design options for different elite sprint skiing events, with a special emphasis on the customizable controlled muscular loads for competitive success.

Methods and structure of the study. Experiments under the study were run in the sprinters’ regular training process. Sampled for the study were the 24-29 year-old elite sprinters (n=7) with a practical competitive experience gained in the 2013-2017 World Championships and 2010-2014 Olympic Games, who were also qualified and were trained for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. The annual training cycle of the sample was modified to include a variety of customizable controlled muscular loads.

We applied for the purposes of the study a variety of traditional educational tools and medical/ biological progress test methods with a special priority to the training process and competitive performance tests [2]. The customizable controlled muscular loads with the relevant intensities were rated in the training and competitive process by Polar and Garmin (Finland- and US-made, respectively) Sport Tester units, with the test data processed by the standard mathematical statistic toolkit.

Results and discussion. The competitive performance of the sample was analyzed using more than 200 records of the national and international skiing events with 150 cardiovascular system performance records (heart rate profiles) collected for the period of 2013 through 2017 [1-5]. The current and retrospective data arrays and analyses helped find the general and specific logics in the key components of the ski sprinters’ competitive performance in the classic-stride and skate-stride (freestyle) sprint events. The key findings were as follows:

– In the classic-stride competitions, the sample was tested with sagging average speed associated with the growing cardiovascular system performance intensity and load in Zones III and IV of the same individual sprint event (both qualification and final) – due to the growing fatigue as a result of the too short rest time between the starts, insufficient for full rehabilitation;

– In the skate-stride competitions, the sample was tested with stable or even occasionally growing average speeds associated with the cardiovascular system performance intensity and load in Zones III and IV.

The above differences in the tested bodily system performance rates in the classical-stride versus skate-stride events may be explained by the distance profiles and specifics, since the skate-stride distances are more often than not less difficult than the classical ones and, hence, the skiers’ movements are more fluent and effective. In addition, it is no less important that (as we found), qualified for the finals are mostly the athletes with the highest performance and endurances rates still having some resource for the finals – in contrast to those who fully drain their resource in the qualification events [1, 4, 5]. The study data and findings provided us with the theoretical grounds for the annual training process design based on the customizable controlled muscular loads.

Having analyzed the versions and contents of the new training system, we found that the elite sprinters’ total annual cyclic load averaged 6954 km – in contrast to the commonly accepted one [1, 3] – due to the customizable controlled muscular loads application for the whole annual training cycle. Thus from the very start of the preparatory period in May, the volume of the developmental work in Zone III amounted to 9.5% of the total annual cyclic load followed by growth to 17.4% in June and 19.6% in August: see Figure hereunder.

In the competitive period, the training load in Zone III was tested to grow by 12.1% and 12.4% of the total annual cyclic load in December and March, respectively; that is explainable by the insufficient competitive oads and effects of the compensatory mechanisms on the bodily energy generation systems. It should be also noted that the total annual cyclic load distribution by intensity zones of the customizable controlled muscular loads-based training period was balanced enough with the Zones I-II to Zones III-IV ratio estimated at 80:20 [3], with the specific Zone loads making up 56.8% (I), 29.4% (II), 12.0% (III) and 1.9% (IV) of the total annual cyclic load. Therefore, the high-intensity muscular workloads (Zones III and IV) amounted to only 13.9% of the total annual cyclic load.

On the whole, the sample completed 73 customizable controlled muscular loads for the test period, with 43 customizable controlled muscular loads (53.4%) taking 2 to 7-8min (relatively long customizable controlled muscular loads) with the HR growing by 3-5 beats per min and reaching the maximum by the end of the last repetition; and 35 customizable controlled muscular loads (46.6%) taking 12-15s i.e. relatively short high-intensity customizable controlled muscular loads geared to activate the creatine-phosphate energy generation mechanism. It was further found that the relatively long customizable controlled muscular loads could be classified versus the work phase times as follows: 2-min customizable controlled muscular loads (34.2%); 4-min customizable controlled muscular loads (13.7%) and 7-8-min customizable controlled muscular loads (5.5%).

The customizable controlled muscular loads was timed as required by the desired effects on the bodily energy generation mechanisms to efficiently mobilize the best physical qualities; and, therefore, the relatively short-phase customizable controlled muscular loads (intended to build up the speed qualities) were dominant over the relatively long-phase endurance-building customizable controlled muscular loads.

In the preparatory period, the customizable controlled muscular loads distribution pattern was designed to increase both the exercises (from 3 in May to 13 in October) and the training process intensity: see Figure 1.

Figure 1. Distribution of the controlled muscular loads over the annual training cycle

customizable controlled muscular loads

May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb March April

In the competitive period, the customizable controlled muscular loads were limited by 5 at most to maintain the minimal necessary developmental and conditioning load in between the competitive events.

Conclusion. The study data and analyses showed benefits of the customizable controlled muscular loads based training system, with the repeated customizable controlled muscular loads times varying within the range of 12-15s to 7-8min. 50-55% of the training process loads is recommended for the endurance-building repeated customizable controlled muscular loads taking above 2 min (2 to 4-5 to 7-8 min); with 45% of the total load assigned to the relatively short (12-15s) speed-strength customizable controlled muscular loads.

References

  1. Golovachev A.I., Kolykhmatov V.I., Shirokova S.V. Dinamika intensivnosti sorevnovatelnoy deyatelnosti vysokokvalifitsirovannykh lyzhnikov-gonshchikov v zabegakh klassicheskogo i konkovogo sprinta [Dynamics of intensity of competitive activity of elite cross-country skiers in classical and skate sprint races]. Aktualnye problemy sportivnoy nauki, Moscow, 2017, pp. 55-71.
  2. Golovachev A.I., Kolykhmatov V.I., Shirokova S.V. Osobennosti sorevnovatelnoy deyatelnosti v sprinterskikh gonkakh na lyzhnykh trassakh zimnikh Olimpiyskikh igr 2018 goda v Phenchhane (Respublika Koreya) [Specifics of competitive activity in sprint races on 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (Republic of Korea)]. Uchenye zapiski un-ta im. P.F. Lesgafta, 2017, no. 9 (151), pp. 48-55.
  3. Golovachev A.I., Kolykhmatov V.I., Shirokova S.V. Postroenie trenirovochnogo protsessa vysokokvalifitsirovannykh lyzhnikov-sprinterov na zaklyuchitelnom etape podgotovki k krupneyshim sorevnovaniyam [Training process design at final pre-season stage in elite cross-country skiing]. Vestnik sportivnoy nauki. Moscow, 2017, no. 4, pp. 3-8.
  4. Kolykhmatov V.I. Razvitie spetsialnoy vynoslivosti vyisokokvalifitsirovannykh lyzhnikov-gonshchikov, spetsializiruyushchikhsya v sprinterskikh vidakh gonok, v godichnom tsikle podgotovki [Building special endurance in elite sprint cross-country skiers in annual training cycle]. PhD diss.. Moscow, 2014, 228 p.
  5. Kolykhmatov V.I., Golovachev A.I., Shirokova S.V. Osobennosti sorevnovatelnoy deyatelnosti lyzhnikov-gonshchikov vysokoy kvalifikatsii v komandnom sprinte [Features of competitive activity of highliy skilled cross-country skiers in team sprint]. Uchenye zapiski un-ta im. P.F.  Lesgafta. St. Petersburg, 2015, no. 7 (125), pp. 94-100.

Corresponding author: info@vniifk.ru

Abstract

The study analyzes the training process design options for elite ski sprint, with a special emphasis on the customizable controlled muscular loads that are demonstrated to be of the highest positive effect on the key bodily energy generation systems in competitive process. Experimental work under the study was run in the sprinters’ regular training process. Sampled for the study were the 24-29 year-old elite sprinters (n=7) with a practical competitive experience gained in the 2013-2017 World Championships and 2010-2014 Olympic Games, who were also qualified and trained for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. The sample annual training cycle was modified to include a variety of categorical customizable controlled muscular loads. The study data and analyses showed that the 4-5 to 7-8 ms customizable controlled muscular loads with intensities above the anaerobic threshold and accelerations in the finishing stage are of the highest training effect on the oxidizing/ lactate energy generation system functionalities.