How pro-skier Alayna Sonnesyn is changing up her summer training plan
This summer has brought more racing than usual for a cross-country skier! It is an intentional goal as I focus on building my aerobic capacity to carry this fitness into the fall and winter. Last season, I faced a busier race schedule and ended up feeling really tired by mid-season. I know that if I want to keep up with that race schedule, then I need to have a larger fitness base.
Fortunately, for me, there is no shortage of summertime racing. I started June off with two uphill running races: Ascutney Mountain Run and Race the Cog. Both started at the base of a mountain and ascended into the clouds with gusty and wet conditions at the summit. No views at the top, but it still felt good to get it done.
Later in the month, Stratton Mountain School hosted the Eastern Regional Elite Group camp. 40+ of the top junior racers came together to learn from each other and hop in workouts with our elite team.
We partnered with the juniors to do a roller ski sprint simulation. On a closed road, we did a sprint qualifier followed by three rounds of heats. These were a fun way to work on tactics in a group and practice going around some technical turns at a high speed.
We faced hot conditions the entire time. Add in the high humidity, and it felt like we were sprinting inside a Ziploc bag.
Despite the conditions, it was so fun to jump in with the junior racers. They had an impressive amount of speed and pop in their legs. I still distinctly recall attending the Midwest REG camp as a 15-year-old and getting to ski behind Jessie Diggins – looking up to her, learning from her, and feeling inspired by her to work hard and chase my dreams. It’s wild to think that 12 years later I am now her teammate and close friend. I hope the time we had with the juniors will impart both knowledge and inspiration. I'm really looking forward to a future full of ski racing from them.
It’s been a busier summer of racing for me than I would have anticipated, but I have been enjoying the work! I think it's been great to focus on this aerobic fitness through racing, but I'm also ready to take a break to focus on specific ski interval workouts. Excited to keep getting after it!