Balancing Work, Family and Training as a Master Skier

Kim and Craig Rudd classic skiing in beautiful Stowe, Vermont

 Over the last thirty years of training for ski marathons, I have learned some helpful lessons that have made me become a stronger ski competitor. Most of these lessons were pretty painful at the time, but they have allowed me to become healthier in all areas of my life.

Lesson # 1: Eliminate “junk” ski training 

Kim Rudd with the BSU Alumni ski team members at Movil Maze trail in Bemidji

 My collegiate racing career from 1989 – 1992 was cut short by one year when Bemidji State University suddenly cut the Nordic Ski Team. The following year the remaining skiers decided to continue racing as a club but rather than the shorter five to fifteen kilometer races we decided to register for the 1993 Mora Vasaloppet 58 km skate marathon. I had already completed the Duluth Grandma’s running marathon so I figured it would be a similar challenge. The experience of skiing in a long draft pack, consuming blueberry soup and finishing on the snow covered street going into downtown Mora, I was hooked!

      Following undergraduate school I started racing in local ski marathons around the Midwest. During this time I was balancing a part-time job along with obtaining my Masters Degree. Being new to the marathon scene, I had no clue how physically demanding it would be to train, compete and recover from thirty to fifty kilometer race events. Logging in long over distance workout sessions was not an option, so my average workout was around an hour. 

     Looking back now, many of the workouts would be considered by coaches as “junk training”. The training sessions were mostly performed at my level two pace which was not slow enough for easy days and not fast enough for interval days. The result was slow racing and multiple times hitting the “wall”, where I was being passed by skiers twice my age. Lesson learned: Eliminate all “junk” training from your workout plan.

Kim Rudd trail running in Montana with her girls Hannah and Leah

Lesson # 2: Include at least one or two over-distance easy workout sessions per week

At the age of twenty-eight my husband and I had our first daughter. Training became even more of a challenge but I was highly motivated to get out and ski to have a much needed mom break. I am not a fan of skiing in the dark, so Craig built me a do-it-yourselfer ski pulk made of a sled, a plastic shield and a thermarest pad. 

     Soon I was able to ski two to three hour training   sessions during my daughter’s midday naps. All the uphill ski pulk training along with the easy lake workouts ( back then they did not have  man-made snow making so lakes were very popular early season for training) paid off at the Birkie where I placed 11th (one of my best Skate Birkie results to this day).  Lesson learned: Include at least one or two over distance easy level one workout sessions per week in order to prepare your body for the physical demands of ski marathons.

Lesson # 3: Follow a training plan!

The faster Birkie result motivated me to start training smarter. Life was very busy as a young married couple as we juggled the demands of work and parenting. At the performance peak age of thirty we had our second daughter, Leah. Gone were the days of ski pulk training since my other daughter, Hannah, was almost three years old. My time was limited and I needed a more structured training plan to improve my race performance.

      During this time I was on the Rossignol marathon racing team which included around thirty athletes from all over the nation. Jim Fredericks, the Rossignol race director at that time, recommended I start reading a book called “Serious Training for the Endurance Athletes”. I created my own training plan that included intervals, strength, over distance workouts and recovery days.

     Each month of training was planned around the race season of January through February ski marathons. May through July was focused on easy level one distance sessions along with strength training two to three times a week. I  Incorporated long trail runs and rollerski sessions  to build up the aerobic capacity that is needed for marathon racing. Strength has been my least favorite part of training, since I prefer to be outside rather than stuck inside a stuffy gym.  I would often bring the kids to the park to play while at the same time performing my strength workouts. The kids would sometimes join in the fun! I mostly did body weight training at local parks that included pull-ups, push-ups, dips, lunges, step ups, box jumps, squats and a variety of plyometric and core exercises. 

Prerace gathering before the Norwegian Birken Race Start!

     I also incorporated lots of distance road and mountain biking which is my second passion next to skiing. I would often substitute roller skiing  with cycling, swimming or canoeing on those hot and humid Minnesota summer days. Starting from July through August I would keep my interval training in the level three zone (marathon pace).These sustained intervals of eight to fifteen minutes in length trained my muscles to sustain a marathon race pace.  Late August through December I would add an additional level four ( 5-10 km race pace) interval session to my training plan.

      In between the interval days it was very important to keep my heart rate at a level one ( easy talking pace) so that my body could recover for the next interval workout. Each week of the month would look different depending on the particular focus. Some weeks were high volume followed by a recovery rest week. Other weeks were high intensity sprinkled with specific strength or speed workouts. Overall having this year-round training plan helped me reach the next level of racing performance. Lesson learned: have a training plan!

Lesson # 4: Rest and recovery is part of training

Kim Rudd resting after her six hour Dakota 50 mountain bike race

 I have a type A driven personality and really enjoy having a structured training plan to follow. Sometimes I would get too caught up in the plan and forget to listen to my body when I really needed to rest. My tendency to overtrain in addition to the stress of parenting and working almost always led to illness and poor performance. The demands of motherhood, work, social life and training soon took a toll on my body. Each of our  bodies have our own limits of how much activity and stressors we can handle while also staying healthy. I soon learned the importance of rest days and watching my resting heart rate each morning to detect if my body needed a few more days off before jumping into the next interval workout. Sometimes I would need to say no to a really fun event in order to have more energy for the upcoming race.

Kim coaching her two daughters Hannah and Leah Rudd at Armstrong

     During this time I started coaching my daughter’s high school Nordic Ski team along with working full-time at the Loppet Foundation as the Director of the TRAIL KIDS program. Some days I would get up early to do my own interval workout before I coached an adult women’s ski session in the morning. Following this I would head over to coach at the high school in the afternoon and end my day back on my skis coaching the evening TRAIL KIDS session under the lights at Wirth. By the end of the day I was completely exhausted. I do not recommend this for anyone who wants to perform at a high level in marathon races! Learning to rest your body more during demanding days is very important. Schedule your intervals or long distance workouts on days you can be off of your feet and truly recover. Lesson learned once again: Make rest and recovery part of your weekly training plan.

Lesson # 5: Join a training group.

Kim coaching the Women’s LNR Training Session at Wirth Park

Back in the early to late 90’s there were not many formal adult training groups available in the Twin Cities. In 2004 I joined Piotr Bednarski’s “Go Training” program. Each week he would send out a specific training plan that also included technique tips. Master skiers of a wide range in age would gather early in the morning for interval workouts at Hyland downhill ski area ( again not as many snow making venues back then). We would do killer hill repeats up and down the steep terrain. Coach Piotr would video our technique and review it with us on the trail so we could make instant changes. I remember how embarrassing it was on the first group rollerski session to discover that I could not keep up with the other skiers in the double pole hill repeats. Coach Piotr changed my entire double pole to become more powerful by engaging my core and lat muscles. 

     Through video critique and lots of technique coaching I was able to improve my double pole which soon translated into fast and efficient skate V2 and classic double pole skiing. I am wired as an introvert, so joining a group sounded pretty intimidating at first. I eventually found out that training weekly with a group of like minded adults provided both motivation and lifelong friends to race and train with each weekend. 

     For the last twenty years I have been coaching a women’s adult master ski group through the Loppet Foundation. These women have become much faster skiers, but more importantly have a group of lifelong friends to ski and travel with on a regular basis. I encourage you to find a local ski club, coached training group or form a group of friends to train with on a regular basis. Having friends push you to be a better skier on those tough below zero training days is a must!

     I hope these lessons were helpful to you as you balance both work, family and play! Good luck to you in your upcoming ski races.

Kim Rudd

Kim Rudd ski training in Drammen, Norway

 Kim is the founder and owner of Endurance Adventures, LLC. Endurance Adventures offers both cross-country ski and mountain bike group trips for adults of all athletic abilities to some of the most stunning ski and bike trail systems around the world. Trip leaders plan out all the details so you can enjoy more time on the trails and relax with your friends while eating top notch meals together.

Check out the upcoming 2022/23 Ski Trips at www.enduradv.com. Kim has enjoyed racing for Team Rossignol for the past thirty years in various ski marathons around the Midwest and internationally. She also enjoys mountain biking and canoe/SUP adventures along with coaching youth and adults at the Loppet Foundation.  Kim is certified as a level 200 BICP coach along with Level 200 USSA Nordic coach. She is excited to share her passion for travel, cycling and Nordic skiing with other like minded people!

Bozeman Adventures and Bruises

Kim Rudd with her daughter Hannah enjoying the Lupine flowers on a trail run.

Recently my husband and I visited our two daughters who live in Bozeman, Montana. The town of Bozeman is a gateway to endless outdoor adventures with trails, mountains, rivers and lakes just minutes from your doorstep. To jumpstart our trip my eldest daughter Hannah, Craig and myself enjoyed a trail run at Middle Cottonwood trail located just fifteen minutes from Bozeman. The trail hugs a stream surrounded by bluebell wild flowers. Bridge crossings over the stream and the sound of water rushing through the rocks was soothing to the soul.

Leah Rudd riding the Bangtail Divide Trail

Our next adventure was mountain biking with our youngest daughter Leah on the Bangtail Divide trail which overlooks the Bridger Ridge Ski Area. The ride starts at Stone Creek road and quickly gets your heartrate up with miles of steep switchbacks. Purple lupine, sun flowers, Black-eyed Susan, Canola, wild roses, lily’s, bluebells and a mirage of other wild flowers gave the illusion of riding through a rainbow painted canvas. Needless to say Leah and I stopped to take photo shoots and to drink up the sweet aroma of the endless wild flowers.

Craig, Kim and Leah Rudd

Descending the final ten miles included majestic views of the mountain ranges below along with many pit stops to catch our breath and rest our hands from braking. We crossed paths with a few dirt bikes that also share the trail.

Bracket Creek Trailhead concluded the single track portion of our ride, but we still had ten miles left on the paved Bridger Canyon road to make a full thirty mile loop back to our parked car. All three of us were completely out of water, but thankfully the ride back was mostly a downhill rollercoaster ride.

Craig, Hannah, Leah and Kim Rudd at Pine Creek Lake

Day three included more adventures with both of our girls in the area of Paradise Valley. We hiked eleven miles to Pine Creek Lake which had a 3600 feet elevation gain. Usually I jump into all mountain lakes but this lake just had the ice go off the day prior so I decided to sit this one out. Leah and a few of her friends were both shocked and invigorated after taking the plunge into the frigid lake. The decent down took my husband and I quite a bit longer than our fast and agile daughters. The younger me would have flown down that single track, but the older me was more sensible.

View from above Mystic lake with Lupine

The following day Craig and I went on a mountain bike ride up the Sourdough Canyon which starts just a few miles out of Bozeman. We met a nice couple at the trailhead who were getting all their bike packing gear ready for their annual ride up to the Mystic lake cabin where they would celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

Bear Grass growing in the forest near Mystic lake

When we arrived at Mystic lake I decided to take a quick skinny dip which refreshed me for the remainder of the ride. The single track trail around Mystic lake was filled with wild Lupine overlooking the mountain lake. We also had the pleasure of seeing Bear Grass grown in the thick shaded woods. It left like riding through a Dr. Seuss storybook filled with giant fluffy white flowers.

I was in a delightful mood as we started to make our descent on the single track trail called the “Wall of Death”. Pure bliss came to a sudden halt as my tire slid off the narrow path and I found myself flat on my face. Blood was gushing as I raised my head. I was in quite a bit of pain but had to continue on down the trail to get to our car. Later we discovered that my shoe cleat was loose so it was not allowing me to unclip properly from my bike pedal ( lesson learned to always check your bike cleats )!

Heather Lake, 9,000 feet of elevation

I was pretty beat up the next day with a swollen nose, chin and lip, but I could not resist going on another mountain adventure. We drove up to Hyalite Canyon to the trailhead of Emerald and Heather lake. It had been a cold snowy spring in Bozeman so there was still snow up at 9,000 feet. I took a dip in Heather lake and enjoyed a pastry from Wild Crumb Bakery (best bakery in Bozeman). We enjoyed watching small stream trout swim up the shallow creek that runs into the lake and watched the anglers fly fishing.

Painted Hill Trail (Bozeman’s town trail system)

The last day we mountain biked on the town trails that included Hyland Glen, Painted Hills and Triple Tree trail system. We enjoyed our time with the girls and left feeling full in spirit from all of our conversations and adventures together. I came home a bit bruised and a deflated ego from my mountain bike crash, but in the end I would do it all over again! Perhaps this could be a future destination for another Endurance Adventures Trip!

Kim Rudd, Endurance Adventures Owner

Kim Rudd playing in the snow at 9,000 feet elevation near Emerald Lake, Montana

Endurance Adventures Free Pole Hike/Bounding Clinic: Thursday, July 21

Come join Olympian Brian Gregg and Kim Rudd for a free classic ski pole hike and bounding workout and learn about Endurance Adventures upcoming trips!

Olympian Brian and Caitlin Gregg ski bounding on the trails of Methow Valley, Washington.

Event Description:

Come for a free pole hike/bounding clinic with Olympian Brian Gregg and Coach Kim Rudd! Following the outdoor clinic the group will head inside for a post workout appetizers/beverages and hear a presentation on the upcoming Endurance Adventures 2022/23 Trips.

  • Date:  July 21
  • Time: 6 – 8:30 pm
  • Where: PRG parking lot ( close to Wirth lake hiking trails) 4959 Olson Memorial Hwy, Golden Valley, MN 55422
  • What to bring: Classic ski poles or short bounding poles ( armpit length).
  • Schedule:
    • 6:00 – 7:00 Pole hiking and bounding 101 clinic led by Olympian Brian Gregg and Kim Rudd 
    • 7:00- 8:00 Appetizers/drinks and Endurance Adventures presentation of upcoming trips to Silverstar, Methow Valley and Tour of Anchorage.

Olympian Brian Gregg
Kim Rudd

Spring Mountain Bike Adventure in Bentonville, Arkansas!

I have been hearing people rave about how incredible the mountain bike trail system is in Bentonville for the last ten years so my husband and I finally made the ten hour trip from Minneapolis this past spring to escape the cold dreary weather. The apple tree blossoms were in full bloom as well as wild flowers along the bike trail. Incredible waterfalls to view as well as creeks and streams to cross on the single track trails. We soon found out why this area has been a favorite destination for all levels of mountain bikers from around the country. The trail system at Bentonville surround area includes miles of options with beginner easy flow riding trails, intermediate skill trails as well as technical and hilly terrain trails for the more advanced rider. We rented a small house in Bella Vista with a deck overlooking the woods just a half mile from the Back 40, Little Sugar and Blowing Springs trail systems just a twenty minute drive from the town of Bentonville. We discovered the upside of Bentonville trails is how quickly they dry out after a nights rain ( especially the Hobb’s State Park and Monument Trails located on the large Beaver Lake).

Craig and Kim Rudd riding under one of the cave bluffs with a waterfall view on the Blowing Springs Trail System.
Craig Rudd riding next to Beaver Lake on the Karst single track Trail at Monumental Trails at Hobbs State Park.
Kim’s sunset selfie on sally’s Trail with wild purple flocks in full bloom.

We had already road for hours during the day but I could not resist a sunset solo bike ride on the Blowing Springs Trail system which provided some fun roller coaster rides, rock bluffs and purple flocks along the trail. Blowing springs also offers a camp ground for R.V’s along with camper cabins for quick trail access.

There are single track and paved trails connecting all the different section of trails and it is only a short drive to the different trailheads. The first day we enjoyed riding at the Slaughter Penn Trails which connected to the All American trail that lead you to downtown Bentonville. Upon arriving we decided to take a tour of the Walmart Museum where we purchased some ice cream cones for a bargain! On the ride back we spotted the Crystal Bridges Museum ( free of cost to all visitors) which hosts American art exhibits, stunning architecture and 120 acres of Ozark nature featuring walking paths, creek, ponds and many outdoor sculptures.

Bentonville offers some unique restaurants giving visitors a taste of the south so we ordered up some famous chicken waffles! While we were in the downtown area of Bentonville main square there was a festival going on with music and crafts along with the hundreds of top riders at the U.S. preseason professional races at Centennial Park. Make sure to plan your trip well in advanced since hotels fill up fast!