By Teemu Virtanen
As we are now enjoying the perks of the Easter weekend with our families, or in solitude, and stuffing ourselves with some holiday delicacies, we can take a moment to think about our upcoming training sessions. We are now in the transitional period where we leave the winter, and skiing, behind and get ready for our extensive summer training. Because the world is now in a halt mode due the pandemic and we are distancing ourselves from physical connection and daily social routines, we have more time to focus on our training if we do it safely without any unnecessary contact.
Many of our Pro Team athletes have continued skiing if the conditions have allowed that. Some have managed to log in a lot of kilometers and hours, and they are persistently building up for the upcoming summer training. There is an expression that we all know; “the skiers are made in the summer”, and that period is, indeed, extremely important for professional athletes, semi-professional skiers and recreational skiers alike.
But it’s not an easy task to figure out the optimal way of training over the summer. Each individual has his or her own methods, and everyone possesses different physical abilities. However, there are certain general rules, or factors, that apply to a skier’s summer training. Cross-country skiing is a full-body workout where all physical elements are crucial; strength, endurance, speed, VO2max, technique and coordination. Therefore, all these areas need to be improved and worked on over the summer. However, it’s time-consuming and often very complex to create a training program that can cover all of these aspects in perfect balance.
Cross-country skiers and our Pro Team athletes include a variety of workouts in their training programs either by running, roller-skiing, cycling, kayaking, rowing and Nordic walking/running (using ski poles). Additionally, they do a lot of strength training with weights and without them (circuit training). Then, an important factor in the success of anyone’s training is the sufficient recovery time between bouts.
In this Easter Special article series, we are not going to pay too much focus on individual workouts or training sessions by defining them in detail, although some examples are given, rather than ask some of our Pro Team athletes about their summer training in general and determine why it is so elemental for long distance skiers.
“Yes, summer training is really important,” Jørgen Aukland, the manager of Team Ragde Eiendom and a former Pro Team athlete says without hesitation. “To build a solid base with lots of hours, strength training and also two medium hard sessions a week – that’s a good formula. And of course you should compete in both roller-ski and running races. Or find yourself another fun activity such as biking or triathlon.”
“To be a good cross-country skier, you need good endurance and that’s nothing you build up in a couple of days. Perfection takes time,” Oskar Kardin, Team Ragde Eiendom, continues. His teammate and two-time Vasaloppet winner Petter Eliassen shares the same view:
“I also agree that a skier is made in the summer, at least that is the time when the foundation is built for further progression.”
If skiers are made in the summer, what is the perfect ratio between endurance, strength and interval training?
”70% easy training, mostly roller-skiing, some running. 20% interval sessions, medium to hard. 10% strength,” Jørgen describes the optimal share. Petter focuses even more on the slow-paced endurance exercises:
“I guess 85-90% low intensity, 5-10% higher intensity/competition. Around 5% is strengt training.”
Oskar’s summer training follows the same guidelines as Petter’s, but he doesn’t do any strength training over the summer. He hasn’t structured his summer training yet, but he admits that he needs to make a good plan.
As we can see, there are some slight changes in these three athletes’ areas of focus in their training, but generally speaking they are quite the same. So, the summer is mainly meant for endurance training, but how much does the focus change when the fall and the winter kick in?
”After the summer, there’s less hours, more intensity. Shorter and harder intervals, but also more competitions. Speed becomes more important, and long sessions go down in number,” Jørgen points out and Oskar seems to be on the same page with him. Petter gives a bit more detailed description:
“When August comes, we have some roller-ski competitions. So, it is more high intensity and a little less low intensity, and in September and October on training camps, we have more high intensity and a high total volume. Then, after the camps back home we have more low intensity workouts and a little lower total training volume.”
In tomorrow’s article, we will give you some examples of these athletes’ summer workouts and what they want to achieve by them. Now, we finish up by letting Jørgen sum up the importance of summer training for all skiers.
“It is important to do many types of training, not only double-poling from May to December. Have fun, gobiking, surf skiing, track running or find other training methods to keep your motivation up and to avoid any injuries. Have fun in the summer! But there are NO SHORTCUTS, you need to do the job!”