May marks the official start of the Nordic skiing training season. As the Summer is just around the corner, many long-distance and traditional cross-country skiers are already thinking about next season’s events and how to prepare for them.
The 2022 training season will undoubtedly be an exciting year and should be suitable for everyone on the calendar. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. And work means, of course, dryland training over the Summer and Fall.
The great thing about long-distance and cross-country skiing is that it cranks the heart and respiration rates and burns more calories than any other sport – up to 1.000 calories per hour, depending on your intensity and speed.
When you start your Summer training, you should remember that the biggest mistake you can make is going hard every time you work out. In a nutshell, you should avoid training with the same pace and effort every time you train. Instead, you need to balance your training and vary your speed and intensity. It would be best if you had a lot of slow kilometers, some intense intervals, and constant strength training.
Now, let’s take a closer look and remind everyone of the three main categories of basic endurance training: aerobic, anaerobic, and core training.
This is low heart-rate endurance and the base that everything else builds on. Dedicate the training hours on rollerskis, cycling, running, or any way you may find suitable, and it will pay off on snow. A rule of thumb is that you should keep it slow – the pace is good if you can comfortably talk when doing aerobic exercises.
You should do these long workouts several times a week, keeping your heart rate at 65 to 75 percent. If you are a more experienced skier and have done many long-distance ski races, you can alter your pace to avoid repeating the same workload repeatedly. Some sprints during your long workouts are also recommended here and there. Some of the long endurance exercises need to be done close to your aerobic threshold to raise that level. That means a relatively good pace throughout the workout.
This means various intervals during your regular workouts or specific interval exercises. You need higher than race-pace to improve your capacity and system. That means pushing your effort beyond what is comfortable. You can first start with shorter intervals, repeat them often, and then try longer ones when your body gets adjusted. These workouts aim to raise your anaerobic threshold and tolerance to withstand lactic acid in your muscles while going fast.
Here are some examples
You can try three 10-minute efforts; six three-minute efforts; and eight one-minute efforts, with one minute of rest between efforts. Or you can make 1-2-3-4-5-minute efforts with the exact recovery times. The key is consistency between intervals. Work as hard as you can, and your heart rate should be 85 percent or higher. It would be best always to aim to finish each interval in about the same amount of time.
In addition to these specific intervals, you should also do race pace workouts or long exercises that are a little slower than your maximum race pace.
Typically, these exercises vary from 30 minutes to 90 minutes, but for experienced long-distance skiers, they can go up to 4-5 hours. In those cases, you have to keep in mind that your recovery time from hard four-hour training is quite long, and you should consider that when planning your following workouts.
This means trunk circuits to improve your core strength, and of our sport’s three fundamentals: balance, weight shift, and timing, the first two are dependent on solid core strength.
These three basic training categories, strength training being the fourth, are just rough illustrations of what a long-distance and traditional cross-country skier needs to work on when aiming to do well in the winter.
This Summer, you will learn more about proper long-distance and traditional cross-country skiing training and how Pro Tour skiers train on dryland.
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Photo: Ski Classics Challenger Ring Frei / Michael Geißler