Original text in Norwegian: Ingebor Scheve (Langrenn Pluss), English text: Teemu Virtanen, Picture: Thibaut/NordicFocus
Norwegian Hans Christer Holund is a modern day superstar in skiing, and he has won two gold medals at the World Championships; one last winter in the 15 km skating and one in the 50 km skating in 2019. Additionally, he finished third in the 30 km skiathlon at this year’s World Championships and was a pivotal part of the Norwegian winning team in the 4 x 10 km relay.
Since he likes long distances and is extremely good at skiing 50 km races, it is interesting to take a look at his training methods over the summer and see if they are similar to our Pro Team athletes. He granted an interview for our affiliate Langrenn.com Pluss, and these are the key workouts that Holund is currently undertaking in order to succeed at the upcoming Olympics.
Hans Christer Holund is one of the national team skiers who trains the most hours per year. In the summer months of July and August, he trains extra hard, often around 100 hours per month. This summer's training log is filled with a combination of hard sessions and long workouts in various forms.
Holund is also known for his brutal training regime towards important races. Then, he likes to do long workout sessions of three to four hours on an empty stomach and without adding nutrients along the way. However, it is not a strategy he recommends for everyone as one needs to be experienced and used to such workouts.
“Nine out of ten athletes should not train like me,” says Holund to Langrenn Pluss.
During the summer months, the Lyn SKI skier focuses on volume, and that includes at least one long run of around three hours each week. Such long sessions are also among the 32-year-old's favorite workouts. In addition, he normally does two hard workouts a week. He does this all year round, summer and winter.
What is your favorite summer workout?
“I like all kinds of long workouts, but there are few sessions that turn into a nice, long run, often in the mountains in Sjusjøen.”
Why do you like that workout and how did you first find out about it?
“My parents have a cabin in Sjusjøen, so I have been there a lot all year, and also use the cabin regularly.”
Why is this a good training method for cross-country skiers?
“Long easy-paced sessions build the foundation for the harder sessions that are needed closer to the race season.
What are the specific training benefits of this workout?
“It develops endurance.”
When Holund is asked about the structure of such workouts, he laughs and says that it’s very simple. One only needs to put his or her running shoes on and set off. He does this type of a running exercise at least once a week throughout the dryland season.
When it comes to hard workout sessions, Holund loves long intervals on roller-skis, preferably on tracks that are similar to the ones that are used for racing in the winter.
What is the best hard workout in the dryland season?
“I like to do long threshold sessions where I get a total intensity time of at least one hour, up to an hour and a half. I often do three or four 20-minute intervals or two or three half-hour ones. Intensity-wise, the intervals are done at the zone three just below my threshold (according to the Norwegian Olympic skier’s intensity scale, there can be either 5 or 8 different zones). It is a relatively controlled intensity training, but when the length of the intervals is so long, it becomes a tough workout nonetheless.”
What are the benefits of this particular workout?
“It is a good and solid exercise that builds your capacity without you having to go all the way in every interval. It develops the qualities required to ski fast in the winter. If you do these on roller-ski tracks, they can be very beneficial to your racing. Long threshold intervals help to build aerobic capacity. In other words, they increase the ability to maintain a higher intensity and pace without producing too much lactic acid in your muscles.”
How do you actually carry out this demanding workout?
“I like to do a good warm-up of at least half an hour. If I am at home, I often ski on the roller ski track in Holmenkollen. If I'm in Sjusjøen, it's nice to go from Håkons Hall, which is close to the downtown of Lillehammer, and then end up at the Birkebeiner-stadium and continue the workout up there. Then, I end the session with a 20-30-minute cool-off. I do this at least once a week.”