For Oddvar BrÃ¥, Vegard Ulvang, and Bjrn DÃ¦hlie, distance training was the main ingredient. Researcher Ulrik Wislff believes that much of this training was worthless.
The researcher from Trondheim, Norway is strongly questioning the training philosophy used in all Norwegian endurance sports. He claims that the Norwegian Olympic Committee is leading athletes down the wrong path, that the Norwegian Ski Federation is “sleeping through class” by teaching the wrong things, and that Cross-Country skiers are wasting their time on worthless long distance sessions.
These statements can be found in a sensational article in the Norwegian magazine Skisport. Ulrik Wislff challenges coaches and organizations that do not want to learn from the research he and other researchers at the cardiology department at the St.Olaf’s hospital in Trondheim, Norway are performing.
“What use do you have from distance training other than recovery? Probably nothing… It may be a nice thing to do if you have time and enjoy being outside, but it gives minimal or no training effect”. This is what researcher Ulrik Wislff writes about the training that Cross-Country skiers spend most of their time doing.
– Do you really mean that the most important part of a Cross-Country skier’s training is of no value?
“Yes, likely so. Some critics claim that I have forgotten the muscular benefits, but I have absolutely not. This also develops best by interval training. Instead of distance training you should rather spend the time on technique-training, or just “hang out” with friends – it gives you the same cardiovascular training benefits”, says Wislff.
Ulrik Wislff has participated in the research project (lead by Jan Helgerud og Jan Hoff) that has given impulses to the new training concepts of the Norwegian Women’s National Cross-Country Team. The project has made him a huge supporter of interval training. He suggests three interval sessions during a normal training week, and thinks it may be beneficial to do 5 – 10 interval sessions per week (in some periods) if the athlete can get enough recovery and rest. These statements clash hard with the practiced training philosophies among Norwegian coaches.
– How can Norwegian Cross-Country skiers win so often by training so wrong?
“I think many of them have trained and are training correctly. They have done interval training without calling it so. What Bjrn DÃ¦hlie and others did is not unlike what we suggest”.