Distance Training That Makes You Better

FasterSkierOctober 6, 2003

The purpose of this article is to make skiers think about the pace and length you should chose in distance sessions. I hope to point out some important factors to consider, make suggestions to help you add some variety, and change your routines and attitude. I think in the end you will ski a lot faster. Some of the quotes and examples I use are at times contradicting, but it all comes down to one thing: developing a feel for the right pace. Here is how you can do just that: 

“Listen to your body”

Successful skiers have a feel for the right pace in both distance and intervals.

The expression “listen to your body” and the idea of letting you body make the decisions has been around forever. World Champion Per Elofsson even included it as a final advice in a FasterSkier.com interview on October 1st. when asked how to approach training.

It sounds very simple but it's the single hardest thing to do and understand in training. Too often what we feel we “should” be doing or what's on the training schedule often makes one blind to the body's signals. Your body might tell you that you are tired but you still go out and do hard distance training or intervals. How stupid is that? The end result is simple: you make no progress and are now even more tired. You didn't listen!

Start changing this approach. Back off and rest when the body tells you it needs rest, and pick it up and train well when you feel good. The training plan is only a guideline. How you feel and respond to the training should matter the most!

Most skiers that I have known with a certain level of success have a “built in feel” for how hard they can go and still be ready for tomorrow’s distance or interval session. This skill is developed through (hard) systematic training in their junior years and as adults. Sometimes training too hard or too much and leaning from it was a part of developing this “feeling”. Now that these athletes are elite skiers they now make good choices. They can push hard in some distance sessions, go very easy or medium in others. They feel what's right. It's never all hard or all very easy – it's a mix.

This mix also develops good strength and technique since the speed or pace in the uphills often is good enough to build specific strength and improve the technique. They might occasionally walk up the hills, but that's not the average session. Most sessions happen with a certain degree of good technique.

Here are some different perspectives about training intensity:

Moroccan Olympic champion runners

Last year we posted <one of the most exciting articles I have ever translated. It was about the Moroccan runners, including Olympic and World Champions in the 5000 and 10000 meters. They trained with five to six weekly hard sessions year-round, and distance sessions up to 50 minutes–but never longer! They did not talk about “jogging” but only running at fast pace. (This is something to think about for those who want to always go long and slow!)


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