Over the last few weeks there have been several articles on how the men and women on the Norwegian national team train. There are obviously some differences. First and foremost it deals with training prioritization, how one divides up the training volume from week to week. The men train hard and easy all the time while the women will have periods of up to week and a half once a month, of only high intensity training. The other weeks their training will be mainly easy workouts, or as the Norwegian’s women’s coach Svein Tore Samdal puts it: -Good old fashion Nordic training.
-No, we see no need to doing that. We are accomplishing what we want through our present methods. We are getting high VO2 max results and are focusing on using our capacity better, such as focusing on this in terms of skating, says Sorgard.
Samdal understands why the men’s team is holding onto its training strategy which is validated by many years of success.
-One doesn’t begin with a new training plan on a team with seasoned athletes that have had a large degree of success. We had a young team which was ready to try something new, says Samdal who started with the new training strategy two years ago.
Could the men become better if they trained like the women?
-A few could, says Samdal.
Sorgard has little faith in that Samdal knows what would make the men improve.
-We believe in what we are doing. I think that some of the women would be better if they did what we are doing. There is one girl that is skiing fast and there is one girl that this plan works for, says Sorgard.
The men’s coach is also happy to show examples of how it isn’t only hard intervals that have an impact on high VO2 values. Many of his athletes have increased their values to over 85ml, almost without any hard intervals.
-Look at Bente Skari, she did well and 90 percent of her training was easy, says Sorgard who feels he is following the easiest way to success, which is that everyone has different areas they have to improve on to become fast. He thinks that the women’s team is focusing on too narrow an area by just looking at VO2 max levels.
Samdal also feels that certain men have other challenges.
-For some (on the men’s team) it isn’t their capacity which is the challenge, there are then other things they should focus on, says Samdal.
While the biathlon team has begun to follow the same training philosophy, it is easy to see that there is some disagreement in the Nordic field about the best way to success.
-It is important that we have different philosophies because there are different groups with different expectations, says Samdal.
-We have different philosophies and there has been success with both, says Sorgard who points out that even though he is holding to traditional methods, the last few years have seen a development of intensity control, precision and strengthening of the skating technique.
Head of sports Bjornar Hakensmoen thinks a little debate is only positive.
-Disagreement for me is very positive, I have never experienced as much debate as I have recently, he says.
-Can’t it be problematic that the national team coaches are disagreeing about how training should be performed?
-There are many roads that lead to Rome, but what has happened in the last few years is not a revolution but an evolution. There are more similarities than differences between these philosophies and the media has blown this out of proportion.
Hakensmoen is afraid that some young athletes will be too influenced by what is said by the media.
-Those that train according to what they read in the media are making a mistake. They should instead call us and listen to what we do. We are six coaches, so it is just to make contact, says Hakensmoen who also points out that extreme training also gives extreme results, but such training also needs good follow up by knowledgeable coaches.