Skiing is a great sport because, unlike almost all other sports, you can only ski during one season of the year. This means that there are three other seasons open for other activities. Although I spend much of my training time in the off-season on roller skis, I can always pull out my bike or running shoes to do something totally different—and it still counts as training. The option to have other ways to train helps prevent the burnout experienced by athletes in sports such as swimming, running, or cycling. I can’t imagine spending my winter riding a bike on rollers while watching old videos in a damp basement for hours on end, just waiting for spring. I suppose Nordic skiing can be considered cross training for other sports as well. Throughout high school and college, I ran and biked competitively on the college cross country running circuit and in regional mountain bike races. I love the variety and chance to work on developing new skills. Of course, being away from snow for seven or eight months makes it that much more exciting when the flakes start to fly.
I’ve enjoyed a variety of activities over the years that all get counted as training. Here are some ideas for the fall, for both teams and individuals:
In high school, we played ultimate Frisbee almost daily. It was often a “destination workout,” where we would run three miles to the lighted fields at Big Willow Park. This way, we would do a six mile run, as well as sprint training and team building on the field. Most importantly, we honed our skills for the annual Ultimate Championship of the World against our high school Alpine ski team.
In college, the team sport of choice was speed ball. Speed ball is more common in the East and is a cross between soccer and rugby. You can use your hands, as long as someone kicks the ball to you in the air first. If you get tagged while you are holding the ball, it becomes the other team’s ball. Otherwise, speed ball is basically played like soccer, trying to score goals against your opponent. Playing speed ball was usually a reward after a productive hill bounding workout. Either of these workouts on their own can make you sore and I can remember barely being able to walk the morning after a full afternoon of hill bounding and speed ball.
Once it became too dark to play outside, we would have some epic dodge ball battles in the gym. Dodge ball was the warm-up of choice for circuit strength. Circuit strength, while not as much fun as dodge ball, was probably more productive for skiing. The CXC Academy has great ideas for your circuit strength routine.
For folks who don’t have a team to play Frisbee, speed ball, or dodge ball with, don’t worry; there are still plenty of ski teams in need of volunteer coaches. You can also try these activities:
An article on cross training would not be complete without mention of cyclocross. Cyclocross, or ‘cross, is a sport that was invented for cross training. It is a mix of biking and running, with hurdles, mud, steep hills, cold weather, and more mud. ‘Cross races are more fun and usually more laid-back than almost any other individual sport. Bryan Cook is CXC’s primary representation on the cyclocross circuit and he lays down the hammer!
Can roller skiing be considered cross training? To a certain extent: yes, as it is definitely not the same as skiing. My favorite fall roller ski workout is specific strength. It is one of the few roller ski workouts you can do after dark. I usually find a quiet hill in a neighborhood with no traffic and good pavement. I can ski for an hour or more on one hill, while being in the dark helps me lose track of time. If you’re going to try this, be legal and safe with a headlamp and red tail light.
General strength is one of the best cross training workouts for the fall. If you are an avid runner or biker in the summer, chances are you have lost a lot of upper body strength. Getting in the gym and working on core and upper body strength will help you make a faster transition to skiing on snow. You can check out the CXC Academy www.cxcacademy.com for more strength training ideas.
It is important to remember the value of cross training in order to keep skiing enjoyable. I like to mix up my training, especially on low volume weeks, so that I’m not just “skiing easy.” Mix it up, try new activities, and remember that almost anything active can be considered cross training for Nordic skiing.
U.S. Ski Team/CXC Team Vertical Limit member
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