Why you should include long double pole sessions in your training program

If you never let your body feel what it's like to be carb deficient, it can be a painful experience.


Hans Kristian Stadheim is one of the most acknowledged and educated coaches you'll find in the skiing community. He trained Hans Christer Holund and Simen Hegstad Krüger in their run up to winning their championship titles and eventually a place on the national team. Today he is the national team coach for the UK.

In this edition of the "Skisporet" podcast, Stadheim talks to cross-country skiing expert Åge Skinstad about summer training for skiers and why long roller ski sessions are the key to fast skiing this winter.

You can't get away from double poling

Stadheim believes that if you manage to squeeze in a longer doubble poling session on roller skis – preferably every other week – you've already achieved a lot during the summer season.

-Double poling is just something you need to do if you are going to handle the terrain at Birkenbeinerrennet. It’s much better to have a 2–3 hour double poling session a week, where you perform at your maximum, than an hour's walk where you only put in half the effort, hesays.

Also see: Why your training should include double poling

Here are his suggestions on how to do long-distance sessions on roller skis this summer.

Long-distance roller skiing

Too many people who want to do well in ski races this winter get themselves a PT who sets up a 4x4 session. And that’s all well and good. Things will go quite well for the first 10 kilometers of the competition. But you still have quite a long way to go. If you are not familiar with how your body works when you become carb deficient, it can be a painful experience. Really painful. You should ideally have experienced this already to prevent your body from 'switching off' because it thinks something dangerous is about to happen. But fear not. What happens isn't dangerous, but you do need to practice to keep your body running in adeficit of carbohydrates.

On roller skis, I keep double poling untill my arms burn. That way I save my legs as much as possible, but still keep the heart pumping. A long distance session should preferably be 2–3 hours, but out of the season it may be a good idea to start gently.


Remember that in training, continuity is key if you want to get better. "I myself have been so tired after 1.5 hours on roller skis - double poling the whole way - that I saw stars when I got home. And then I went really easy! So start off with short hikes and build up as you go.

Long-distance bike rides are also great exercise

If you don't have roller skis, cycling is also a beneficial exercise. It's often the case that the more specifically you train something, the better you become at this particular activity, but if you don't have roller skis, cycling is a fantastic alternative. Anything that gets the heart pumping will train you! 

Combining long sessions with a couple of short running sessions per week will keep you fit and will speed up your skiing.