How do the top athletes train in late summer and how can recreational skiers learn from this?

As a top skier, I was often asked over the summer and fall whether I would soon start gearing up towards a new season. The top skiers train regularly most of the year, and the truth is that summer is often the time of the year when they train most in terms of hours.

Summer is used to build a base with lots of volume and long, fun training exercises. For recreational skiers, summer is also a good time to copy the mindset of the top athletes. Summer often means vacation and, with a little planning, recreational skiers can get some good training in without compromising their time with family and other pastimes the summer has to offer.

Adapt to your everyday life

Every August, top skiers meet in Rogaland for the Blink festival. During this period, training gradually moves into a more intensive phase. First, there are these competitions in Blink and Toppidrettsveka a little later in August, after which further courses are marked out. These competitions are important for all skiers. Firstly, no training is better and more important than competitions. Secondly, it is the best way of measuring how you have developed during the first training months of the year and which areas you should focus on or make adjustments to for the next period.

I myself know a lot about training as a top skier, but I’ve now moved into a different phase of my “career” and feel that I have less knowledge about how to plan my training over the fall. I now have other things to do besides training a lot and I don't train more than 8–12 hours a week.

My goal is to ski fast, preferably the fastest in Marcialonga and Vasaloppet.

To be able to reach my goal, I try to think a bit like a top skier, but adapt it to my everyday life and my circumstances to get the most out of the effort I put in.

Think like the top skier – more intensive over the fall

Roughly speaking, we can say that for every week from the end of August to the end of fall, the top skiers' training will become more intensive and the focus on volume will drop off. Don't get me wrong, a lot of training is still out in, but the proportion of intensive work is generally higher in fall than in spring. And the total number of hours is also slightly less.

Few recreational skiers begin their skiing season before January. So, where the top skiers' season starts in November, for the recreational skiers it's a bit later. This means that recreational skiers can basically wait a little before starting to work more intensively. The challenge is that once summer is over and everyday life begins, work and other commitments make it difficult to do much training in terms of hours. So, I think we can all think along the lines of the top skiers when we get going on our fall training.

Cross-country skiing is, and is becoming, an endurance sport and I focus on keeping my aerobic capacity up. This is most effective way of running intervals. So, where I’ve been training regularly up till now and with not so much focus on intensive work, I’ll now start intensifying my training.

Prioritise long running

I aim to do 10 hard sessions a month, making it an average of 2.5 hard sessions a week. The intensity and type of movement for these will vary, but I will focus on running for spells of between 20 and 60 min. Running is great for working on your aerobic capacity, while also being efficient with your time and simple in terms of logistics. Since skiing is where I want to perform, some of the hard sessions will be on roller skis, but I do focus on running.

On top of this, I like do a long poling session every week, preferably 3–4 hours. I look at the other sessions as filler sessions which I do when I want and have the opportunity. In practice I would say that I try to train every day because continuity is important, but it’s the hard sessions and the one long run that make up my recipe for success. If I’m tired due to overall work load, I drop some of the “filler sessions” so my body can benefit from the hard sessions. The hard sessions ensure I maintain my capacity and able to manage the long hike, which ensures that my muscles are prepared for the long runs.

Whereas last year, as a top skier, I trained one hard session and had an average of just over 20 hours a week, I would now like an average of 2.5 hard sessions and 8–12 hours a week.

A typical training week for me this fall:

Monday: interval running 6 x 6 min with 1 min break. 1 h

Tuesday: Long hike 3 – 4 h poling

Wednesday: Trail running 1 h.

Thursday: 6 x 10 min poling 1.5 h.

Friday: Running/roller skiing 1.5 h

Saturday: Interval running 45 – 15 x 45 1 h.

Sunday: Running/roller skiing/cycling 1.5 h

The specificity of the training will become greater the closer the season gets, but I'll wait until the snow's gone before I start with the majority of the sessions specifically.

So what about the "smile pulse" and well-being? Yes, that’s just as important as always. By using the smile pulse as a guide, you make sure that you are listening to your body and maintaining your well-being. From experience, I want you to be kind to yourself. Every workout should give you energy and the desire to keep going. If you come in after a session and feel like a limp biscuit, you’re driving yourself too hard.

The top skier is now planning his fall, based on how the summer has been and what answers the roller ski competitions have given him. I would recommend you do the same. Plan what you think you need to do to achieve your goals and find your recipe for success. Some trophy winner or another said that if you fail in your planning, you're planning to fail. You rarely achieve something without knowing where you are, where you’re going and how you're going to get there.

I’ll keep you updated on how I’m doing and wish you all the best with your trip! If our paths cross, I'll send you a smile!