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Endurance training starts before the snow flies

Training and being physically ready are essential aspects of any sport. It’s important to feel and be strong to enjoy skiing.

Cross country skiing uses muscles that we don’t normally use in our daily lives. A little bit of early season effort will help you get the most out of your winter ski experience.

Skiing is typically done at elevations we are not used to. It can be cold, with adverse conditions, so it’s important to have a strong heart.



Skiing is such a gratifying sport that it can be enjoyed under physical and environmental stress (like storm conditions) if you have the stamina, strength and mental preparedness.

Before you start to get into shape for skiing, take the following topics into consideration.




Nutrition is important. Be sure to eat a variety of food that will provide your body with the essential nutrients and energy required to perform at its best.

Good food means lots of carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. The more you exercise, the more carbos you will need — rice, pasta and potatoes give you good energy and recovery for your next workout.

Don’t forget you need extra fuel to keep your body warm as well as to endure the exercise. Hydration is fundamental. Sixty percent of our bodies are water. Be sure to drink water before, during and after exercise.

If your workout is an hour or more, be sure to have water with you the entire time. After a training session, change into warm, dry clothes as soon as possible to avoid chilling and to stay healthy.

Your exercise should consist of getting ski muscles strong and prepare your cardiovascular system for extended work. Backcountry ski touring or cruising on machine groomed tracks are considered endurance workouts and both require a good base of aerobic conditioning. With a base you can ski more powerfully, maintain good technique and recover for the next day of skiing.

Endurance training consists of easy bike riding, running, hiking, swimming or whatever your sport of choice is. Endurance training should be 30 minutes to five hours.

Now that winter is almost upon us, hiking with ski poles is among the best things you can do. When hiking with poles try to keep your body slightly forward as if you are skiing. Plant your poles ahead of you about waist high. It’s a great workout. You can really use upper body with the poles.

Until enough snow arrives for skiing it’s a good idea to get out there and start doing those ski movements. The idea is to maintain a long, slow pace to improve your aerobic capacity and ability to get vital oxygen to your muscles.

This type of exercise develops your heart. As your heart grows larger, its ability to take in oxygen increases. At the same time the capillaries around your muscles increase, thus getting more oxygen to the muscle which means you don’t tire as quickly.

In endurance training the heart rate should be at 60 to 70 percent of its maximum rate. To calculate your approximate heart rate, subtract your age from 220 beats per minute. Working out at 60 to 70 percent maximum heart rate should be a moderate and enjoyable pace. You should be able to talk with your partners during training.

The cool thing about this kind of training is that once your heart gets bigger and stronger it tends to stay that way — unlike other muscles that shrink when not used for a period of time.

So this really pays off as you get older.

If you can’t smile when you are training, then slow down and turn up the corners of you lips. Sports are about fun and fun is play — so you should be having a good time when you are out there.

Debbi Waldear is director of Kirkwood Cross Country. She is no slouch to the concepts of fitness and training. Coming out of retirement, Debbi has won eight World Master Championship gold medals in the past few years.


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