Summer Training for Nordic Athletes

In the rearview mirror are the crisp winter days with fresh snow blanketing the ground.  Here in Vermont, the temperatures have increased, the snowpack has melted and everything has turned green. The  memories hold strong of gliding on two narrow skis under your feet, poles in hands over the snow, but now is not necessarily the time to coast.  The summer months or “off-season” is the perfect time where Nordic skiers can work on their technique, strength, and endurance. 

UnTapped reached out to Maple Fanatic Pro Kikkan Randall for insight into her approach and training during these warmer months. 

What does the transition from your winter season to summer season look like for a professional Nordic skier? Do you start the summer season off by goal setting for the winter months or does this wait until the colder months arrive? 

I love the transition from winter to summer because it feels like a fresh start.  It’s a chance to take stock of the winter that just was and look forward to the skier you want to be when the next snow flies.  I like to start with an event goal, or adventure trip I want to take or even just a certain technique I want to improve upon as the big goal and then work back toward smaller goals that I can work with on a daily basis.  I’ve learned it’s the daily work and building good consistency over the summer that really makes the winter productive and more fun.  By the time the colder months arrive I’m just looking forward to seeing how the summer work pays off.

For you what are the main components of a well-rounded summer program? 

Summer is a great time to build diversity into your program and work on the different aspects of being a strong skier all at the same time.  I’ve always enjoyed roller skiing and running so those are big staples for me to log a lot of my volume and distance training.  But throwing in some mountain bike rides adds the fun factor and helps build explosive strength.  I also enjoy putting in focused time in the weight room with some power lifting and mobility exercises to keep balance in my muscle groups and compliment all the endurance training.  Keeping the workouts varied keeps the body from getting too broken down in one mode and also keeps things fresh for the mind.  

How much do you train alone and how much do you train with others and do you value both?

I get in a mix of both, sometimes by choice and sometimes by necessity.  If I have my choice I usually try to line up training with others because I love the camaraderie of it.   I tend to get more out of myself and the time goes by quicker when there is someone by my side.  But life is busy and sometimes it’s nice to just head out the door on a moment’s notice and just let the mind and body wander.  I’m grateful to love and be immersed in a sport that is easy to do by yourself but also can be so fun and productive with friends!

During your sessions how are you fueling to feed the fire and keep energy up? 

As much as I like to think I’m super human I know my body needs good energy to keep up the intensity and duration for what I like to do.  I never want to have to slow down or turn around just because my fuel stores are running low, especially when I’m out training with others.  I’ve learned that it’s important to fuel early and often to ensure good energy through an entire workout so I like to carry products with me that go down easy, are easy to eat and hold while skiing or biking or running, and give me just the right energy boost to keep me going until the next top up.  I’ve found UnTapped products perfect for my needs because UnTappeds and the waffles are simple but tasty, easy to consume on the go, and seem to hit my system at just the right timing and the right pace to keep me feeling strong and steady.  

What do you do to help prevent injuries on a day-to-day basis and to have longevity? 

This is an area where I’m definitely still learning and I don’t get it perfect all the time.  Fueling properly and taking the time to get the right equipment dialed in to my specific needs are both incredibly important for preventing injury.  If something starts to act up, it’s important to jump on it quickly, slow down if necessary and use a little patience to try and recover before the injury gets full blown and shuts you down.  While training is supposed to purposely tire you out and knock you down, it’s been important to me to make sure I don’t let my body get too worn down.  Eating enough throughout workouts and during the day help keep carbohydrate stores adequate is so critical to keep the body strong and resilient.  

On an ongoing basis, how do you meet the energy demands of training at this level to ensure you are reaping all the benefits of your sessions? 

When training at a high level I’ve learned the key is to think of yourself as a steam engine cruising down the tracks.  Once you get moving and that fire starts turning out the steam, all you have to do is keep stoking the fire to keep up the pace.  If you don’t put enough coal in the fire, your engine will slow down.  So keeping that steady flow of good quality nutrition throughout the day and always having a snack right there if you need it is key to get the most out of every training session.

Lastly, what is your favorite non-skiing activity to do? 

I love mountain biking in the summer.  It’s part fitness building and part pure thrill and entertainment.  I love the challenge of getting up and over things and the technical challenge of navigating terrain.  It’s such a great activity to do with friends and for the most part, it’s more gentle on the body that a hard, long run.