Reaping the Benefits of Nordic Skiing
Cross Country ski skiing can seem like an exclusive club or restaurant with a long line to get in. From the outside, it looks like the host holds a velvet rope open for those with the right fitness, technique, genetics and equipment. Better to just stay home on the couch watching TV, right? Wrong. There’s a number of ways to help a would-be Cross Country skier find fitness and enjoyment for the sport. Here’s how to get to Cross Country skiing’s dance floor.
Step One: The Secret Handshake
The easiest way to stare down a potentially intimidating marathon event or a long tour with friends is through routine. Build a schedule around your week that looks routine and follow it. Each week should look like the last. As your confidence grows, one can make gentle increases to the duration and length of the exercise routine. Health, fitness and enjoyment of the sport are easily achievable goals that will last a lifetime. Here’s what a weekly breakdown could look like:
* Monday, the club is always closed as it is the international day of athletic rest. (You can look forward to Mondays, now.)
* Build strength on Tuesdays with a basic strength routine. Find and follow a set of strength exercises at a fitness center, outdoor park or even at home. Try to vary the routine and the exercises to stimulate different muscle groups.
* On Wednesday, maintain fitness with a basic ski, run or bike. Don’t over think it, just get out the door for a reasonable amount of time.
* Thursdays can be a day for a more challenging workout. Change your speeds and effort during your run, ski or bike if you are thinking about possibly entering a race sometime during the winter. Even if you are not planning on racing, varying the pace of your workout will improve your fitness at a faster rate.
* Fridays are always a good day to recover because its Friday!
* Saturday and Sunday, this can be a great time to hop in a race or get out the door with family or friends to enjoy the outdoors. Go for a long tour on your skis and pack a lunch. Explore a new trail system or make your own trail. On the weekends, time can be plentiful yet precious so make the most of it.
Step Two: The Side Door
Technique is a way to make everything easier. Find a clinic or take a set of lessons at your local Nordic center. Learning and understanding the basic movements and technique of Cross Country skiing is the best place to start. As you learn and master these first steps, your confidence and enjoyment for the sport will grow. The US Ski Team has some excellent DVDs you can put on at home and practice with no one around.
Step Three: The Bribe
Properly fitted Cross Country equipment will add to your enjoyment of the sport. Skis must be correctly sized and fitted to your own body weight. Well-fitting boots are essential. Poles the appropriate size for classic or skate can make a significant difference. Stoping in at your local Nordic retailer and getting expert advice is an investment that will reap rewards for years.
Step Four: The Dance Floor
This is a sport that rewards perseverance. You’ll find each step builds on the last. Once you’re inside, the enjoyment will last a lifetime. Here is to a cold and snowy winter.
The writer is a two time Olympian and proud native Vermonter.