Running for Ski Fitness

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I love to ski, and for those of you read my blog this summer, my other favorite past time these days is running.  So this winter I enlisted Eric Orton, the Born to Run Coach to hit the trails and chat about winter running! Yup – the trails we love in summer, are also a great place to train when not shredding the ski slopes.
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With summer run camp dates set (July 28-30,2016) and the Rendezvous Hill Climb confirmed for August 6th, I’m running and skiing this winter to stay strong.

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AC: How is running for ski fitness different than training for a race?

EO: Most races are endurance in nature, using a lot of slower twitch muscle fibers, where as skiing recruits more fast twitch fibers.  And since you already have great endurance from the summer run season, you do not have to focus as much on long runs or be as concerned with creating too much fatigue as we do during the racing season.  So therefore, we can do more quality throughout the week and reduce the amount of running we are doing.  In short, doing less, but adding more intensity.  (Assuming the runner is coming from a summer/fall’s worth of run training).  We would not want to keep this high intensity training for too long, but should be used as a ski conditioning period and as the ski season gets in full swing, this intensity is cut back so you are fresh for your skiing.

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AC: How important is cross training?

EO: I think what is most important for specific ski cross training is to add in a lot of varied running at different speeds and interval lengths.  A great window to work in would be anywhere from very short sprints of 8-20 seconds to 1-3 min steady intervals at about 90% effort.  And it can be fun to also get a little creative and add in other exercises DURING a run.  For example, doing one legged squats and working on eccentric/concentric exercises like box jumps or running/jumping up and down stairs (plyometrics) can be highly effective to help combat ski fatigue and soreness, while improving muscle/strength endurance.

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AC: If I hike or skin in the backcountry does that count in place of a run day? 

EO: Absolutely.  This can be used as your endurance day and shorter fast/harder runs opposite endurance activities to specifically hit the fast twitch muscles of downhill alpine skiing. And touring/skinning/hiking is a great change of pace from the long runs during other parts of the year.

AC: With the days being so short sometimes I have to hit the gym/ treadmill – any advice for running on a treadmill? 

EO: The treadmill can be great training and a good way to run inclines/hills when that is not possible outside on snow.  I think the key is to be creative and think of a very structured workout before you jump on the treadmill.  This very structured workout will help you stay focused, which makes the time go really fast.  So doing lots of short intervals at a variety of speeds and inclines.  A great one would be to do 1-3 min intervals at an incline and then do 1-2 min fast intervals with little incline to finish.  I would avoid running steady for long periods of time.

AC:  Running Camp dates have been set for July 2016 – what advice do you have for me to keep strong, healthy and focused through the winter season? 

EO: I think the number one things is always about having a goal.  It is easy to get out the door for a run on a nice day or when it works easy into our schedules, but a goal really helps on the days you just don’t want to go out.  And it is these days that are important for consistency.  Good health, strength and good running really requires consistency and frequency – having a goal is so important to help with this.

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