How do you become a better runner through cross country skiing?

How do you become a better runner through cross country skiing?

Photo: Lidingöloppet and Svenska Skidskytteförbundet 

Frida Karlsson, Moa Lundgren and Ebba Andersson have something in common, besides world-class cross-country skiing: they have all won TCS Lidingöloppet. What makes cross country skier particularly strong on the Lidingö trails? In this part of Lidingölabbet, the skiing legends Anna Jönsson Haag and Johan Olsson and the national biathlon team's coach Ola Ravald describes how to become a better runner through skiing. 

How has cross country skier made you an accomplished cross country runner?
Anna Jönsson Haag: Classical cross-country skiing requires strength for the diagonal stride and for the push upwards and that often gives extra power in uphill running. Cross country skiers may not always run beautifully, but they are very strong, especially in hills!

Many cross country skiers seem to have an advantage on the TCS Lidingöloppet trails. What is it that can make skiing a good preparation for TCS Lidingöloppet this fall?
Anna Jönsson Haag: Above all that skiers get solid base training, with good oxygen uptage and  strong and well-trained bodies. This helps to maintain posture and form thoughout the race, and also helps the body to get through the tougher parts of the course.

How does cross-country skiers help the cardiovascular fitness? 
Johan Olsson: Particularly the fact that you use your entire body in cross country skiing. This makes you use the cardiovascular system more than in most other sports. Another advantage is that it is a low-impact sport, which allows you to train continuously for many hours, which in the end is the best way to develop in most endurance sports. 

Do you have an advice on a good workout on cross country skis which could benefit running?
Johan Olsson: Cross country skiing is often performed in hilly terrain. Skiing uphill requires a lot of energy, while skiing downhill is basically recovery. This makes short skiing sessions with higher intensity appear like intervals (so called ”natural intervals”) than running. So my advice would be to find hilly courses for short workouts, fins a steady flow, and then increase the pace. (For more advice from Johan and Anna Olsson, contact AJ Camps through this link).

What can you do to keep your feet strong during the winter so that they do not get injured when it becomes time to start running again?
Ola Ravald: The transition between different surfaces, most often from snow- to track or trail season, is always a challenge for cross country skiers. There is always a risk of getting injured due to overload or overuse.

To avoid this, cross country skiers often try to keep running throughout the winter season. They most often run between 1 and 3 sessions/week during the winter with different intansity and distance on the different workouts. This helps them maintain the impact training, which makes the transition from snow to solid ground easier. We also put great importance on wearing good shoes during the transitional period, and on increasing the length and intensity gradually so that the increase in running does not become too great at once. Then, last but not least, we continuously train strength and active mobility in the running muscles.

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