Summer training as a «foundation»

Roland Eggspühler 1. October 2022


«Good cross-country skiers are made in the summer», is a training adage in Nordic skiing. It doesn’t really matter what kind of training you do in summer. The main thing is that you don’t do nothing!

Basic training in summer forms a kind of foundation upon which you build your form over winter. For top athletes, whose competition season lasts from the end of November to the end of March, this foundation is much bigger in terms of volume than for an amateur runner who has defined the Engadin Skimarathon as a one-off goal for the season, for example. Of course, there are also big differences in terms of training intensities (which will not be discussed in detail here), but the crux of the matter is that summer training is the same for everyone. In principle, it is better to start off doing "long and slow" development training units and then increase the load steadily. This ensures that the movement sequences are technically clean right from the start. If you can talk comfortably with your training colleagues, the set pace is definitely okay. If you train alone, try solving a simple mental sum. If you can do this with ease, the pace is right. If not, you need to slow down.

Huge variety

The beauty about training for cross-country skiing in summer is the wide range of variety on offer. Jogging, inline skating, road cycling, and mountain biking are just as good as kayaking, stand-up paddling, or swimming. It is important to always keep your entire body in mind - and alternate leg-intensive training units with units that also challenge the upper body. Don’t forget core stability exercises either, because a stable posture ensures the propulsive power is transmitted with as little loss as possible.


Holistic ski walking

So-called ski walking is highly recommended: Simply explained, this is a slightly advanced level of "Nordic Walking" - and involves a somewhat faster pace or a more challenging topography. This can take the form of a long hiking tour in the mountains or a hilly walk in the midlands, whereby the pole movement of the winter diagonal stride is shortened and integrated into the walking movement sequences. The ideal pole length for ski walking depends on the individual and lies somewhere between classic poles and what you’ll find in Nordic walking textbooks. It's best to just try it out with an old pair of poles and adjust them with a saw if necessary. When it comes to the pole length and movement sequences of ski walking, take the "expert" comments from Nordic walking instructors with a pinch of salt and don’t get annoyed. They are usually well versed in their sport, but mistakenly think Nordic walking and ski walking are one and the same. However, this form of summer cross-country skiing training is much older, which is perhaps why it's somewhat different to the Nordic walking textbooks.

Roller skis for classic and skating techniques

Roller skiing definitely comes the closest to winter cross-country skiing. While there are roller skis for both the classic and skating techniques, stay well away from combined products. Classic roller skis have a reverse lock in the roller, which enables you to push off in the diagonal stride. Unlike in winter, there is no track to guide the ski in summer. So classic roller ski training is therefore very good for ski control. When doing the diagonal stride, it is important to perform the push-off very deliberately and technically clean and not just leave your foot standing. Otherwise, you will pay for this in winter because the grip wax layer won’t be pressed firmly enough into the structure of the snow crystals. Skating roller skis are even closer to their winter counterparts. You can hardly go wrong with the movement sequences and the rollers, which are very similar to inline skates, are very directionally stable.

Braking doesn't really work!

Roller skis have a small «catch» for occasional skiers: You can't brake properly - as is customary on a bicycle - not even with the models that have an integrated brake. You can certainly use it to reduce the speed somewhat (which is also possible by pressing slightly or doing the inline skating T-brake), but it’s not possible to stop abruptly like you would on a bicycle. That's why it's important to always look ahead on roller skis so you can anticipate any potential dangers. You should always see what's coming, or know where potential skid hazards are lurking, such as pedestrian crossings and manhole covers – so you can slow down in advance. In this respect, routes that go uphill are completely unproblematic - and ideally have a postal bus route for your return to the valley.