John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won Vasaloppet on March 6, then he won the Birkebeinerrennet on March 21, and is one of only 2 racers to win both in the same season. Photo: Ulf Palm

John Kristian Dahl (NOR) won Vasaloppet on March 6, then he won the Birkebeinerrennet on March 21, and is one of only 2 racers to win both in the same season. Photo: Ulf Palm

Maximize your training effort on roller skis.

Vasaloppet and Birkebeiner champion John Kristian Dahl (NOR) shares his training advice on how to get the most out of the time invested, whether your main focus is marathons, sprints or World Cup distance skiing.

Dahl, who won both the Vasaloppet and the Birkebeiner this season, was on the Norwegian national sprint team for years before he switched to marathons with Team United Bakeries three years ago. Dahl explains that the differences in the roller ski workouts for marathon racers and sprint specialists are less than you might expect. The basic training principles are the same regardless of distance.

“Harder workouts are more efficient, no matter what distance you are preparing for, so there are really not much difference in the training,” says the 35-year-old, who won Vasaloppet in his first season on the marathon circuit back in 2014.

The biggest difference between marathon and sprint training is what you do with the roller ski workouts. What you do will be determined by both ambition level and race/distance target, Dahl explains.

“The number of workouts and the number of hours depends to a large extent on how much time you can invest in training, and what your main focus is. But some of your workouts should be in the neighborhood of your estimated race time,” Dahl says.

For most ambitious skiers, about half of their overall training volume will be on roller skis. For the marathon racers, most of that volume is double-poling, both during distance-workouts and intervals.

“We do workouts that last four to five hours and sometimes even more, but its important to build up to this kind of volume gradually,” Dahl says.

“We didn’t jump into these kinds of workouts before we had a solid foundation of both specific strength and endurance. It’s very easy to get overuse injuries. Start by introducing more and more double-poling as you get stronger.”