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 few racers to win both in the same season. Photo: Ulf Palm

Ski areas are opening with manmade and stored snow, the snow tunnels offer constant winter year-round, and the racing season is a month away for the elite and World Cup racers. But what do you do with this snow?

Madshus caught up on training during the transition period with Madshus marathon champion John Kristian Dahl (NOR).

Dahl, who won both Vasaloppet and the Birkebeinerrennet last winter, is embarking on a new marathon season with the Ski Classics in the end of November. This will be the fourth marathon season for the 35-year-old marathon racer, whose background is as a World Cup sprint specialist.

How do you train in the transition period between dryland and snow?
“My training is always centered around double-poling, which will remain the core of what I’m doing throughout the season on snow as well as dryland. However, in the transition period leading up to the start of the racing season, I try to be more specific. That means shorter and harder intervals. And I try to maintain volume while gradually increasing the intensity. Also the shorter intervals are intended to kick start the body a bit,” Dahl says, adding that total volume for the months of October and November is about 70 to 100 hours.

“The last few weeks prior to the racing season, I have to be very careful to make sure I don’t bury myself, and that every workout is completed with quality effort. That means that I have to adjust my training program depending on how I feel. I am the father of two young children, so I know well that unexpected issues can derail the plan along the way.”

What is your top advice for young aspiring racers, masters and recreational skiers who might not have a clear idea of how to train in the transition period between dryland and snow?
“My top advice for all skiers is to keep you head cool. Be flexible. If you are not racing very important events in December, and most of us don’t, then there is no rush to chase the snow. If you find snow, great, but don’t sweat it if you don’t. Don’t make chasing snow into a stressful pursuit that negatively affects your workouts. Good dryland training is better than sketchy snow,” says Dahl, who also suggests making a plan for the season.

“Make a plan for what is important for you and which events you will prioritize, but be prepared to change the plan. The best racers are often those who are best at adapting their plans, and who don’t get stressed out by changes.”