Train like a champion

Sverre Dahlen Aspenes (NOR) after winning the pursuit at the 2018 IBU Junior World Championships. Photo: Jo Dale
Sverre Dahlen Aspenes (NOR) won the pursuit at the 2018 IBU Junior World Championships. Photo: Jo Dale

Sverre Aspenes (NOR) won the gold medal in the pursuit at the IBU Junior World Championships in Otepää (EST) on March 4, as well as the bronze medal in the sprint the day before. Check out how the 20-year-old trains and his favorite workout.

How was your gold medal race?
“I was very calm that day, almost surprisingly calm. Although it was a pursuit and there were racers all around, I managed to ski my own race, and ski smart. At the range, I focused on the task. At the sprint race the day before, I missed twice on my standing shooting. I felt like I had taken too lightly on the standing, and after the race, I said to myself I was going to shoot clean on the standing round as well as the prone. I started the pursuit in third place, about half a minute behind the Russian and eight or nine seconds behind the Frenchman. I quickly passed the French racer, and after the first shooting, I left the stadium in first place. From there, I felt like I was in charge the whole race,” Aspenes recalls.

What is your overall dream?
“I want to be as good as I can get, and I want to be able to call myself the best biathlete in the world. If that lasts a day or a decade, it doesn’t really matter. But to know that all my competitors tried their best but they couldn’t beat me.”

How do you train?
“It depends a lot on where I am in the periodization plan. Some weeks I train only six or seven hours, but my biggest weeks in the dryland season can be almost 30 hours. And in the middle of the race season, my big weeks tend to be 15 to 17 hours. But regardless, it’s a lot of traditional, old-fashioned ski training, nothing fancy. This season I have prioritized harder and longer workouts because I had some sickness in the meat of the dryland season. In terms of shooting, I have focused on increasing the quality of my sessions. I often spent more than 25 hours in a month on just aiming at the target, simply standing on my living room floor without even firing a bullet.”

What is your favorite workout?
“I love skating. And what I love the most is a long and hard skate workout. Sometimes it doesn’t feel so lovely while youre in the middle of the intervals, but after the workout I feel so good and accomplished. I feel like the effort really made a difference in the overall picture. Since I live in Lillehammer, I often do this workout on the competition courses at the Olympic stadium. One of my favorite sessions starts with an easy 25-minute warm-up, then six 8-minute intervals at level 4 (using the Norwegian “Olympiatoppen” intensity scale that goes from 1 to 5 where level 5 is fully anaerobic). I do my intervals progressively, so my first interval will start easy and end up at level 4; the rest of the intervals are fully in level 4. I do about 2 minutes of super-easy skiing between intervals. This makes for a total of about 50 minutes intensity. After the last interval, I do 20 minutes easy. The first 10 minutes I do on skis, the last 10 minutes I jog. I often feel like my legs get pretty tight after these long, hard intervals, and jogging seems to help loosen up.”

Workout summary
25 minutes easy warm-up
6 x 8 minutes level 4 intervals
2 minutes recovery between intervals
20 minutes easy cool-down (10 minutes skiing/10 minutes jogging)