Focus on quality and stick with strength and volume

Madshus skier Stian Hoelgaard, who has been on the Vasaloppet podium for the past three years, shares his advice on training leading up to the race season. Photo: Stefano Zatta

Madshus skier Stian Hoelgaard shares his advice on training leading up to the race season.

The 27-year-old Norwegian has been racing on the international marathon circuit since 2013. Hoelgaard has been on the Vasaloppet podium for the past three seasons and has won the overall Ski Classics Youth competition several times.

How do you train in the transition period between dryland and race season?
“The transition period often features a mixed bag of weather and conditions. You might be able to find snow but that’s often limited to man-made snow and very short laps. Accordingly, I strongly believe in focusing on quality dryland sessions rather than chasing sketchy early snow. For that reason, I have traveled south to Spain in November several times just to make sure I have great dryland conditions. That said, if you run into pristine early snow conditions, take advantage of it.”

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How much do you train?
“Given that most of the important marathon events don’t happen until after New Year, I try to maintain a focus on volume well into December. That means, I log quite a bit of hours in November.”

How important are the early season races?
“Of course, the first events in the Ski Classics marathon series are important, but the racing continues well into April, so you need a solid base to last through the whole season. So I do big hours in both November and December, but I scale back a little bit prior to the early season races in order to get a small peaking effect for those events.”

What is your favorite late dryland season workout?
“It will have to be 6 x 6 minutes uphill running with poles. That’s a workout where you really get to breathe hard and clean out your engine. You could also do the same workout on roller skis, but I prefer running.”

Read our series on roller ski training

Do you have any advice for masters and junior skiers who might not have a clear idea about what to do when the first snow?
“My best advice is to focus on quality workouts rather than travel for hours to ski on a small loop of man-made snow. Of course, ski races in November and December are fun and spice things up, but they are not critical. Most masters and even top level juniors don’t have their main events until January or later, so there is really no rush to get on snow before Christmas unless its right there and convenient. Also, don’t forget to stay on top of your strength program, and stick with regular strength workouts all through the winter.”

This is Ski Classics 2019
November 30: Pro team prologue, 15km, Livigno, Italy
December 2: Individual prologue, 30km, Livigno, Italy
January 12: Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, 60km, Seefeld, Austria
January 19: La Diagonela, 65km, Zuoz, Switserland
January 27: Marcialonga, 70km, Trentino, Italy
February 2: Toblach-Cortina, 42km, Toblach-Cortina, Italy
February 10: Jizerska, 50km, Bedrichov, Czech Republic
March 3: Vasaloppet, 90km, Sälen-Mora, Sweden
March 10: Engadin Skimarathon, 42km Maloja-S-chanf, Switzerland
March 16: Birkebeiner, 54km, Rena-Lillehammer, Norway
April 6: Reistadløpet 50km, Setermoen-Bardufoss, Norway
April 13: Ylläs-Levi, 70km, Ylläs-Levi, Finland