Behind the scenes: How do World Cup racers train?

Behind the scenes: How do World Cup racers train?

Turbo junior Helene Marie Fossesholm (NOR) keeps it simple: “I don’t use a heart rate monitor”

After posting an impressive third place in the 30-kilometer classic race at the Norwegian senior national championships in January, routinely pushing top-10-results at the World Cup, and taking home two gold medals at the 2020 FIS Junior Nordic World Championships this winter, the talented 19-year-old was named to the Norwegian elite national team (A-Team) for the 2020-21 season.

Madshus caught up with Fossesholm at the fall training camp with the national team. The theme of the camp was intensity, and the racers did five intensity workouts back to back in four days. Fossesholm did them all entirely based on feel, rather than numbers from a heart rate monitor.

“I know it’s a bit unconventional, but doing interval workouts and intensity training just based on feel works well for me. I don’t use heart rate or a watt meter when I’m on my bike either,” says Fossesholm, referring also to the other sport she pursues at the international level: mountain biking.

Fossesholm says training without a heart rate monitor or a watt meter is a carefully considered decision. To her, the numbers on a display are more distracting than useful.

“I have never used a heart rate monitor, and I think that has given me a better feel for where I’m at and how my body is responding to the training loads. I constantly have to listen to my body, and I think those signals are more important than what the numbers on a watch say,” she explains, adding that numbers and heart rates are easily influenced by external factors.

“Because I’m used to never relying on a heart rate monitor, I have developed a good feel for when I need to back off, when I can keep pushing, and where my limits are,” she says.

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Helene Marie Fossesholm during the roller ski race at Toppidrettsveka 2020. Photo: Toppidrettsveka

Not only has paying such keen attention to her body given Fossesholm more confidence both in training and racing, but it also simplifies her day to day workouts.

“I just go as hard as I can based on the intensity level I have decided on for the workout. So far, that works great for me, so I will stick to that,” she says.

However, Fossesholm does use a heart rate monitor from time to time, mostly for the entertainment value.

“I sometimes use a heart rate monitor when I do treadmill runs, but I don’t put any stock in the numbers. I believe in the choice I’ve made to not rely on gadgets, and that’s the most important part. You can waste a lot of energy on second-guessing,” she says.

For Fossesholm and her fellow national team skiers, the first races of the season will be the national FIS season opener events at Beitostølen (NOR) on November 20-22.

Curious about the equipment the Madshus skiers will race on this season?  Check out the full line of the all-new Madshus Redline 3.0

Helene Fossesholm at the FIS Season Opener in Beitostølen (NOR) in November 2019. Photo: Fjellfanten