Cross-country skiing has been one of the most popular winter recreational disciplines for many years. However, it is a misconception to think that it is an easy discipline, where you just 'walk' a bit with your skis on a cross-country track.
The fact that cross-country skiing is an extremely strenuous and demanding discipline that requires a high level of fitness is loudly demonstrated by the fact that cross-country skiers have on average a higher VO2 max than cyclists, who are known to regularly undertake training specifically aimed at increasing their VO2 max.
However, as with all sporting activities, cross-country skiing needs to be approached in a deliberate and gradual manner. Endless running without the right structure will only lead to fatigue without any real effect.
That's why we've put together an 8-week cross-country training plan to help you raise your fitness level and become a better cross-country skier. And you'll also benefit from improved form at the start of the summer season, because you won't be starting from scratch.
Cross-country skiing equipment
Cross-country skiing requires certain equipment, and unfortunately you can't do without it. The most obvious piece of equipment is skis. These are available in two versions, adapted to the individual running technique. You can choose between skis for skating technique and skis for classic technique.
Special boots are also required to allow the skis to be strapped on. Again, there are two versions, each adapted to its own technique. Fortunately for recreational skiers, there are also so-called touring boots which allow both techniques.
And don't forget your cross-country ski poles. These do not vary in characteristics according to technique, but unfortunately each technique requires a different length of poles. The classic technique requires longer poles (body height x 1.12), the skating technique slightly shorter (body height x 1.06).
Last but not least, you need to equip yourself. We recommend:
- comfortable pants that won't hinder your running
- warm upper garments that allow you to take off layers
- thin gloves
- a thinner beanie or headband
- (sports) sunglasses, in case of a sunny day
Cross-country skiing nutrition
When it comes to winter sports, we often forget about proper nutrition and hydration. The latter in particular is neglected by most athletes, as the cold reduces the feeling of thirst, but at the same time we sweat less, thus losing another 'sensor' that usually alerts us to hydration.
So in winter you need to pay even more attention to adequate energy and fluid intake. The body uses more energy because of the cold, and this needs to be replaced during exercise. The easiest way to do this is with an energy gel like 4Energy Gel, but many people prefer the tasty 4Energy Bar.
There are several ways to stay hydrated, but the main goal is to keep your electrolytes up. So tea is a good choice to warm you up on cold days, but it doesn't contain electrolytes and is not the best way to hydrate from that perspective.
It is much better to choose an isotonic drink that provides you with electrolytes and carbohydrates. This kills two birds with one stone. If you don't want carbohydrates in your drink, you can choose Zero Drink, which only provides you with electrolytes.
Tip: Adding electrolytes to water lowers the temperature at which it freezes. This ensures that your water doesn't freeze in the cold.
You can read more about nutrition for cross-country skiing in our blog.