November can be a frustrating month. The weather’s usually too cool for biking and there’s limited snow for skiing. Weather goes from warm to cool to freezing, with lots of annoying precipitation in between. Days are short, and it gets dark quickly. For cross country skiers, it’s a challenge to find ways to stay in shape while waiting for snow.
Some diehard Nordics travel to places with early snow like British Columbia’s Silver Star or Scandinavian countries. Many bike when it’s warm, run or hike when it’s not, or take up roller blading or roller skiing.
Nordic striding keeps skiers in shape as they use their ski poles to push off while bounding up hills. Other frustrated skiers will take out a gym or pool membership to maintain fitness while waiting for the flakes to fall.
If it’s cold enough and the lakes freeze, some of us will go Nordic skating. Others will cross over into Alpine skiing to get their snow fix. We all have to practice patience and keep ourselves fit so we’ll be ready when the ground turns white and we can get out on our skinny skis.
For Nordic racers, early season training is crucial for a successful ski season. They can’t wait for snow. When it arrives, they have to be race-ready.
Local high school racers have been out on their roller skis practicing since September and doing their “dryland” training exercises, under the direction of the Kennett High School Nordic team’s coach, Steve Vosburgh.
When they have their first “official” practice on Monday, Dec. 9, they’ll be raring to go. Depending on the snow conditions at that time, they’ll be either continuing with dryland exercises, running, or roller skiing, or, if they’re lucky, training on snow.
Last year, when I observed the Nordic team practice, there was enough snow on the playing fields for some skiing. But, in years before, the ground was bare — it was “dryland” training time.
After a warmup run down and back up Eagles’ Way, Coach Vosburgh had them do sprints, “burpees,” “flamingos,” lunges, forward and backwards jumps, and the “karaoke side step” to build their stamina, flexibility and balance.
Steve then divided the group into two groups. Steve’s roller skiing group spent the rest of practice roller skiing around the building, practicing different skate-ski moves. The second group went with Steve’s assistant, Scott Lajoie, to practice striding with poles up Pine Hill, mimicking the diagonal style.
The almost two-hour practice exhausted me, but the students seemed to enjoy it. I’m sure they prefer training on snow, but that’ll have to wait for Mother Nature’s cooperation.
For the rest of us frustrated skiers, we’ll keep going with whatever our dryland version of exercise is until we get enough snow to ski on with our cross-country skis. If you want some ideas of exercises and equipment you can use to practice Nordic techniques and strengthen those cross country muscles, I’ve listed some resources below:
Dryland Exercises: There are many online sources, You-Tube videos, and books to check out. Here are a few:
The Concord Carlisle High School in Concord, Mass., has a website with many suggestions here for dryland exercises, including videos of the Concord Carlisle Nordic Ski Team getting ready for ski season, at tinyurl.com/t8rkc5h.
Explore Magazine has suggestions for workouts for cross-country skiers at tinyurl.com/wr5bvyb.