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Know where you're starting from

Mon, Jun  24, 2013 - By Suzanne Hudson

Know Where You’re Starting From!

Over the past month, skiers and biathletes around the world have been getting back to training. For many of those at the upper levels, this means a round of testing. It might be VOmax testing on a treadmill or SkiErg, strength testing of various sorts, uphill runs, double pole rollerski time trials—there’s a wide variety, but the important point is that it makes good sense to test at the beginning of the training year so that you have a baseline from which to measure your progress.

Most of us don’t have ready access to a rollerski treadmill, or a VOmax lab, so we find other ways to test ourselves. Ideally, the test(s) should be repeatable and accurately measurable, so that results can be compared from one time to another and offer meaningful guidance.

Kikkan Randall training on Concept2 SkiErgIf you have access to a SkiErg, it’s a good option testing option because it doesn’t have the innate variability of most outdoor tests. And the Performance Monitor is self-calibrating so tests can also be compared from one SkiErg to another. Compare your results with a friend in Europe, or across the US.

Here are some test distances you might consider using in your own testing protocol. Several of these are also included in the Concept2 Online Ranking, and SkiErg Performance Series, so you can see how you stack up there as well.

Speed/Power: 30 seconds
Sprint: 1000m
Distance: 2000m
Distance: 5000m

…and Make Sure You Get Where You Want to Go

The one kind of training that we all hope to avoid is rehab, but sometimes it is unavoidable, whether due to overuse or accidental injury. The challenge becomes finding good training activities that can still be done without hindering the recovery of the injured body part. Recovery from injury demands patience, determination and creativity. On the bright side, these are all good attributes to develop and you may find new training modalities that you truly enjoy. And a lower body injury may help you make significant gains in upper body strength and power, and vice versa. But enough of the optimism! Injuries are not something any skier wants to deal with.

We’ve heard from a number of skiers who have found that the SkiErg can be a really helpful training tool during the rehab period for lower body injuries (see Kikkan Randall's Team USA blog article about her training program this year. That's Kikkan in the photo above). Pull up a stool, or spin bike, and you can do any kind of workout you want: from intervals to distance. Or, if you can stand but can’t bend your knees, you can ski that way as well. Ideally, through your rehab period, you’ll be able to progress from seated to straight-leg standing to full use of your legs.

We sincerely hope that it is not injury that introduces you to the SkiErg, but if it is, we hope you find it helpful and we wish you a speedy recovery!