I've been watching (again) the "Successful Cross Country Coaching" DVD made by CXC Skiing of the 2009 Nationals Coaches Education Conference. The DVDs have some great technique videos and training advice.
A particular training nugget comes from a presentation by H.C. Holmberg (Mid Sweden University and Sweden Winter Sports Research Centre) called "Sprint in Cross Country Skiing". This presentation talks about the differences in training and physiology between sprint and distance skiers. One of his research efforts found that doing 20 second doublepole intervals had three positive effects:
Skiers in the study went all out for 20 seconds, then rested for 100 seconds. Intervals were repeated three times a week for 6 weeks.
H.C. also said that unlike distance skiers who do long intervals up hills, sprinters can effectively use the flats for intervals.
20 seconds doublepole intervals? On flats? What a great workout that anyone with rollerskis can perform!
Last November, I pulled out my helmet light, found a nice section of trail, warmed up for 15 minutes, then did 10 sets of 20 second all-out doublepole intervals followed by 100 seconds of rest. That's starting a new interval every two minutes. Turns out I can pretty consistently do 28 doubelpoles in 20 seconds from a slightly rolling start. I carefully watched my technique - I wanted to be fast but with good technique.
This is a great workout for an "easy" day. Only 200 seconds (3:20) are spent going hard. With a 15 minute warmup and 10 minute warm down, you can be finished in 45 minutes. For those of us short on time, this is a great focused training session with proven results.
I did find that my abs were sore the next two days from the intensity of the workout.
(Don't have the DVD series? Here's the 6.25 MB PDF of H.C. Holmberg's "Sprint in Cross Country Skiing" Powerpoint slides. Slide 26 shows the results from this particular research paper. The DVD is much better because Holmberg adds a lot of texture to his slides).