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How To Prepare For Årefjällsloppet

With just one week of rest after Birkebeinerrenet, Visma Ski Classics Pro Team skiers will start Årefjällsloppet 104km under challenging weather conditions. We analyze how Pro Tour athletes train, recover, and fuel for the longest race in the calendar, while advising recreational skiers.

Photo: Magnus Östh/Visma Ski Classics

Årefjällsloppet is the longest race on the Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour calendar, with over 100 kilometers. Last year, this event was one of the season’s highlights for many athletes, but this year it will be more challenging, with challenging weather conditions and just one week after Birkebeinerrennet.

During the event press conference, Jenny Grip, Årefjällsloppet Chief of Competition, said: 

“It will be a tough race with many climbs, strong winds, and probably slow tracks.” 

This weekend event will also be open to recreational skiers. While elite athletes are used to this distance or even longer, training for it is a big undertaking for the rest of us, who must balance work, personal life, and training. So, we put together some insights from the Pro Tour athletes about training for this kind of event.

How To Train For Longer Distances

First and foremost, you must get your body used to the number of kilometers you will have to ski during the race. This means training many hours while avoiding over-training. So, training for hours instead of kilometers is important. Your body needs to be used to double pole or ski with kick-wax during hours on race day. It is recommended to do training sessions of four or more hours. If you aim to beat a specific time, you should incorporate these sessions into your weekly plan, with at least two interval sessions. This way, it will be easier to handle the race’s challenge and enjoy the course. 

As Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Charge, said during the event press conference: 

“I am always enjoying the longer races, so I put my mind on it, enjoying the way.”

It is also essential to strengthen the body for such a long skiing period, especially if you are trying to double-pole the entire course. Muscular strength helps endurance, and your body will thank you when you are 5 hours into a race. 

Doing one or two weekly sessions of upper body and core exercises, like pull ups, leg raises, weighted crunches, and dips, will help you improve your form. Remember to focus on strength – a few reps with heavy weights – so you don’t get the extra weight that will make you slower.

Finally, it is important to taper. Tapering is the training technique of peaking 2 – 4 weeks before the race and gradually backing off. It creates the conditions for the body to recover and get glycogen stores refilled. 

Max Novak, Team Ramudden, during the press conference, told ProXCskiing: 

“I had a tough training in the weeks between Vasaloppet and Birkebeiner. Now I just let the form up.” 

How To Recover For The Race

If you have participated in other events, like Vasaloppet or Birkebeinerrennet, you face the same recovery issues as the Pro Tour skiers. But let’s face it, with a much slower recovering capacity.

Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng Eidissen, who just became the first female athlete to win the Birkebeiner without kick-wax, believes that she is recovered and ready for the 104 kilometers challenge on Saturday. 

“I am feeling strong. Birken wasn’t an all-out race, so I recovered fast. But in such a long distance, anything can happen. You drink and do everything right, but you never know,” says Astrid during the press conference.

Also, Emelie Fleten, Team XPND Fuel, believes it is important not to push the body too much, in order to recover, especially not going for too long training sessions. 

“It is also important to eat well after training, not letting the body empty, to recover every day,” says Fleten to ProXCskiing.com. 

And finally, Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, leaves an important piece of advice: 

“It is hard to recover at the end of the season, with races every weekend. We must listen to the body, and it is ok to take a day off if it feels too much.”

Finally, you should eat well during the race so your body does not run out of energy. Drinking regularly, using sports drinks and energy gels. 

“The energy will be very important due to the distance. It will be a hard race, so lots of sports drinks and gels. It is not easy for the stomach to accept food if the pace is too fast,” concludes Johansson Norgren. 

Next up in the Visma Ski Classics is Årefjällsloppet. The 104-kilometer classic race takes place in Sweden on March 26, 2022.

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