How to Train for a Main Event
by Paul Wolf
In any extended feat of endurance, you need strength, balance, agility and flexibility, notes Chris Fellows, director of the North American Ski Training Center. The center offers a seven-day total immersion clinic that is a physical test all by itself. His students need some weeks of "ski-specific training" just to take this advanced class.
Simulation for the prolonged cross-country skiing that Bancroft and Arnesen are up against can be done partly on a ski machine like the NordicTrack. But that's only a small part of the training for such an event.
"Over varying terrains, different stresses will be put on your body, which means there are forces on your joints that you can never simulate [with one activity]," says San Francisco-based personal trainer Randell Allen.
A mix of aerobic activity is helpful, even if it doesn't mimic skiing. Throw in some hiking, stretching and dumbbell work and you have yourself a balanced program, says Allen. Apart from pulling tires, Bancroft and Arnesen run, ski, sail and cycle.
For those who aspire to great feats of endurance, Fellows recommends working with weights. Use lighter weights and do more reps in the beginning of your training. As the event nears, you can add to the poundage and reduce the reps.
If a long hike with a pack is your goal, don't neglect isometric strength. This means holding a weight in one position to give your muscles a prolonged contraction. It will help you simulate the toting you are sure to do during the big event.
Even if you envision a straightforward hike, bounding up and down a short hill will condition you for the unexpected. The real world is not as smooth as a stair climber.
In the 1970s, Olympic long distance runner Jeff Galloway preached a simulation method for marathon training that has become the gold standard. Run throughout the week, but make just one of your runs a long slow one. Increase the distance of your long run each week until you have reached 26 miles or near that distance. Your longest run will come a week or two before the race. Although you won't run at race pace in this final long training effort, your body has now become comfortable with the challenge.
And so too has your mind. Event-specific training is the most important thing you can do for mental preparation, says Osness. If you simulate your event and dedicate yourself to well-rounded conditioning, you won't just be just ready; you'll be more than ready.
Back to main story...