Friday, March 8, 2019 - 21:22


Share article

By Fabio Svaizer (intro by Teemu Virtanen)

Doing any endurance sport is no walk in the park as you have to spend some hours building up your shape and facing the "pleasure of pain". But if you find the right spirit and motivation and make yourself train the needed hours, you will be delighted and filled with joy when crossing a finish line in any given long distance ski race. Engadin Skimarathon is on Sunday, and in this article a well-known Swiss cross-country skier gives you some advice on how to get ready for the race and generally train for long distance skiing. This piece appeared first in German on the Red Bull site in Switzerland. Enjoy the tips and get ready for this Sunday or whatever your next adventure might be.

But before you start devouring the teachings of the article below, let's take a quick look at the results of the Engadin night sprint race that took place tonight:

Elite Ladies 
 1   Meier Alina    Davos (GR)
 2   Alnaes Anikken Gjerde   NOR
 3   Wieser Fabiana    Sent (GR)

Elite Men
 1   Bakkene Eivind    NOR
 2   Jay Renaud    FRA
 3   Arnault Clement    FRA


It’s again marathon week in the Engadin. From basic conditioning to race day, here’s a guide on what’s important to successfully prepare for 42,195 fast kilometers on snow (incl. Some last minute tips for the untrained).

Having been a major force in the Swiss cross-country ski team for years, Curdin Perl knows how the wind blows. At home in the Upper Engadin he nowadays passes his World Cup experience on to ambitious amateurs. Guidance for a determined preparation to a ski marathon of course is a more than logical part of his coaching offer. This is the real deal:

  • „Skiers are made in summer“, starts Perl off with, quoting an old wisdom of the sport. This means in other words: Early conditioning is important. „The advantage of cross-country skiing is that getting these basics not necessarily needs to be skiing specific. You’ll benefit from anything you do”, the 34-year-old explains. So jump on your bike or lace your running shoes and off you go.
  • Getting in shape is a multi-stage rocket. Once the initial homework is done, the next phase on the way to top form awaits: Training intervals to conquer the higher pulse zones. Sounds tough, is tough – but no gain without pain, sorry!
  • Upon arrival of the first snowflakes in November or December it’s time for a technique check and to drill some skills. Professional help is highly recommended so book an intensive course or a training camp. Nobody ever wanted to work the tracks in the same slow gear throughout a whole winter, right?
  • Once the basics are in place, spending as much time on snow as possible is crucial. Pros often log up to 800 training hours over the year. That’s why another additional exercise or two surely won’t harm an amateur skier.
  • To sum it all up, Curdin mentions another classical saying: „Racing is the best training!” There’s nothing more to add other than that there’s plenty of races taking place to test shape or race tactics ahead of the big goal of the season.

With the marathon near at hand, one should stop experimenting with gear or nutrition says Judith Wyder. The former world-class orienteering athlete from Switzerland currently is becoming a cross-country ski instructor after she’s been part of the regional ski team throughout her youth. „New things should always be tested well ahead”, says the Bernese and continues: „If you only get to think of something just before a race, it most probably won’t help. It’s far more important to get up early on competition day so you don’t run short of time.” Always calculate some extra minutes right before start for the mandatory stop at the toilet where the queue might be long.

When Judith is racing herself, she’s always having the exactly same breakfast: „Just eat normal and what you’re used to”, is her advice. During the warm-up on site the 30-year-old is not only bringing her body up to speed but always tries to soak in the atmosphere too: „Warming up is also about getting into the right mood, a mix of anticipation and respect of what’s about to come.”

Good luck!

PS: Curdin Perl’s last minute tips in case of too little training

  1. Use the waxing service so at least your skis go fast.
  2. Even with short notice a skiing lesson will improve your technique and help you to save energy along the racetrack.
  3. Don’t try to catch up on missed training in the last minute. You will use all your power during the competition.

Share article