Cross Country skiing

Whey-hey! The cross country skiing season has started in Iceland and despite being rubbish and unable to stop or turn, I am out every night on the forest trails!

I know that Grete Weitz (prob'ly wrong spelling) incorporated X-country skiing into her London Marathon training programme but how? At the moment I'm following the Runners World 10k training programme (the 35 to 45 minute one on this website) and doing X-country skiing on top of it. Which is making me very fit, but knackered, with too many niggling aches and pains for my liking.

Can I replace any of my running sessions (such as '5-7 miles steady') with X-country skiing - and if so, how far or for how long should I ski for?

Thanks! LizzyB



  • Lizzy, I have asked an experienced XC-skier friend of mine about this, and hope to have an answer soon for you.

    Mind you, he is less experienced as a runner!

  • Hi LizzyB,

    Good question - if my grant comes through, I'll be doing the same thing in Norway next year. But at the moment I can't offer any suggestions.


    p.s. so why are you living in Iceland? As half of my academic field is Old Norse, I'm interested in all things concerning Iceland, even though I haven't yet visited!!
  • Minnie - Thank you! That's great! Really looking forward to hearing what your friend thinks.

    Hildegard - In the true style of a liberated 21st century woman I, er ... gave up my job in the UK and followed my husband out here when he got a teaching post at one of the universities here. It's a fantastic place to live, although learning the language is a 'challenge'!
  • Yes, the language is lovely, albeit complex. I suppose the uni is Haskoli Islands? I *must* get over there some time soon!

    Have fun skiing.
  • Hi Lizzy, I'm so jealous, cross country skiing is fantastic. It's also the king of aerobic exercise (I believe elite xcountry skiers in Scandinavia have the best cardiovascular fitness of any endurance athletes) with none of the impact of running so I would say you definitely need to see it as part of your training, not as well as. Do you use an HRM? If so, you could use that to make sure you ski at an equivalent effort you would run at.
    No more practical suggestions as sadly there's never enough snow around here... Bet you'll be super fit by the end of the winter though.
  • Hi Lizzie

    My friend agrees with Laura and said an HRM is the way forward with regard to comparing running and XC skiing, because it all depends on what style you do, and how fast you ski.

    I love XC skiing, but always seem to have a fall and wreck my knees when I do it...


  • Thanks everyone. I will try with HRM tonight and report back!

    I fall over all the time, but so far my knees have escaped intact. Then again, I only started X-Country skiing two weeks ago so there's plenty of time for disaster!
  • Wore HRM!

    'Peaked' at 171 ('running' uphill on the second circuit - putting a big effort in). Averaged 141, but when on the flat was doing around 130 to 140. I wore Mr B's HRM which can be downloaded into a PC (my HRM is a bit more basic) and the printout showed that my heart rate shot up when going downhill and doing the two sharp corners on the circuit - no effort, just fear!!!!

    So ... still not sure what I can deduce from all this. My technique (or lack of it) means that I don't have the ability to put lots of effort in without falling over, so for the time being the skiing is prob'ly equivalent to a 'steady/slow' run (with efforts cos of the hills!).

    Thanks for your help everyone.

    PS Only fell over once last night - and that was when I was standing still! Maybe I'm improving (still get overtaken by 70 year olds though ... just like when I'm running).

  • Hi Lizzy

    I've done XC skiing in Switzerland where they start to learn as soon as they can walk. Grr.

    But I think it's worse to be overtaken by old Swiss blokes. Hmm, and they all seem to wear pink lycra body suits, yum, do you think they choose pink, or it was the last colour left in the shop?!!!

  • Hi Minnie - They wear lycra out here too. I saw bright yellow shiny tights on some poor bloke last night. And they wear pastel
    coloured bumbags. And most of the skis (even the new ones) rejoice in lovely 1980s colour schemes - white with blue, pink and yellow logos. It really is the sport that fashion forgot.

    I managed to find some (second hand) skis in black. But my poles (new!) are pink and white. Lovely ...
  • You're right there! Most of my kit is for winter running, so I tend to stick to darker colours (more flattering...) but judging by some of the nasty colour schemes this "season" (as if runners needed their kit to be fashionable!), I'll have to make sure that my old stuff doesn't wear out.

    The skis we used in Switzerland were lurid to say the least!

    Let me know how it's going for you, though, not with adapting to the colours (!), but with the skiing.

  • Boo. Temperature suddenly shot up on Friday. Snow has turned to thick slush. Roads, pavements and tracks have become wet lumpy ice.

    Tried to go for a run on Sunday. Came back after 25 minutes slithering on ice. Today doesn't look much better.

    Think it's bye bye to cross country skiing until the next lot of snow dumps on us - maybe later this month?
  • Seems like the skiiers in Norway had much better fashion sense - just an all-in-one snow suit type thing (loose, not at all lycra-like!) that ends below the knees, with long woolen skiing socks. The only colours are red or navy blue. But I got to wear a slightly silly hat, again all wool, with a lovely pastel pattern.
  • Hi Lizzy, shame about the snow/ice. What sort of exercise will you do till it snows again?
  • Hi Minnie. Well, it's back to running again! I was warned about thawing snow - everyone kept telling me how miserable life was when a thaw set in and I thought they were exaggerating ... well ... I managed a 25 minute run on Sunday, and the same on Monday. The roads and pavements were sheet ice, and where there was still snow it was ankle deep, soaking wet and freezing. I spent more time either standing still on pack ice, slowly sliding towards (not really in control) vehicles or flat on my back/face. Even fell shoes made no difference! Talking of out of control vehicles, I managed to send our jeep sideways down a hill as well on Sunday - whoops. Now that got the adreneline going (and it certainly scared a few pedestrians).

    But today nearly all the snow has gone and after sliding along a few suburban roads I managed to find some ice- and snow-free roads and did an eight miler (with efforts to make up for a weekend of sloth) in the sun. It was SO good to be out running again.

    PS I've just got a cross country skiing book out of the library - the bloke on the cover is wearing an all-in-one lycra bodysuit - shiny blue -euch!

  • Hi Lizzy,

    How did you manage to find a forest trail in Iceland? I didn't even know they had trees there! But seriously, cross country skiing is brilliant exercise, because it exercises all major muscle groups fairly evenly - unlike running which tends to ignore the upper body pretty much. I can see your point about learning to ski as an adult - it's not an easy thing to do and I can't offer you any advice either, having learnt to ski when I was a nipper...
  • Tep - D'you want to know an Icelandic joke?

    Q: What do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest

    A: Stand up!

    We do have trees here, at least in the north (where I live) cos of the warm summers ... my town has its own forest, of which it is inordinately(sp) proud. Back in the UK we'd call it a 'small wood' though ...but it has a network of walking/running trails, which are groomed daily in the winter to make X-country trails. There's also a really long X-xountry track up on the mountains in the ski area, but that hasn't opened yet.

    I am v. jealous that you learn't to ski as a kid. All the young 'uns here learn pre-school here, and find it as easy as walking!
  • I'll remember that joke!
    That's the thing, the older we get the more difficult it is to learn stuff. But I'm sure you'll still benefit from the exertion. I've actually been planning to do a 50K cross-country event in Finland this winter. I wonder if we'd get a group of cross country skiing runners together...
  • Tep - What are X-country skiing events like? Are they like running races where you'll have people who are brilliant, and people who can hardly manage the distance, all running together? Or are they full of frighteningly fit lycra clad skiiers, all competing for the top place? Just curious, mind.
  • Err... I don't know, that's why I want to do one! I would imagine that in general they're very much like running events - except you ski. The one I'm planning to do seems to have two categories: "competitive" (70K for men and 40K for women) and "leisure" (20K, 40K and 70K). And yes, I would imagine tastefully tailored lycra should feature heavily... Maybe I could wear my cycling gear?
  • Lizzy/Tep

    I've done the Engadin Ski Marathon in Switzerland twice. Both times it was great fun as we weren't "competing". Take a back pack with some refreshments, slap on the shades and sunblock and off you go!

    The event is a 42km race, and the lycra clad winners usually finish in just under 1.5 hours (!) and the plodders like me do it in about 4-6 hours (more like 6 for me...). But the locals are great supporters, with lots of "Hup! Hup! Hup!" and small children handing out sweets to keep you going.

    Try this site for member races of the World Loppet. There are sometimes shorter races attached to the marathon distance ones.


  • thanks Minnie - just found a X-country skiing race in Iceland in May - plenty of time to practice! I'm getting excited already!
  • That's great! Keep us updated on your progress.

    Plenty of time to make sure you get the right clothes as well...!
  • Mmm, quite fancy an orange all in one lycra bodysuit with yellow detail. Or perhaps I should dig out my 80s aerobics gear and go for a pink and blue ensemble?
  • Definitely, and don't forget those leg warmers.

    Fame! I'm gonna live forever! etc etc...

  • Leg warmers... Oh no, it's all coming back to me now!
  • Tep, you didn't have leg warmers, did you?!
  • No, but I did - grey and yellow. And a grey rah rah skirt.

    Leg warmers - a fashion saviour for girls with thick ankles. Bring them back!
  • I didn't, but from what Lizzy's saying, I knew a lot of girls who must've had thick ankles...
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