Friday, August 28, 2009

The Darkness of Ignorance

With so few people participating in ski mountaineering competitions in the US, there is essentially no published information on training for the sport. Last year I asked Steve Romeo, publisher of and one of the best randonee racers in the US, if he had any training suggestions for rando racing.

His answer was fairly simple. In summary: let your recreational backcountry skiing be your over-distance training and do some intervals for speed. I asked if he did any resistance training. Steve said, "only in the very early season." And the only exercise he did was to put on a pack full of weight and step up onto a stair.

Steve was kind enough to publicly ask on his blog for me if anyone had any workout suggestions for a knowledge hungry racer like myself. The responses were comically useless. It's safe to say that people suggesting massive amounts of push-ups have no experience with ski mountaineering racing. There were a few people that seemed to be selling their own copyrighted workout programs. One told me that if I did his program I would become "ripped in no time." Referring to his program, another ordered me to, "Learn it. Live it. Love it." For real.

Part of the purpose of this blog is to document what I'm doing to train and share what works and what doesn't. I want to accumulate a body of workouts for people to reference and to collect the wisdom that racers have collected with their successes and triumphs. Hopefully we'll find some Europeans to share. They certainly have training programs entirely specified for randonee racing.

For now, lets see if any Americans will share with us. If you have ever finished in the top ten at the National Championships in Jackson, Wyoming, these questions are directed at you. What sports do you borrow workout programs from? By programs I mean pre-season and season-long outlines for training. Marathoning and nordic skiing seem to be the most logical. What are the benefits and drawbacks from taking workout programs from these sports? Most racers that I've informally asked about training have told me that they like trail running and scrambling up peaks in the autumn to get ready to race. That's what I had been doing, but the most educated people I've met in sports science have told me that those things will only benefit a rando racer if done sparingly.

Successful racers, help pull the rest of us out of the darkness of ignorance.


  1. Hi Jon,

    I have been skimo racing in NZ and also one season in France over the last few years and am by no means a great racer, however, I have been lucky the past two (NZ) winters to have a few of the different top Euro racers spend some time in NZ and gained a few tips...

    First, they all do speed workouts a couple of times a week, changing the speed and interval distance regularly, from between sets of 30sec to 6mins or the odd 20-25 min speed strait (once a month). Being in NZ for their off season, they could do these on the snow, but also did some running or on the bike.

    These days were interspersed by longer slower days, but interestingly, they all said they rarely did individual trainings sessions of longer than 3 hours, but sometimes did 2 hrs in the morning and another hour in the evening...

    Mostly they also all did some sort of resistance training... like a daily or few times a week 10-30min core workout, followed with press ups, tricep lifts...

    During the season, they did less long days, but more races... it seems though, that every racer has a different program and the hours of training/week vary also.

    This may not shed any more light than what you already know, but I have found it helpful and am trying to put it into practice for the 2010 Andorra world champs. One other thing I got from the racers that stayed with us was eating copious amounts of fruit and vege, more than I ever ate before, which should help I hope with the body fat levels leading into racing season...


  2. Thanks, Jane! It's good to know that our ideas and training are not that different from the best.

    Good luck in Andorra! Hopefully I'll see you there.