In three parts, Swedish ski profile Erik Wickström shares tips and tricks on how to best prepare for the Nordenskiöldsloppet. The first part is about mental strategies during a long competition, followed by training advises and eventually energy intake. Last Spring, Erik double-poled 439 km in 24 hours. That’s farther than anyone else has skied in a day before. Erik is an expert in coaching amateurs with limited time for training. He just published a book about smart endurance training on the Swedish market.

Part 2: Training

To ski Vasaloppet is a big challenge for most people. To ski more than twice as long therefore demands good preparations. Here are some tips and tricks on how to think in terms of training for the Nordenskiöldsloppet.

When I’m out on lectures or writing about training for long distance skiing for amateurs, I often spend a lot of time on explaining why we should not just copy the elite. Elite skiers train an incredible amount, have other requirements and just live another life than amateurs.

It’s impossible to train hard most of the time if you train as much as for example Lina Korsgren or John Kristian Dahl. The training would take too hard on the body. An amateur trains much less in comparison and as a consequence, one has to think differently. As the total amount of training is going down, the average training effort needs to go up. Generally one could say that the less training the higher the share of interval trainings and (test) races should be – even the speed for long distance trainings should be adapted accordingly.

Prioritize “semi-hard” training

I believe that many amateurs, who already have gotten far with their training, can get a lot more out of this zone. In Swedish we call this “mellanmjölksträning” as the milk that is neither fat nor skimmed but something in between. Training happens to be quite polarized for those who have learned to train in different speeds. Often it’s either very long, calm trainings or very short and hard intervals. Out of my own experience I can tell that this if far from ideal for an amateur that likes to focus on long distance races.

When training for the Nordenskiöldsloppet it is especially important to prioritize training with a semi-hard intensity of around 80% of your maximal pulse. You’re not supposed to become good at skiing for a short and intense time and not for a long but low intense time either. Instead you want to be good at skiing semi-intense for a long time. A very long time actually. Your average pulse rate presumably is going to be between 70-80% during Nordenskiöldsloppet, depending on how much time you want to take.

035fmo160410_6455Participants during Nordenskiöldsloppet 2016. Foto: Magnus Östh

Long distance training as of New Year

If you’re used to train for Vasaloppet or other long distance races then I don’t think you need to adjust your training too much before the end of the year. That’s when snow usually arrives or you at least get access to some artificial snow.

Nordenskiöldsloppet starts on April 15 and I think that you from January to March should aim for two real long distance trainings twice a month. Ideally between 4 to 6 hours and not too calm. More than 6 hours is rarely necessary and tends not to give that much. I don’t think either you should train at nighttime, even though you will probably be skiing during darkness.

Prioritize this kind of trainings throughout winter. From both my own experiences and coaching amateurs I can tell that long distance trainings are more important before races such as Nordenskiöldsloppet than the total training amount.

The training layout described above is exactly how I prepared myself before double-poling for 439 km in 24 hours last spring. It’s also what I’m going to do for this year’s Nordenskiöldsloppet. My average training amount on an annual basis is about 7 hours per week and I believe that this layout fits most amateurs going for the world’s longest skiing race.


Many of you surely will ski Vasaloppet. I think one should not try to continue training right away like nothing has happened on the first Sunday in March. I assume Vasaloppet has been an important goal so better give your body and mind a rest for a week afterwards (or do at least no hard trainings) before you start skiing again. That will improve your chances to be fully charged again when you stand on the starting line on April 15.

Erik Wickström works as lecturer, skiing instructor, personal trainer, writer and photographer. He’s also the editor in chief for the magazine Vasalöparen. He wrote well-appreciated books: Längdskidåkning för dig, 2013 (cross-country skiing for you) and Smart konditionsträning, 2016 (smart endurance training).

In April 2016 he double-poled 439 km – farther than anyone else has skied in 24 hours before him – on a 412 m long track in Vålådalen.

Erik’s area of expertise is training optimization for amateurs and has in recent years become a popular coach and lecturer. Partly because he lives a family live with job and house himself and doesn’t have the time to train and rest as the professionals do. Still, he got very far in his career as an athlete.

Read more on: