XC Ski Tips to Put You Over the Top
The white stuff is here in lower Michigan!
(But I hear that 50 miles to the east, it's not.)
I've been skiing twice daily this week. I have to watch out to not get tired. I ski around our yard/park trails in the a.m., then I go out and find a bigger loop after dropping off the shipping in the afternoon. (I'll do a few one-a-days now.)
Here's something that I was lucky to realize, or vibe onto, right away. I could've easily missed it. OK, I'm all excited to get skiing. Skiing is dynamic. The trails aren't in great shape. One could EASILY get into a "hard working" or "trying" mode. But thankfully I stopped myself. And I'd like to warn you, too, in case you're getting carried away.
But here's the thing, the key to XC: RELAX! Keep a loose belly, let it hang. Breathe easy, easy, deep, deep.
When you hang on the poles, let your belly hang. Especially when doublepoling it's easy to let that belly hang and take a deep, relaxed breath.
Regarding technique you want to be crisp and precise. Hit everything right when it's needed and at no other time. This lets you save as much energy as possible and get the most out of each move. Remember, in XC you don't have anything to spare. And it really is about getting out more than you put in. So kick and pole right when your weight is most ready to help you. You kick and pole best that way. That's when it works. You can breathe and relax the rest of the time.
To relax you need to have good posture. So just stand on the ski. And float. If you're not on the ski, you're somewhere else---and you're tense.
I don't know about you, but I can get a bit lost in trying to ski right according to the info that I know. That's fine as training and practice. But really one has to let the energy flow lead. Good technique will save energy. But it does seem that you have to be real fit to use the best technique. For mid-range skiers it seems like a great main goal is to NOT WORK. That involves using a level of technique known as "ride'n'glide." This means doing what you can to get out of your own way. You want to kick, in both classic and skating, then just glide as nice as you can, just hanging there. Relaxed. Standing nice. Usually with what is called a "bone on bone" posture. I just find that I can get into two modes. One where I'm "working working trying trying." And one where I'm resting, floating, economizing, getting out of the way, not interfering. They both have their place.
But, remember, it all starts and ends with relaxing and easy breathing. Then you can go go go without strain, while seeing where you are.