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Season of David - Part VI
By:  David Zylberberg   (2003/06/03)

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The followingis the first in a series of weekly articles by the "infamous" David Zylberberg, one of the original members of XC Ottawa. He is the writer of numerous amusing and sometimes controversial articles which have been the subject of much discussion within the Canadian cross-country racing community over the last 8 months. While David does not possess an advanced degree in physiology or sports science, hopefully the articles will be the source of much entertainment while you are putting off work, school, or chores. David's articles will be candid and will not be censored by the editors of XC Ottawa. (At least not usually) Please address your comments and questions directly to David.

The beginning of June is the most common time in the year for skiers to begin rollerskiing. Since I have merely been training fairly hard and haven't done anything worth writing about, I thought it would be a good time to give my thoughts and suggestions for rollerskiing.

Rollerskiing is a very useful training method for serioius skiers but is also one that skiers must be conscious of using effectively. It has many uses but is often missused, which leads to wasted effort and technical impediments. The most important thing is that every rollerski session must have a specific purpose and should focus on making certain improvements. Sometimes this means doing technique drills or videotaping technique in order improve it. Sometimes this means doing interval workouts in order to maximize the specificity of the benefits (though this is generally more common later in the year). Often this means focussing on specific strength in which one skates without poles, double poles or does some arms only variation in order to improve strength, power and muscular endurance in a ski-specific fashion.

Skate rollerskiing is fairly similar to skiing on snow and can be done with few technical limitations. It is the more common method of rollerskiing among members of XCOTTAWA. I find it useful to include some legs only rollerskiing during all skating workouts during the summer. One way to do this is to take off the poles and ski for half an hour though this often lacks focus. Rather, I would suggest doing intervals in which the one skiis without poles at a slightly higher intensity than normal (still easy distance pace). One example would be doing 5 x 5 minutes without poles, with a minute of rest in between. These can either be done uphill or in rolling terrain. The advantage of intervals is that focus is better maintained. Another skate rollerskiing workout involves finding a short hill (30-60 seconds) and doing 10 or so repeats legs only at a similar pace to the longer ones. If doing this workout, also do some repeats that are arms only or double poling. It is important to remember when skating without poles to concentrate on proper leg motion and pre-loading. Your legs will burn if doing it properly but the pain subsides quickly after the interval.

Classic rollerskiing is more complicated than skating and should be done with caution. Since the kick is perfect on rollerskiis, diagonal striding will generally lead to technical problems and should be avoided. This means that classic rollerskiing tends to emphasize the upper body, which can make it an effective workout to develop that facet of skiing. The same workouts that I mentioned above work well for double poling while on classic rollerskiis but one should never do legs only classic rollerskiing. When double poling be careful to still come down over the poles and hit the ground hard as this is an important element to skiing properly.

I should also mention a few general safety concerns. If in Ottawa, only rollerski on closed parkways or bicycle paths. Since it is illegal to rollerski on an open parkway in Gatineau Park, I would advise against it. If you are in other locations, find a place with limited traffic, good pavement and a shortage of stop signs or red lights, since it is very hard to stop on rollerskiis. A paved shoulder is useful but you can do without if the traffic is light. It is a good idea to think through all the stop signs on your route to make sure that you can safely go through them whatever the traffic. Generally if common sense is used in picking a safe route there should be few problems. Finally, always wear a helmet since it does not impede the workout and can prevent brain damage in case of a crash.

 
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