This is a simple workout that won't wear you out, but should pay back nicely if done regularly. It's designed to improve your classic stride by focusing on your ski walking technique. It will help you lengthen your stride and build a powerful "snappy" kick. The only prerequisite is some experience ski walking. Oh yes, and the ability to count to about 50. Don't laugh, you will probably find the counting part hardest!
Find a hill that has a gentle to moderate slope, nothing too steep you should err on the gentle side. Mark off a section of the hill about 50m long. On a road just use the distance between telephone poles.
Warm up with a short run, then some easy ski walking between the poles a few times until you are feeling loose and powerful. This is ski walking, not ski bounding so you keep one foot on the ground at all times. Here's what it should look like...
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To begin with, ski walk from one pole to the next and just to make it a bit tricky, count every stride you take! Remember this number, it's important: your goal from then on is to reduce the number of strides it takes you on the next 5 trips up the hill.
Generaly you should aim to improve by 1-2 strides from the first to the last repeat. How? We use a progression of key points, and focus on one at a time on successive trips up the hill. They're easy to remember since they start at the nose and go to the toes.
|Nose: Lean into the hill. (Don't bend at the waist!)|
|Hips: Loose, rotating forward as the leg drives through. (Ladies that's Tom's bum.)|
|Knee: Drive it forward quickly.|
|Ankles: Flexed forward to achieve lean and apply a forceful kick.|
|Feet: Land on the heel push hard off the ball!|
One thing to remember is that you should not push hard with your leg at the end of the stride. If you tried that on skis your wax would slip, but it's a common mistake when ski striding. The kick starts early, and the power should be applied when the bodyweight is over the “kick zone” in one motion starting from heel and finishing with a snappy push off the ball of foot.
Notice I've avoided to mention what you do with your arms? They're important too. Once you are feeling comfortable with your stride, you can start to focus on them for a few extra trips up the hill. You should be swinging them just like you have poles in your hand. Reach forward (not up) so your arm is comfortably extended but not straight. "Pole" by swinging your arm down as if driving the pole into the ground, and finish with your arm extended straight down and slightly back, not bent at the elbow. Recover it quickly by reaching forward. In classic skiing, you'll find that your tempo is controlled by how fast you recover your arms. Also avoid the mistake of swinging your arms across the body, doing this often points to a weakness in balance.
You can make this a bit harder too. Once you do 5x ski walking do 5x ski striding (bounding), again focussing on cutting down your strides each time. Concentrate on the same key points while striding. Remember though that this isn't a workout to tire yourself out, it's about improving your stride.
We do this workout once a week at the hill at Mooney's Bay, much to the bewilderment of many passers by.