How to balance ski season and ultra-running

  • Creator
  • #58351

    I’m fortunate to live in a place that I can ski as much as I want in the winter and then transition to trail & ultra running in the summer.

    I love trail/ultra running in the summer, but my first love is skiing (specifically ski touring/ski mountaineering). I started running about 3 years ago and in that time have steadily built up my base and run ~10ish 35-40 mile adventure runs. This summer my training peaked around 70mpw. This next summer I have my eye on running my first 100 miler. Late summer seems like the best time for that, but I’d like to do get in early season 50km and midseason 100km as a build up for that.

    What is the best way to balance the ski season with summer goals? Should I use winter a base building and not worry about running? Should I do 20mpw to keep the time on feet? Do some running speed work?

    I understand I’m going to sacrifice running performance as I really focus on skiing, but are there some things I could do to enter running season ready to go?

Posted In: Mountain Running

  • Participant
    Aaron on #58389

    My two cents as a keen layperson with similar context. I try to keep a little base of running through the winter. Say 1 or 2 5km flatish easy runs through the week. Partly as this fits well with work logistics, and partly to keep some basic mileage in the soft tissues. As spring comes I have to think about how much of my april is spent transitioning to running or hammering out those last few big day skis or multiday ski trips. Some years I get lots of april running in and can work up to 20km long runs. Other yrs skiing takes precedence and recovery from weekend skis precludes too much running volume (I think Scott says about 100miles of easy running transition?). Other than this transition conundrum I think ski mountaineering and training is awesome base and ME for running.

    Mariner_9 on #58408

    “are there some things I could do to enter running season ready to go?”

    Do some downhill running in the (spring) transition season to get your legs used to eccentric contractions? I noticed that after a winter of ski touring, this is the aspect of running performance (actually hiking, in my case) that seems to suffer most.

    Jack on #58423

    The biggest problem that can happen with the ski-run transition is athletes build up a large base skiing and get injured when they attempt to immediately replicate the same volume running. Running is much higher impact and engages different muscles, ligaments, and tendons then skiing. I would start by picking a race in the spring and building out my training in the months prior. Based on your training history and conservatively building your mileage from 0, how long would it take you to get to peak? This way you can enjoy November-January, hypothetically, ski touring and slowly start to cut back on your skiing and integrate running. Alternatively, you can maintain a small amount of running throughout the season and effectively reduce how much those tendons and ligaments atrophy.

    Personally, I utilize ski touring every year, even though I am primarily an ultra/mountain runner. Skiing is a great way to build your base and muscular endurance. For a couple months of skiing following the end of my running race season, I drop speed work entirely. An off season from your primary sport can reduce strain on soft tissues and psychological burn out. You’ll come into the spring more ready to embrace training due to the break. If you instead push yourself running in the snow and miss out on skiing, psychologically you set yourself up worse for the spring and summer. Sometimes the best way to reduce strain and stress is by training in fun, engaging ways. Mental and physical stress affects your body very similarly and reducing extraneous stress is one of my main goals in training.

    brianbauer on #60525

    I never stop running workouts during ski season. skiing does not replicate the pounding on muscles and joints experienced during running. run workouts can be easier, but in my opinion its far better to maintain some running every week.

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