Olympic Ski Skater discloses training plan

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  • #63282


    I thought this would be of interest to the UA community (and particularly the coaches). I recall Scott mentioning on one of the webcasts with Sam Naney that he got the idea for the ME workouts from olympic ski skaters as well.

    Nils van der Poel (who won the Olympic gold medal recently in the 10k and 5k speed skating events) has disclosed his previous 33 months of training leading up to the Olympics this year. The link can be found here: https://www.howtoskate.se/

    Some key highlights that I think will be very relatable for the UA community:

    – Nils spent most of the period (May 2019 to August 2020) completely abstaining from competition so that he could:

    “…instead aim my powers at developing a strong aerobic base that enabled me to, later on, perform more high intensity work than ever before. The physical ability that enabled my success was a very strong aerobic base.”

    – The ‘General training idea’ (page 6) basically reiterates what Scott Johnston has said previously: “Specificity is king”. Nils spent most of his training aiming to accomplish a particular goal at the Games i.e. (1) build the capacity to skate 30″ laps and (2) recover extremely quickly so he could skate 30″ as much as possible. Another great quote:

    “All training sessions are performed at the expense of other, more efficient, training sessions, or at the expense of recovery after these sessions. My point isn’t that stretching is useless. If you need to stretch then go ahead and bend over. But do not fool yourself; do not drop hours from the essential sessions in order to perform something that sounds cool or is easy.” (N.B. he does later look back and say that he would have incorporated more stretching for himself, but I don’t think this detracts from his overarching point).

    – I won’t write out all the details, but he spent most of the aerobic base period cycling instead of running (although he has apparently completed a 100 mile ultra before). His aim was to accomplish around 33 hours of training each week during the aerobic base period. An example week would be:

    Mon 7h biking at 260W
    Tue 6h biking 250W
    Wed 2h x-country skiing + 4h biking at 250W
    Thu 7h biking at 265W
    Fr 6h biking at 240W
    Sat Resting
    Sun Resting

    – Interestingly, he adopted a 5-2 training schedule, but noted that this was largely for psychological reasons due to the high-volume sessions he was doing which took him some time to recover from. An example training session on the ice for the 10k would be:

    A. Warm up
    B. 3 x 8 laps in 30″, with 2 laps rest
    THEN: 30 min rest.
    C: Repeat B.

    Nils decided to do those ice sessions for 5 days in a row (yes, you read that right) and believes that he could only have done so due to the massive aerobic base that he worked on in the base period.

    I would urge anyone with an interest to read this document, as it gives a really interesting insight into his approach and some of the lifestyle changes he had to make as well.

  • Participant
    Eddie on #63480

    Thanks, Mark. This is an excellent and insightful read!

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