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KR – Mailbag

Kikkan's Rap SkiTrax  

All questions that Kikkan receives and answers will appear within her special training Blog and here in her Mailbag as well for easy reference during the season – pls check back regularly.


May 26 – Q & A – Rollerski Speeds

Hey Kikkan!
I am just starting to get into the rollerski season and we were wondering what you recommend for rollerski speeds. My coach typically has me on a slower classic rollerski and a faster skate rollerski. Any advice?

Shelby Dickey
Singhampton, Ontario

Hi Shelby,
You’ve presented a great question. When it comes to roller ski wheel speeds, I think the best things to consider are: who you are training around, and what type of terrain and surfaces you’ll be doing most of your training?

I think it’s best to choose wheel speeds that will allow you to keep up with your training partners, without making you go too easy or too hard. On our team at APU, we have the younger athletes train on slightly faster skis so that they can keep up with us in distance and also challenge us in the intervals.

As for the terrain and surfaces you ski on, if you have lots of smooth pavement and more rolling terrain, then perhaps a slower wheel will help you build fitness through increased resistance. If you are on rougher pavement or have a lot of climbing, I think it’s better to use a little faster ski so that you can still have float in your movement.

I actually use several different pairs of Marwe roller skis, that have varying wheel speeds, for the different types of workouts that I’m doing. This is something you can work up to as you get more and more serious.

Best of luck with your training!

Kikkan :)


Dec. 24 – Q & A – Warm Ups

Hi Kikkan,

As a junior skier, coaches often tell me to “get a good warm up” before races.  I was wondering what that looks like. Can you give me a picture of what your warm up looks like, and what you change in it for sprint vs. distance races?

Abe Meyerhofer,

Hi Abe,

Getting a good warm-up is important for both interval workouts and races, to make sure your body is open, warm and ready to perform at it’s best!  I usually start all of my warm-up routines by skiing or jogging easy for 15-20 min.  Sometimes it can be hard to keep this pace easy with race nerves surging and an exciting atmosphere around, but try to keep a lid on the effort if you can.

Towards the end of the 20 min, I start picking up the pace just a little bit and then transition into about 5-10 min of L3 or sub-race pace skiing. This is a pace that is a little slower and easier than your goal race pace and helps switch on the aerobic system.  The next part depends of whether it’s a sprint or a distance race.

If it’s a distance race, I usually just add on a couple minutes of race pace skiing to the end of the L3 interval.  Nothing too hard or too long, but it does help to wake up the body to the pace it will be racing at.  After the interval, ski easy for another 5-10 min and then throw in a few short bursts.  In the start pen, I usually jog around, swing my arms and just work on staying loose.

If it’s a sprint, I next add in some 30-60 second short intervals at race pace with a couple minutes rest in between. I usually do 3-4 of these on important parts of the course. I finish up my warm-up with some easy skiing and a few short 6-10 sec bursts. While I’m in the start pen, I continue to stay warm with some track-style drills like high knees, bounding, skips, etc.  The key is to feel warm and sweaty when you start!

Practicing your warm-up routine on interval days will help you figure out what works for you.  Everyone is a little different. Sometimes the situation at the race site may cause you to change plans, so just remember the basics and be ready to be flexible.

Best of luck!
Kikkan :)


Dec. 8 – Q&A – Drafting

Hello Kikkan,

I am a biathlete from eastern Canada and am trying to take my raceing to a new level, my question regards drafting. How effective and important is this? Any insight you could provide and tips for effective drafting would be of great help to me.

Good luck, and keep up the great results.

Carsen Campbell

Hey Carsen,

Thanks for your question. Drafting is always a curious topic. Sometimes it can really make a difference and sometimes it doesn’t seem to really work at all.

From my experience, if you can tuck in behind a good skier and follow their rhythm, it can help teach you how to make efficient movements and stay relaxed in your own skiing. You can also save up a little energy for that last punch you need at the finish.

The only thing to consider when drafting is that you are at the mercy of the skier ahead. They get to take whatever line they want, they could fall or bobble and you may have a hard time getting around them when it counts. So my advice is to practice skiing behind others in practice and learn to always be ready for something to happen.

Good luck in your racing!

Kikkan :)


Nov. 4 – Q&A – Nutrition

Hi Kikkan,

Really enjoying your training rap. I’m a cyclist as well and think about nutrition and the sports I partake in more than I actually put into practice but know it’s an important factor in the whole “equation” so to speak. I love all kinds of foods and any tips you can share would be great.


Everett Wilson
Calgary, AB

Hi Everett,

Thanks for your question. As an athlete you can appreciate the role nutrition plays in optimal performance! I like to think of my body as a race car engine, the higher the quality of the fuel I put in it, the “faster” the performance I get out. That means eating a balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats and a lot of fruits and vegetables. One of the benefits of being an endurance athlete too, is that the engine burns pretty hot so there is a little room for “treats” in there too. One of my favorite treats after a tough interval session is the white chip Macademia nut cookies at Subway.

Basically, if I eat a smart balance of foods and time my meals/snacks to occur every couple hours, I keep an even level of energy that allows me to handle all of the training and racing my schedule demands.

Enjoy the winter!

Kikkan :)


Oct. 27 – Q&A – Equipment

Hi Kikkan,

Thanks for taking time to answer questions from your fans – I enjoy reading your training rap as it inspires me with my own training. As a World Cup level skier I’m wondering about your equipment – how many pairs of skis, poles and boots do you own or need at your level of racing? Is there a big difference from say when you were a national level skier?

Good luck this season.

Bob Thompson
Bangor, Maine

Dear Bob,

As a World Cup skier there is plenty of gear involved!  Let’s start with the skis. I usually travel the World Cup series with about 30 pairs of skis. Split those into 50% skate and 50% classic and then you have different flexes, different grinds and even different base materials for different temperatures.

While I have a few pairs of favorite skis that seem to be great in many conditions, I still have to have those specialty pairs for certain conditions. For poles I travel with two sets of each for skate and classic and usually have a couple spare shafts on hand. For boots, I travel with three pairs: skate, classic and skiathlon.

I have found that as you go up the ladder of performance, the need for more specialized equipment has become more important. On some days the level of fitness is pretty even at the World Cup level, and it might just be the racer with the fastest skis that can win.

The good news is that the faster you get, the more companies are willing to help you find the best equipment. I’ve been working with Fischer, Salomon and Swix for skis, boots and bindings, and poles respectively for several years now, and having a strong relationship with these companies helps me focus on skiing my best performances.

Thanks for your question and good luck this season!

Kikkan :)


Oct. 19 – Q&A – Strength Training Part 2

Hi Kikkan,

What are the details of your strength and core program this time of year?  Specifically what exercises would you be doing. Do you have a maintenance program once the ski/racing season starts?

Karl Schneider

Hi Karl,

My current strength sessions are divided into three parts. Part one is mobility exercises that help me reverse and balance out some of the motions I do over and over in skiing and focus on the shoulders, hips and back flexibility. Part two is the main part of the program where I do a couple big leg/whole body lifts like power cleans and a couple upper body exercises like weighted pull-ups. The final part of the program is core based and usually includes three core exercises like weighted plank.

Once the racing season starts, I will still continue to do a mix of mobility, power lifting and core, but the amount in each session will be reduced. I also use some explosive exercises to get the muscles fired up for racing.

Kikkan :)


Oct. 12 – Q&A – Strength Training Part 1

Hi Kikkan,

I’m a skier and I was wondering how often each week do you do strength training?

Conor McGovern

Hi Conor,

Thanks for your question. Strength training is an important component to my weekly training plan.  I typically do two sessions a week in the afternoons following my intensity sessions. I work with Alex Moore, a US Ski Team strength & conditioning coach and he builds my plan based off of testing we do in the spring. Strength training is important not just for building more strength to go fast on skis, but also to help balance out the body, increase mobility and prevent injuries. Plus it’s pretty fun too!  Best of luck this season!

Kikkan :)


Oct. 5

Training Hours

Hi Kikkan,

Thanks for doing this Q and A with us guys. Could you tell us your hours per month from May until now and what you are shooting for total hours for the year?

Marty Hall
Gatineau, QC

Hi Marty,

The goal for total training hours this year is around the 750 mark. That will be about a 30-hour boost over last season. My training progression has been to hold a solid amount of volume from May through August around 65-75 hrs a month. Then in September I’ve come down a bit in volume as we bring in more intensity, to around the 65-hr mark. October should be similar and then once we’re into the race season, it’s all about being best prepared for the races. Usually with travel days this fluctuates quite a bit between 40-50 hrs.