Do You Have the Strength for This?
It’s a cliche to say that cross-country skiing is a great workout. Cross-country skiers love to claim their sport is “The World’s Best Cardio Workout” and brag about “full body exercise”.
To be honest, I don’t care too much about the health benefits of cross-country skiing. It’s a nice side benefit, for sure, but there are lots of different activities I can chose from if I want to improve my fitness. Cross-country skiing isn’t something I do because it’s “good for me” – I do it because it’s FUN!
However, we should acknowledge the role fitness plays in technique development. I’m sure you’ve noticed that good skiers tend to be extremely fit. Are they fit because they’re great skiers and ski a lot, or are they great skiers because they are fit?
Do you have to be fit to have excellent technique?
The answer is yes, but your fitness level will automatically improve as you develop your technique. They go hand in hand, and both are very rewarding.
I remember when I first realized there was more to classic skiing than shuffling along the trail. When I tried striding instead of shuffling I would get exhausted after just a few minutes. I’d slip back into shuffle technique until I saw someone coming towards me, at which point I’d try to ski better to avoid embarrassment. Eventually, striding became easier than shuffling, but it took time and a lot of practice.
As my skiing improved, my fitness improved which in turn allowed me to improve my technique even further. This is the powerful spiral of positve feedback that hooks people on to the sport. Cross-country skiing demands balance, strength, coordination and agility, but it also pays you back by developing all of those skills.
As I said, it’s a self-perpetuating positive feedback loop. You just have to invest a little energy and patience to get started, but you will soon see improvements and the fun factor will rise exponentially.
So don’t let yourself get bogged down with feelings of frustration, just enjoy the process and keep practicing. I promise you’ll see benefits.