Q: When I’m roller skiing with others I find that if I fall behind and need to catch-up I can’t. It isn’t because I’m at 100% exertion I just don’t seem to be able to convert my strength into speed. What should I do? Are there sprint exercises I need to do?
A: Indeed turning your strength into speed on skis is a product of becoming more efficient at higher heart-rates. Becoming more efficient on skis means having higher velocity between your threshold heart-rate (Level 3) and your VO2max heart-rate (Levels 4 and 5).
To work on your velocity at these heart-rates, practice longer Level 3 intervals (between 4-8 minutes per repetition) and shorter but more frequent Level 4 intervals (between 2-4 minutes). You should limit intervals to 1-3 times per week on your moderate or harder training weeks.
Another tip to creating higher velocity on skis is to throw in “pick-ups” throughout your distance sessions. A pick-up is a 30-second speed where you start from Level 1 and slowly accelerate so that during the last 10-8 seconds you are at your top-sprint speed. These are great physically and mentally as they teach the body the difference between going fast and going as fast as you can gradually.