​How YOU can WIN your Personal Birke in 2018!

Posted by Jan Guenther on Mar 7th 2018

Eight physical and mental training tips to put in place THIS year to make NEXT year faster! 
(from an aging master’s perspective)

pc: Bruce Adelsman of

The Nordic ski season is fleeting. We hold our breath for a Xmas snowstorm (vs rainstorm) and a luminary or two races later, we cross the finish line in the Birke. Dryland training again?! With eight months before we think about waxing our skis and feeling snow under our feet, here are some simple, effective and fun body and mind focuses to add to your summer / fall training. Adopt at least 6 tips and I guarantee your Birke will be better than ever next year because you will FEEL your personal best!

  • 1) Strength training, with a core body focus. Join a group fitness program. There are so many cool fitness clubs to fit any schedule or pocketbook, or, create your own Boot Camp. Joining a group will motivate and inspire you to do strength in a way you would/could not by yourself. Committing to 2x / week of core body workouts will improve overall health and mobility in all areas of life.
  • 2) Long pole hikes with bounding. Complete a long (2-3 hours) slow distance pole hike every two weeks or so in one of the many woods or mtn bike trails in the Wisconsin or Minnesota area. Your goal is to use short poles to work the upper body and mimic the classic movement through ‘single sticking’ and ‘ski walking’. Throw in some short 30 sec – one-minute high intensity hill bounds (whatever your body can handle) per every 30 minutes to what would otherwise be a level one/two heart rate workout.

  • 3) Improve your nutrition. Don’t look at it as losing weight but instead, challenge yourself. Chose 3 ways you will improve your eating habits, starting NOW and lasting till ski season (and beyond). Can be as simple as: drinking more water / making a morning vegi smoothie / eliminating refined sugar / falling in love with Kale / experimenting with one new healthy recipe a week….

  • 4) Rollerski. One or two times / week and maybe more in the fall (if you like rollersking). Rollerski with a purpose, work on specific ski strength or technique. You don’t have to go fast, you don’t have to ski in traffic, just focus on specific arm and leg strength drills including technique (open field, V2 drills). Consider taking some lessons to help you practice good technique (vs hammering in bad form).
  • 5) Add one fun new cross-training sport to your repertoire with an eye on how it could help your skiing. I chose swimming. (I already run trails.) I don’t really like swimming, or at least initially getting wet but I LOVE swimming outside in lakes because it reminds me of being up north. I feel happy after I finish, and swimming improves my overall body conditioning while giving my biking and running legs a break. Perhaps for you it is mtn biking, or pole hiking, or yoga… or dance. Be creative and enjoy trying something different in sport.
  • 6) Physically push yourself, anaerobically, once a week. Choose your favorite sport and make sure you move uncomfortably fast in it by pushing yourself into oxygen debt. Obviously, you can add some training science into it, but basically, do speed workouts. Don’t get down on yourself for not being in shape, or not doing speed like you once could, because then, you will never start. Instead, just make it simple and go faster in short and longer bits. You will improve; feeling some pain will make you faster.

  • 7) Introduce mental happiness training. If you aren’t happy what is the point of all of this? Yes, life is MIND-BODY experience. At least 2x / week (and this is MY NEW GOAL) I plan to slow down, (at least for a little bit). Chose yoga, meditate, or just carve out quiet time to think and stretch your body. Figure out what you can do to make you happy, or at a minimum, how can you reduce some life stresses in work and in relationships. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is hard enough and physical success can only be enjoyed thru adopting a stable, positive attitude. Balancing a family, career and working out is an ongoing challenge but feeling fit and healthy while doing so is truly rewarding and if you can improve your Birke time as well? What a bonus!
  • 8) If all else fails, just clean your car or office. It is a good start.

Jan Guenther. Owner Gear West Ski Bike & Run

-Posted by Jan Guenther on Mar 7th 2018