January: Marathon Racing!

Posted by Paige Schember on Feb 2nd 2016

January: Marathon Racing!

January, February, and March signify what many skiers are really excited for: marathon racing. The Midwest has a bunch of wonderfully organized ski marathons: the Noquemanon, the Seeley Hills Classic, the Book Across the Bay, the Vasaloppet, the City of Lakes Loppet, and the infamous BIRKEBEINER!

To be honest, I have never raced anything over a 20k. So for those of you tackling a marathon for the first time this year, we’re in the same boat! Next week I’ll be racing the Boulder Mountain Tour (a 34 kilometer race down the Harriman Trail in Sun Valley, Idaho) and I also plan on racing the Birkie in a few weeks. Because my training has primarily focused around sprints and 10ks, I have some mental and physical adjustment to do to make these races happen. So I’ve been doing a little research, and am going to highlight three very important things to focus on before/during/after racing a ski marathon!

1. Fuel Fuel Fuel.
Marathons take a lot of energy, and they are constantly draining your body of nutrients and hydration. Fueling up for a marathon shouldn’t just start the morning of, it should start at least a few days to a week before. Believe it or not, one of the most important types of nutrients a skier needs is carbs. While most endurance athletes put primary focus on electrolytes and proteins, your brain runs on carbohydrates, and without those you lose concentration and focus, making simple mistakes and letting the “wall” and 35k hit you even harder than it should.

2. Don’t panic.
The Birkie has 10,000 entrants. The Noque has over 300. Whether it’s a mass-scale marathon or a smaller one, the numbers at the start line dwarf the numbers seen at SuperTour races or normal citizen races. (It’s kind of awe-inspiring how many people want to get out and race far.) But it’s important to remember that in the midst of the pack, panicking will not get you anywhere. The last thing you want is a broken ski or pole, and when you have 30-50k in the rest of the race, a calm start is worth being able to move up in the middle of the race.

3. Ride the train!
There are so many people racing around you that marathons are a great chance to pick a pace faster than you’re normally comfortable with. Tuck in behind someone and get carried along, and I promise you can impress yourself with your place or time. It’s a long race, and you’ll have time to explore where you want to be around people. When it’s your turn to lead, don’t let yourself get too excited and blow yourself out. Stay calm, ski efficient, and stay focused!

Courtesy of


Courtesy of



Feel free to say hello at the Birkie, and good luck out there! I’m happy to be almost healed and back into training. After a crazy beginning of the season, I just really want to race.


-Posted by Paige Schember on Feb 2nd 2016