Kasie from Vermont asks: I am a coach in northern Vermont and many of the runners I work with are also nordic skiers. I’ve noticed an injury trend in the springtime as the high school runners switch over to the spring track season and as the adult runners jump into spring marathon training. While these runners maintain, or often improve, their cardiovascular fitness from skiing during the winter they do not seem to maintain the musculoskeletal adaptations. In order to help with this transition, I have advised keeping up with a certain amount of running during the winter season.
My question is, how much on the ground running is needed to maintain running-specific, impact-related adaptations?
Dr. Jack Daniels: During the great aerobic conditioning that is associated with skiing, there is a consistent lack of impact that comes with running. Probably the best return for the time spent running would be 30-minute sessions 2-3 times per week. If footing is too risky during the winter, and no indoor track available, I’d suggest getting to a treadmill for these runs, and keep the treadmill on a flat grade of no more than a couple % grade. Another possible approach would be to do some light plyometric bounding, which could introduce some impact as well. Maybe the skiers do some plyos already and that would be good.
Main thing is to not introduce anything that is too stressful and may cause injury during the winter season. So, if just some running, I’d say abut 30 minutes of running 3 days a week. If some running is kept up most of the time then I would suggest doing some rep 200s — maye 6X200 meters in a session, but not too fast; just light and quick.