Arctic Challenge / Challenge Journal / Training

The Arctic V reveal their training tips for The Arctic Circle Race

By Max Willcocks

Let us make ourselves absolutely clear - The Arctic Circle Race will be the toughest test The Arctic V have faced yet. The three-day challenge will take it out of our five intrepid athletes - so it’s vital that they train well.

We spoke to Max Willcocks about the training that they’re undergoing, and how The Arctic V are preparing their minds and bodies for the epic challenge ahead...

"When you live in England and you decide to undertake a cross-country ski race that takes place in the Arctic Circle, you are immediately faced with one very clear and simple problem when it comes to training - lack of snow. There are a few ways to tackle this.

The best way to make sure that we are not completely caught with our ski pants down is focusing on interval training. To get the most out of our sessions, the main aim is to get our heart rates in a high training zone for a short to medium amount of time. We are pushing to train anaerobically, so that we can ultimately improve our fitness, so that at least when we are in the Arctic we can be confident that we will be fit enough to challenge during the race. Obviously the best way to know our heart rate zones was to go for full on fitness testing at Kingston’s Sports department at the University.

Secondly, we have spent many hours roller skiing to learn techniques and to activate the correct muscle groups to make sure that we can be as efficient as possible when we’re out in the snow in Greenland. Roller skiing gives us a rudimentary understanding of the technique we will be using. There are many similarities but also some severe differences. The roller ski training is actually more difficult to balance due to the shorter nature of the skis and because the skis use a non reversible ratchet you are guaranteed grip, something that isn’t as assured when on the snow. Despite the differences its still our best form of training while in the UK.

Lastly, we have recently travelled out to Austria to stay at the Apsley Ski Lodge for some snow training. It was perhaps the steepest learning curve possible, but ultimately gave us invaluable knowledge of how we will perform in the Arctic Circle. Here’s a link to our big training day out in Austria."

Here’s an example of an average daily training day for Max:

  1. Gym at 7am for a 10km run, which usually takes around 38 minutes. I always include an additional mile or two for a warm up and a cool down.
  2. 12pm: Dorney Lake roller ski session, which is 8 miles long. This is a minimum for the session and usually takes an hour. Most roller sessions will focus on the classic cross country ski technique and will last about an hour and a half.
  3. 4pm: Husky run. This is usually an easy 6.5 miles at whatever pace True, my husky, wants to pull me along. We stop when True wants to stop and we speed up when she feels like going for a sprint.

"Don’t forget that any training that helps activate the glutes and elongates the hip flexors will be beneficial to training. Squats at the gym or hill running are perhaps two of the best ways to improve. Lunges in all their various forms will also help improve hip flexor durability and mobility."

Max Willcocks


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