Cross training - cross country skiing

Just wondering if anyone does any cross country skiing during the winter to mix things up. If so which style is considered best? And do you do any particular sessions? Have never done it before but quite fancy it as spend a lot of times in the mountains when cycling is not possible.

I do it whenever I’m visiting my family for the holidays. Easier than traveling with my bike and much more fun. If I lived somewhere that had access to XC skiing I’d do it much more often.

As far as which style, I can do either but prefer skate. I don’t much in terms of structured training other than timing myself around some loops. You certainly could, though. I do a fair number of drills though; especially the first few days to make sure muscle memory is still there.

Skating is a bit harder to learn (more balance) but classic is harder to master (at least, that’s the general wisdom as far as I know, I’m not a master of either).

Do they require different equipment or can you do both with the same?

They use different equipment.

XC skiing is a pretty steep learning curve. Technique, waxing, understanding different snow conditions… anyway, it’s a lot more than cycling which is relatively simple in comparison.

My suggestion would be to start with classic skiing and buy a set of skin skis. Then you don’t have to worry about buying a bunch of grip waxes and klister and figuring out which one to use when (and cleaning off old wax). Then all you have to worry about is the occasional glide wax. If you aren’t skiing often, just get a shop to do it for you and supplement with a rub-on wax occasionally.

As mentioned, classic is easier to start with so you should be able to get good workouts right away. Skate will bury you almost instantly with poor technique.

Consider getting lessons. There’s a big difference between shuffling and really skiing. If you then decide to add skate skiing, definitely start with lessons. I’d you can join a club that would give you access to coaching/mentoring or even basic advice, it would be a big help.

FYI - I’m not an accomplished skier by any means but my kids are all in a race program and I’m surrounded by experienced skiers including ex-Olympian’s. I got thrown into the sport so learned it all the hard way. Great sport that’s very complimentary to cycling but can be daunting.


XC skiing is so much fun. I’d do as much as you can.

I lived in Spokane for a while and the best thing I did was buy some metal edge trail skis. With these, you don’t need groomed trails with tracks. After a snow storm I could ski down my street to the park. Or, I’d go to a hiking area and ski the trails. Golf courses are great too.

These skis aren’t as fast as classic skis but you can easily turn with the edges. I’d also use them when we went to groomed trails and they would work fine in the tracks.

I’m still using my grandfather’s 3-pin classic skis. In primary school we learned how to do classic skiing during gym class, so that’s about as far as my skills go with skiing. I have skate-skiing boots but only use them to do nordic skating on a local pond, I actually like skating a lot more than skiing now. I’ve been meaning to get the rest of the gear needed to do some real wild skating but haven’t got around to it yet. Used gear has really gone up price around here due to covid and we only have a short season locally.

Thanks all. I think I might go for skating and get some lessons to start. I’ll see if I can get some low maintenance skis.I don’t want to be having to rely on hiring them otherwise I will never go. So if one set - I may as well go for the ones that are going to give me a real challenge.

I am a bit confused of what is described as classic skiing.
In Norway and other nordic countries classic style is with parallel skis, the one which need waxes and stuff. Skate is skating.

Typically you find classic, skate, or back country skis. You can also get classic in waxless versions.

@Bison11 , these are the skis I got:

They are skinny enough to be used in groomed tracks but have metal edges and a tiny bit of side cut so can be easily used out of a track on trails and are super easy to turn. They are an all-arounder, go most anywhere ski and waxless.

I train xc ski in the winter and cycling in the summer. I use TR year round with two seasons and I use TR plans for each (with different plans based on event/personal goals). Basic training concepts are the same.

My comment is more about being serious with ski workouts as part of a training plan, less so about having fun mixing it up.

In terms of ski workout instead of a cycling one, the biggest difference is that your effort is split across your whole body and less focused on legs. Therefore, a ski workout won’t load your legs like a cycling workout does. If you adjust for this, then you’ll be fine.

Another way to consider this is to know your legs will be fresher than the same workout done cycling but that you’ve still done the workout TSS. If you need, use a free TP account and get a nordic ski HR TSS (maybe Garmin Connect does this, I’m unsure).

Watch your HR as you can easily push your intensity up with nordic ski, especially when new and have beginner technique. In this regard, classic can be easier to adjust your effort from easy ‘ski walking’ to full on ‘hill running’.

That said, I’d suggest skate technique is more cycling specific.

Otherwise, a big plus for me is the mental stimulation of two sports. And to mix it up the other way, rollerski sessions are fun in summer too.