Fall months for cross-country skiers can be rather challenging. Weather is a major variable and sometimes motivation can be lacking with cold weather, rain/snow, and a lack of daylight making it difficult to get out the door. As challenging as it may be, it is important to stay consistent in your routine during the transition periods while also being flexible with the ever-changing weather. Even though the snow is starting to fly, we still have some time to get into ski specific shape.

First, I suggest looking at the weather for the coming week and building your training schedule around that. Plan the indoor workouts for the poor weather days and your outdoor sessions for the clear fall days. Always have your running shoes with you in the fall in case it randomly starts snowing and rollerskiing becomes too dangerous or the trails are too wet for mountain biking.

A coach with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Mary Rose’s cross-country athletes tackle dryland training at Dollar Mountain. 

We spend all summer building lower body strength and endurance by running, hiking and biking; Fall is the time to start incorporating upper body exercise and speed into your routine. Getting into the gym for basic strength (pull-ups, push-ups, dips) will pay off once you hit the trails. If your gym has a ski erg, utilize that for your warm-up or build a session around ski erg intervals. Getting on the ski erg 1-2 times a week will quickly build strength and set you up for a great winter season!

Start regaining foot speed and explosiveness during the fall months by incorporating ski walking or bounding into your routine. Build training plans with 1-3 intensity sessions per week. One to two of the sessions should be threshold and the other session should be speed focused. If you are on a distance run, do speed bursts of 10-15 seconds every 5 minutes. Pick varying terrain to teach your body how to move fast in different types of terrain. A few of my favorite threshold interval sets are 4 x4 minutes, 4×8 minutes, and 4×12 minutes. I like to switch up how I construct the workout.  Sometimes I pick a set loop for each interval. Other times I do intervals on a bigger loop and each interval is done in a different section with different terrain.

Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation is very fortunate to have a rollerski treadmill- this becomes a key training tool especially in the fall with poor weather*. We use the treadmill 12 months a year for technique work, accommodating injuries, and lactate testing. This has become a great resource because of the quality workouts that can be accomplished, regardless of weather and daylight.

There are many ways to get into ski shape in the fall, you just have to find what works best for you. The key to success in the winter is to stay consistent with exercise, in the summer and fall. Stay motivated by mixing up the workouts and being flexible with the weather conditions for that day. Call a buddy and get out there!

See you on the trails!
Mary Rose

*The treadmill has recently been opened to the public for private rollerski, bounding, or ski walking coaching sessions. It is a great tool for cross-country skiers of all abilities to work on technique, test lactate levels, and do intervals in a safe and controlled environment.  If you are interested in the treadmill contact Mary Rose at to schedule a session!