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Ready to Race? Here’s What You Need to Know

Tips & Ideas Monday, November 16, 2015

The season’s well underway, you’re feeling confident, and for added inspiration, 24/7 Olympic coverage has you thinking, “Hey, could I?”

You can, and it’s not too late. Joe Howdyschell, MS, head coach of the Summit Nordic Ski Club and owner of Summit Endurance Academy, shares his tips for tackling your next (or first) competition.

Set a Goal

Whether it’s a more modest weekly race (Frisco, Vail, Eldora have great options) or a big event (like the Snow Mountain Stampede or Crested Butte’s Grand Traverse) you need a target to shoot for. Check CCCSA’s race calendar for comprehensive race listings.

Confront Your Strengths & Weakness

What’s keeping you from achieving your goal? Take stock of four areas:

  • Physical: Are you fit?
  • Psychological: Are you a whiner or a scrapper? Can you persevere and set a goal?
  • Technical: How’s your form? Can you climb? Corner? Descend?
  • Tactical: Can you fuel yourself before and during a race? Grab a water bottle with pole straps on?

Set Up a Training Schedule

Whether you have two weeks or two months, you can pull together a schedule that helps you prioritize the work you need to do on your weak areas. Nordic center instructors and staff can share tips and advice; find resources online at

Find Your Tribe

Moral support? Racing buddy? Coaching? Join a local Nordic club (like those in Vail, Summit and Grand counties, Leadville, Boulder) and you’ll find that and more. Some club coaches may offer private coaching if you ask.

3 Things to Do in February

1. Catch the best of Nordic Olympic events: Check out the team sprints finals on Feb. 19 (U.S. women are the defending world champions) and the mass-start 30k skate on Feb. 22 and 23.

2. If you’re in the market for gear, time to demo and seal the deal—the prices drop, but so does inventory this time of year.

3. Add 15 to 20 minutes of some no pole skiing with each workout; you’ll maximize balance and leg strength as your season peaks.

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