How one ultrarunner used cross country skiing in Quebec City to get a jump on her training in spring
Jennifer Coleman has never taken part in a multi-sport winter event. In February, she’ll celebrate her birthday in Quebec City at Pentathlon des Neiges’s Salomon Duathlon. As the world’s largest multi-sport event, the one-of-a-kind sports party has attracted both families and serious athletes alike from around the world to compete in categories including the Salomon Duathlon, Triathlon and Pentathlon. Athletes can compete in up to five distinct sports, like cross-country skiing, ice skating, cycling, snowshoeing and running, and can participate as individuals or as part of a team.
For an ultrarunner like Coleman, competing in the duathlon (a run, ski, run event) is a challenge on multiple levels. “As an ultrarunner who cross–country skis, I’ve found skiing has been a great cross-training option,” Coleman says. The duathlon event is a new addition to the Pentathlon des Neiges, one that Coleman believes has the ability to attract long–distance runners like her and her friends. While she’s accustomed to logging significant kilometres during her peak training, Coleman is not a fan of winter running. This makes training in Canada in the wintertime hard. Like many runners, cross–training at the gym isn’t Coleman’s first choice either, so she needed to find an alternate sport in the off–season, one that wouldn’t compromise her health and performance once ultramarathon season began.
“My husband is also a skier and wanted me to learn alpine skiing, so Nordic skiing was my initial step,” she says. With the gruelling training and expense of ultramarathon racing, Coleman is selective with the number of races she participates in, which means she needs to stay in top form all year round. As she discovered in her training, cross-country skiing has been a way to help strengthen many of the muscles she doesn’t use in running.
“I do mostly classic–style cross–country skiing, but I’m going to try to adapt to skate–style skiing, because that style works more of your hip–area muscles,” she says. Along with strengthening different muscle groups, Coleman discovered that cross–country skiing is non-impact, which reduces the pressure that long–distance runners have on their joints.
But is cross–country skiing really enough during the off–season, especially for an ultrarunner? According to Coleman, her coach encourages the variety, but also suggests that an additional workout may be required. “The uphill in cross–country skiing will make you a better trail hill runner,” says Coleman, adding: “I’ve already found that after a full season of skiing, there’s a difference in my running.”
When it comes to racing the duathlon in February, Coleman says she’s looking forward to finding out exactly what her cross–training workouts can do in a competitive event. “I want people to realize that it’s a quick sport to pick up. You don’t have to be amazing at it, but you can still have a good workout,” she says. Pushing past your limits, challenging yourself to do something different—this is what the spirit of good competition at Pentathlon des Neiges is all about. And for Coleman, and many others, seeing how far you can take yourself is the real win, no matter how you actually fare in the competition. It’s all about a great day outside in Quebec.
For more information http://www.pentathlondesneiges.com/en/competitions/salomon-duathlon