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50 km (e.g. American Birkebeiner "Birkie") Marathon Nordic XC Ski Beginner/Intermediate 12 Weeks


Joe Bergantine

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12 Weeks

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Plan Description

A Nordic ("XC", "X-country", "cross country") skate or classic skiing training plan for racing a marathon nordic skiing event such as the American Birkebeiner 50km Worldloppet race (the "Birkie") or the Yellowstone Rendezvous 50km. This is a 12-week training plan with a focus on strengthening muscles used in nordic skiing, building up your aerobic base and adding some effective interval training elements.

This is a training plan for someone who can ski at an easy pace for two hours to begin. The average training week is 9.5 hours and ranges from 8-12.5. Every fourth week is a recovery week to allow your body to recover from the hard work you've done in the previous three weeks and reap the benefits of that fitness build. These de-loading weeks, and the interim rest days, are as important as the work days, if not more so. Take your rest days as seriously as your workouts.

The strength training portion of the plan is of beginner level and assumes you will be starting out at the first phase of a strength training program, the Anatomical Adaptation phase, but have experience with the basic free weight movement patterns of push, pull, squat, hinge, and press. It assumes you have access to free weights including dumbbells, kettlebells, and/or barbells, and a knowledge of how to use them safely and with good technique. If you're ever in doubt, ask a certified Fitness Trainer or Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

This training program references heart rate zones for prescribing intensity. This plan utilizes a sport-specific threshold test early on in the training plan to determine your own unique values. Most heart rate monitors will allow you to set customized zone information. Consult the manufacturer's information if you have questions about your unique device.

It is important to remember that this training plan is just a guide, to listen to your body and see how you perform. Consultations, customized training plans, and full-service coaching available at

Questions? Email me at

Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
XC-Ski x4
6:52 hrs 5:00 hrs
Strength x2
2:25 hrs 1:00 hrs
Day Off x1
—— ——
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
6:52 hrs 5:00 hrs
2:25 hrs 1:00 hrs
Day Off
—— ——

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • GPS

All supported devices

Joe Bergantine


IRONMAN Certified Coach, USAC Cycling Coach, RYT200 Yoga Instructor, NSCA CSCS Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Stacy Sims Women are Not Small Men Certified. Full-service remote coaching and training plans for cyclists and triathletes.

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