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Winter XC Ski Training for Runners

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Winter XC Ski Training for Runners

Includes Structured Workouts

Structured Workouts automatically sync with compatible devices and guide you through workouts in real time.

Learn More about Structured Workouts.


Adam Hodges

All plans by this Coach


16 Weeks

Includes Structured Workouts

Structured Workouts automatically sync with compatible devices and guide you through workouts in real time.

Learn More about Structured Workouts.

Plan Description

Are you a runner who likes to get on the Nordic trails during the winter? This training plan provides a 16-week program to help you transition from fall running to winter cross-country skiing and then back to spring running. Whether you skate ski, classic ski, or do a combination of both, this plan will help you maximize your winter training to build your overall fitness during snow season and give your running a head start come spring.

The program assumes some current running fitness from the summer and early fall. If you’re coming off an extended break in training, you may want to start with a few weeks of Aerobic Base Conditioning to focus on the development of extensive aerobic endurance along with the supporting structures you’ll need for more advanced training. Otherwise, if you’re coming off a summer/fall running season with a good base of fitness, start this plan a few weeks to a month out from XC ski season.

This plan begins with three weeks of VO2max run training to develop your aerobic capacity by focusing on intensity rather than volume and to prepare you for XC skiing. Your aerobic capacity, or VO2max, refers to the highest rate of oxygen transport by your body during maximal physical exertion. Think of this as your performance “ceiling.” By raising your ceiling, you will raise your overall fitness — including your ability to run and ski faster at an aerobic pace.

The plan then moves into a mix of XC skiing and running workouts with a focus on Lactate Threshold training over six weeks. The aim of this phase is to raise your lactate threshold, which allows you to stay aerobic at faster speeds. This is followed by another three-week block of VO2max training, but this time focused on skiing, to set you up for any winter XC ski races you may want to do.

The plan ends with four weeks of Endurance Training that transitions from skiing to running to help you start building training volume as you transition out of snow season and back into full-time running.

The plan assigns skiing and running volume based on training hours and training stress score (TSS). Adjust the frequency, volume, and intensity of the workouts up or down based on your personal starting point — see the guidelines within the plan to customize the plan for your own situation.

To target and monitor your training intensity, the workouts provide training zone descriptions based on breathing and talking cues to help you gauge your perceived exertion, as well as heart rate ranges, if you use a heart rate monitor. The Alp Fitness training zones are also compatible with Stryd running power. But you are encouraged to learn to judge your effort levels "by feel" even if using these other tools.

The plan includes an optional strength training program to supplement your running workouts.

No matter where you want to go, you must start where you are with your own unique goals in mind. This plan — like any training plan — represents an initial draft, rather than a final document set in stone. You will write the final version over the coming weeks as you glean feedback from your training and adapt the plan to your specific situation and goals. Train smart!

Training phase #1: VO2max with running focus (3 weeks)
Training phase #2: Lactate Threshold for running + skiing (6 weeks)
Training phase #3: VO2max with skiing focus (3 weeks)
Training phase #4: Endurance with focus on transitioning to running (4 weeks)

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Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Run x4
02:23:00 01:30:00
Strength x3
01:26:00 00:40:00
XC-Ski x2
01:51:00 01:30:00
Day Off x1
—— ——
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
02:23:00 01:30:00
01:26:00 00:40:00
01:51:00 01:30:00
Day Off
—— ——

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

  • Heart Rate Monitor

All supported devices

Adam Hodges

Alp Fitness

For me, endurance sports provide a way to explore the beauty of our world and learn about ourselves in the process. I offer coaching and training plans for those seeking personal growth through self-defined challenges, whether those involve races (e.g., 50K trail runs, winter triathlons) or solo adventures (e.g., fast-packing, mountaineering objectives). Learn more about my training approach at where you can also find additional videos and articles to help you train smart.

  • This plan includes a Free Basic TrainingPeaks Account.
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  • Track your weight, sleep, hours, fatigue and stress while you train.
  • Completed workouts sync with popular apps like Garmin and Wahoo. Learn More
  • If plan includes Structured Workouts, then planned workouts sync to compatible devices and guide you through workouts in real time. Learn More

Refund Policy

This plan is protected by our Refund Policy and may, with the author's approval, be exchanged for a plan of equal value from the same author.

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