I took up Nordic skiing a couple of years ago now, and to be honest, it doesn’t get the best rep – in terms of the ‘cool factor’ it probably doesn’t rank very high, but thanks to athletes like Andrew Young more and more people are taking it up. For me, it’s a great addition to my training schedule – in the Alps, it’s just not possible to run all the time and XC skiing can provide a seriously intense alternative. Plus, I love skating through the trees in the sunshine breathing in all that fresh air!
My ‘bag’ consists more of things stuffed into a pocket! Nordic skiing is a travel light kind of sport, unless you are touring. I generally wear the same sort of thing I wear running – so, lots of Adidas Climawarm and really just carry a few extras in case the wind picks up or the sun drops and I start to get cold.
- Skis – I was treated to some swish new skating skis for my birthday – they took a bit of getting used to, since they just want to go, but now I love them. There are two types of Nordic/XC skis – skates and classic – the classic have little fish scale type groves on the base and you do a sort of running action on them, this also helps for going uphill, skates however are a bit more of a workout (in my opinion anyway!) and you pretty much skate as you would do on ice-skates, except these skates are the same length of skis. As a sport, it’s still very male-dominated and I struggled to get skis that were suitable for my height to weight ratio. Being tall but light didn’t make this an easy task, these Salomon equipes are female specific and they’re perfect!
- Poles – my poles are on loan from my mother-in-law, hopefully I’ll get my own soon! Nordic/XC poles are super long in comparison to Alpine ski poles – these are about 30cm longer than my Alpines. The wrists have special straps that help increase the force when you push down on them each time you skate – giving you more momentum, and hopefully more speed.
- Boots – my fancy new boots were also a birthday gift, and they really are the cats tuxedo! Again, female specific from Salomon, they are a bit like running shoes with a special sole – there are little hooks at the toes that slot into the special skating binding attached to the ski. Unlike Alpine ski bindings, these just attach at the toe. Initially, it can feel a bit weird, like flipping about but that soon becomes second nature.
- Sunnies – I never go skiing without sunglasses – ever! Of course, I have loads of Breo ones to chose from, at the moment I’ve been wearing my Ellipse Rubber sunnies in pink and white – I love how they look, and they’re so light I hardly notice I’m wearing them. I’ve also got the navy and lime colourway.
- Headtorch – it’s been so cold in the Alps, that I’ve been very much in favour of being tucked up inside after dark, but in case I do get caught out, I always carry a head torch. This one is from Petzl, and I absolutely love it but the batteries recently leaked inside it, so I suspect it’ll be getting replaced quite soon.
- Gloves – absolutely essential but also so hard to get right! There’s nothing worse than having hands that are too cold, but it’s also annoying to be too warm. I’ve got two pairs that I can pretty much rely on – when it’s really cold, I use my Sealskinz Windproof Gloves, and when I don’t quite feel I need the extra warmth, I use my Sweaty Betty lightweight running gloves.
- Headband – my Smartwool headband has been with me through thick and thin, and been a participant in just about every activity since the day I bought it! I’m sure people think I never take it off – it’s in pretty much every photo of me as well! It’s an essential though, I’m partially deaf, and I hate noise around my ears, so the wind needs to be blocked out and this has been the perfect tool for that.
- Neck buff – I recently read that the place where the body loses most heat is through the back of the neck, so I think it’s really important to carry a neck buff, even if it’s just for keeping warm after exercise. My boyfriend brought me this one back from Nepal, I have a Breo one too, and alternate between the two depending what colour I fancy wearing!
- Knee warmers – I always seem to have some sort of ache or pain going on in my knees, no matter how much yoga I do, there’s always something. Of course, it gets worse when it’s cold, so I use these Smartwool knee warmers to keep my knees nice and toasty – they’re designed for biking, but they are just as good for XC skiing.
- Time keeper – I’m a real menace for keeping time when I train, I’m not sure why but I like to know all the stats – I use Strava and my Breo Zone watch in lime.