Incorporating XC Skiing into training plan

I’m fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your perspective) to live in Minnesota, where winter is literally 6 months long. I’m not a winter cyclist and fat bikes don’t interest me, so I use XC skiing and SUF to stay fit/keep off weight/maintain sanity.

My question is about intensity: XC skiing (especially skate-skiing–which is what I mostly do) puts me at Threshold HR or above pretty consistently, which means I can’t go very often or very long (typically under an hour).

I’ve been doing Sufferfest for a couple years now and really enjoy it. Overall I’m riding ~4500 miles/year (including indoor rides) and feel fit and competitive even at 53 thanks to the structured training plans and I don’t want to mess things up.

However, I’m wondering if whilst doing a plan I could substitute the “intensity” days on the bike with XC skiing to get myself out of the basement 2-3 times/week. Then pain cave days would be longer endurance efforts and/or technique (cadence, etc.) plus strength training/yoga.

Interested to hear other “frozen chosen” folks on the pros/cons of this strategy.


Hey Michael!
I’ve got a similar situation here in southern Bavaria, or at least during the winter months. Fortunate to have XC Ski tracks from worldcups, biathlon (Ruhpolding etc) close by.
I’ve started skating last winter and I’m quite hooked. Also I know a couple of pro riders from Bora Hansgrohe (also based here in the region) who use Skating as Alternative Sport in the winter.
I had the same problem as you, ditched my Training plan for skating last year.
However, I guess the approach you’re suggesting makes sense, base training zone 2 on bike, vo2 max on snow.
Would love to hear some other thoughts on this topic.
All the best from the Bavarian alps all the way to Minnesota!