Essential Gear
Salomon Pilot Racing Skate 9 boots, Almgrens Nordic Skates, Salomon Pilot bindings. This package provides comfort, convenience and much more ankle support than conventional speed skating boots. The blades are long and flat for smooth, straight gliding. The backs of the blades also hinge away from the boots for a longer power stroke.

For these and other equipment options, visit

Jeff Harris

The Training Program

Fifty kilometers (31 miles) is a nice, challenging distance that you can aim to finish in less than 3 hours. (Our reporter tried the 50-K at Weissensee with no previous marathon skating experience and felt so good he did 33 kilometers more.) If you'd like to complete 50 kilometers comfortably, you should devote at least 5 hours per week (for 5 weeks) to conditioning. A combination of bicycling (indoor or outdoor) and inline skating is best, assuming you don't have access to a large expanse of ice. According to Mark Kandola, U.S. marathon masters champ, your training goal should be to build endurance gradually until you can skate continuously for 1 1/2 hours, or for half your expected finish time. He also recommends five-wheel inline skates to better approximate the feel of the long (50 centimeter), marathon-style ice blades.

Monday: 1 hour cycling

Tuesday: 1 hour inline skating (focus on essential skills, below)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 1 hour cycling

Friday: Any aerobic or weight-lifting activity you normally do. (Leg presses and stepups are great preparation. A rowing machine helps strengthen back muscles.)

Saturday: Long, endurance day. Bicycle or inline skate for 2 hours, stopping as necessary to stretch, drink, and eat.

Sunday: Rest As the event nears, it's important to log some ice time with the skates you'll be using, even if it's only on a public rink.

The Essential Skills

This is the most efficient position for distance skating: Clasp your hands behind your back, lean forward 45 degrees, and make long, smooth leg strokes. This position rests your arms, balances the upper body, and minimizes wind drag. To conserve energy, "draft" another skater. Close in cautiously behind him, then match him stride for stride from about an arm's-length distance.

As you approach a turn, lean in slightly and start pushing off longer and stronger with your outside foot. At the same time, release your outside arm so it can swing to balance your leg strokes.

Stand up to increase wind resistance. Angle the tips of both blades slightly inward while pushing the backs of the blades slightly outward. It's the same technique used to snowplow on skis.


Illustrations by Trevor Johnston

Marathon Skating Home | Train | Go!

The Challenge Club
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