Hey! It’s Tuesday evening, the impressions from my training camp are beginning to sink in and the effects of two weeks of consistent training aswell. After spending two weeks living as a pro athlete I’ve concluded with two things:
- The tiny elite who live of this are a group of extremely privileged individuals who do what they love the most for a living and travel the world
- Being a pro athlete is more exhausting than you would think and you have to put most other things aside
During my last week training kept on with more focus on long low intensity sessions of technical high quality and getting the feel for snow again. In other words, not very different from the first week with about 2,5 – 3 hours ski sessions every morning and running/strength in the evening. The only difference was probably that I now was well acclimatized to the height. During my second week, my background and story had begun to spread amongst the locals. Resulting in an interview with the responsibles for the Val Senales ski resort. Portugal and cross country being unknown for everyone keeps confirming itself. In my talk with them we discussed my background and short- and long-term goals for my skiing career and ambitions for the sport in Portugal. During my second week, Norwegian National Team coach Tor-Arne Hetland dedicated some time to give me lessons in diagonal technique. It’s amazing how much difference a little feedback can do!! I would like to thank everyone from the Norwegian team for lots of support!!
On my last day I managed to get a few minutes and interview Norwegian National Team athlete Finn Hågen Krogh regarding how he views life as a pro athlete. Enjoy!
What is the best and worst part of being a pro athlete?
The best part I would definitely say, is the team. The rest of the guys on the team have become some of my best friends and we have lots of fun travelling together. Training wise we motivate each other a lot contribute to each other’s development as skiers. This has without doubt been the best part of being on the National Team.
The worst part I would say is that this lifestyle requires you to be 100 % every day, and it can sometimes be hard to maintain that level of motivation. You have to be the best from the second you get out of bed, you have to be the best already at breakfast! If you’re not hungry, so what you have to eat according to schedule. Of course some days are easier, and others are harder but we have chosen this ourselves and it’s all worth it when winter comes and you see results from the work that’s been put in. One thing is for sure and that is that being a pro skier is way of life and that every decision I make is based on how it affects my performance. This is not a hobby, it started as a hobby but now it’s 24/7. Of course everyone has to just completely switch off sometimes but in general it’s non stop.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have of your everyday as an athlete?
I think most people have the idea that the majority of our training is done at high intensity and that nobody can keep up with us on a long easy run or easy ski trip. On our long runs we run a lot slower (120 – 140 bpm) than people think. On skis we have the advantage of technique and good skis but running is running and most people could keep up on a slow run. If you have a decent ski technique you could probably keep up on a slow trip too I guess.
What is the biggest sacrifice or the hardest thing you’ve had to say no to because of your ski career?
That must be all the friends back at home that I unfortunately do not have that much time for. Because of our large training volumes, I’m often tired and even just going over to a friend’s house can be a hassle. This causes one to maybe isolate a bit because restitution is critical. On the other hand, I chose this lifestyle myself and every skier knows this is what it takes to make it to the top. The hard truth is if you’re not willing to sacrifice that, there is no place for you at this level of sports.
What advice would you give younger athletes who wish to aspire to the highest level of sports like the National Team?
I would say to focus on constantly developing yourself and being curious of “how can I become a better skier?” Dare to go your own ways and don’t just follow advice blindly, because there will be a lot of advice. Sometimes too many advices! At the same time stay humble to those more experienced, reflection is the key and learning from own actions and experiences. I can’t talk to Sundby and do what he does but I can take advice from him. You’ve got to find what works for you, be independent and take responsibility for your own development, be honest with yourself and stay humble. Doing these things, I believe you can develop your potential every year. Specially for younger skiers I would say patience is very important. I was not a top performer when I was around 14/15 (Hovedlandsrenn in Norwegian) For some it just takes more time, for others it’s naturally there. What matters is to not give up just because you’re not that good as a kid. It makes me sad to see people quit too soon.
How does the ski career affect your personal/family life and what has friends and family meant to you?
My family has meant everything, mum and dad took me skiing when I was just a little kid and that’s where everything started, the pure joy of skiing. They’ve supported me ever since, taken me to practice, prepped my skis etc. They’ve been there every step of the way and for that, I am eternally grateful! Regarding friends I’ve gained a lot of great friends in the skiing community. Many of my friends have or still do cross country skiing. This helps as it is easier for someone in the community to understand when I do not have energy to be social and so on. On the other side I do not expect many people to understand how it is to be a pro athlete. I’m not sure everyone understands what it takes.
How old were you when you decided to dedicate yourself 100 % to cross country, what was the deciding factor/motivation and what motivates you today?
It was during my junior (16 – 19) years I really developed as a skier. From being maybe top 50 one or two times at age 14/15 I made great progress as a junior and after a couple of years I was a top performer. This is when I realized that here is where my talent lies. When I was accepted into the junior National Team the decision was for all purposes made by itself. I am a results motivated person, at least that is what I have become, not sure I remember quite what motivated me 10 years ago. I enjoy achieving good results, this motivates me on training even when things are getting tough and motivation is low. In these times I tell myself that “If I do this today it might gain me a second faster time during a race in the season”. Of course I love training and the sport a lot but the biggest motivation for me is results…maybe that’s the kind of things you’re not supposed to say but hey I’ve got to be honest!
Thanks for your time Finn and best of luck for the coming season!
My first race of the season is already this Saturday, more info will come soon 😀