Seiser Alm & Livigno training camp

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Me and Barbro climbing Stelvio.

Seiser Alm and Livigno are both beloved destinations for cross country skiing athletes of all levels. These two Italian alp villages complement each other in terms of character and facilities and make a great combination for a training vacation/camp. While Seiser Alm is quiet (and out of this world beautiful) and has amazing trails and scenery for running, Livigno is more of a happening place with (tax free) shops, cafés/restaurants and the best roller ski and biking opportunities.

Here you will get the details of the training we did during a 9-day September training camp as well as some alternatives tried out over the years. The purpose is to guide you to the best locations for performing various sessions, such as interval training and long low intensity sessions. Non of us being top level athletes, our choice of activities has been guided by a desire to explore the beautiful surroundings as well as obtaining great workouts. You may (and should) of course use the information provided to tailor your activities to your own level of fitness and purpose of the trip.

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Seiser Alm meadow.

Please note that both Seiser Alm and Livigno are high altitude destinations and your performance will be affected. In short this means you should go slower than you normally do on low-intensity activities and avoid doing much high intensity training, especially the first 3-4 days, and when introduced, preferably low threshold. More on high altitude training here (Norwegian). It is not uncommon to feel dizziness after a high altitude workout if you go too hard and you may not get full benefit of the rest of your training camp. 

Day 1 – Seiser Alm (arrival day)

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We started our camp in Seiser Alm. You can read more about Seiser Alm, including accommodation recommendations, here. Traveling to Seiser Alm from Norway (or any other place requiring you to fly) usually takes almost a day and you are lucky if you arrive by sunset. We arrived just in time to stretch our legs by doing a short and easy jog on the meadow which was covered with a thin layer of wet snow. That’s the thing about Seiser Alm. Its location more than 1800 meters above sea level means weather and temperatures change quickly and you can experience snow even during summer months.

Strava for details: Snowjogging on Seiser Alm

Day 2 – Seiser Alm

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Waking up on our first full day in Seiser Alm, the meadow was still covered in snow, but the sun was shining and we chose to go for the planned long run taking us over the Denti Rossi to Rifugio Alpe di Tires and the Schiliar/Schlern plateau. This is a beautiful long run which is always on my itinerary when in Seiser Alm. We started out running in snow, but by the time we were back on the meadow a few hours later summer temperatures had arrived. Take time for an espresso at Rifugio Alpe di Tires and lunch at Rifugio Bolzano

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Strava for details: Seiser Alm classic long run

In the afternoon we took the bus down to Kastelruth and did an easy uphill roller ski session. You can also do the same hill workout by taking the cable car from Seiser Alm to Seis, which adds about 140 meters of ascent. The climb has been used for tempo stages during Giro d’Italia and has a profile great for interval training on roller skis and beautiful views. 

Strava for details: Uphill roller ski session

Day 3 – Seiser Alm

 

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Roller skiing with a view.

On our third day we put on the roller skis again and took the cable car to Seis for an interval session. After warming up from Seis to Hotel Valentinerhof we did 7×6 minutes low threshold classic technique.

Strava for details: Rollerski interval: 7×6 min

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Bulaccia with a view of Sasso Lungo and Sasso Piatto

Our second session of the day we explored Bulaccia, the northern meadow of Seiser Alm, running with poles in the soft afternoon light. Some of us took the cable car going down to save the legs.

 

Strava for details: Bulaccia run

Day 4 – Seiser Alm

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Girls’ trip

The highlight of our stay in Seiser Alm was the long run around Sasso Piatto and Sasso Lungo. I would say this is the running equivalent to Sella Ronda on bike, providing you with amazing views of the Dolomites from so many angles. We took the bus to Saltria (about 5-10 minutes from Compatsch) and the Florian chair lift to Williams Hütte, from where we started our run 2100 m.a.s.l. and clockwise around Sasso Piatto/Sasso Lungo. We stopped for lunch at Rifugio Sasso Piatto and continued to Rifugio Alpe di Tires and returned to Compatsch through the Denti Rossi pass. This is truly an amazing run, which of course may be divided in several parts if you are not up for the full length of it. You can also extend the run by either adding the climb to the peak of Sasso Piatto or/and continue over the Schiliar plateau after Rifugio Alpe di Tires.IMG_0373

 

 

Strava for details: Sasso Piatto/Lungo and Denti Rossi

Day 5 – Transport via Stelvio to Livigno

The obligatory part of the transfer from Seiser Alm to Livigno is the mother of all roller ski workouts, the Stelvio climb. If you don’t have a support car, the practical way to do this session is to drive to the top of the Stelvio pass and take a bus down to your preferred side of the pass, either the Prato side or the Bormio side, leaving the car with warm clothes etc at the top. Each climb is great, with spectacular views and, if you can’t go easy on it, exhaustion guarantee. During this camp we did the Prato side, starting from Gomagoi at 1280 m.a.s.l., providing about 1500 meters of ascent and 18.5 km to the top of the Stelvio pass as 2575 m.a.s.l. We chose to tackle the climb by doing an interval session of 5×20 + 10 minutes below lactate threshold. 

Strava for details: Stelvio climb, Prato side

 

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Melina climbing Stelvio from the Prato side.

Strava for details: Stelvio climb from Bormio

 

Please note that the bus service on the Bormio side is only available in July and August. You may contact the bus service Perego for information. For bus down from Stelvio on the Prato side, go here.

If you prefer to conquer Stelvio on bike, you can rent a bike at Mapo Bike in Valdidentro (a few kilometers from Bormio). If you want to stay a few days to explore the area and perhaps tackle Stelvio running, skiing and biking, one of my favorite hotels in the Alps is just next to Mapo Bike, Alpen Hotel. Personally I had my best session in Stelvio running up from Bormio.

Strava for details: Stelvio run  

Day 6 – Livigno

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Livigno roller ski paths.

Livigno is roller ski mecca with an extensive network of cycle paths protected from the traffic as well as mountain passes where you can work on your O2 levels and return safely by bus if you don’t want to ski down or have a support car. On our first day in Livigno we chose to do an easy flat roller ski session to recover from the Stelvio challenge.

 

Strava for details: Livigno roller ski

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Favorite Livigno trails.

Livigno also has a tremendous network of trails for running as well as mountain biking. There is no limit other than your fitness level as to where you can go, and even if I have visited 5-6 times there are new trails to explore. Our favorite trail for short recovery runs is the trail just above the centre providing you with great views of Livigno. You can enter the trail directly from several places in the village or my preferred entry at the south end of the village, where you can also find parking. 

Strava for details: Livigno trail 

Day 7 – Livigno

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On our way to Corna di Capra.

After a “rest” day it was time to do a longer session again and we decided on a run that would take us to a +3000 meter peak, Corna di Capra. We chose to drive to the trailhead just south of the village (you can also run directly from the village). Although containing a lot of ascent this run also has long runable sections and truly beautiful surroundings as well as the added satisfaction of reaching the peak at 3016 m.a.s.l.

 

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Strava for details: Corna di Capra skyrun

 

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Marthe at the top of Corna di Capra.

For an alternative long run you can take the cable car to Costaccia from the city centre and run south along the ridge following trail 162 and then 157 passing Causello 3000 and Involt dali Resa before descending back to the city centre.

Strava for details: Livigno skyrun

Our second workout of the day was a double poling session, which included the climb up to Passo Eira. From Passo Eira you can take a free bus down to Livigno (check the schedule in advance). As an alternative to the Eira ascent you can also roll up to the Forcola pass.

Strava for details: Livigno & Passo Eira roller ski + Livigno – Forcola

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Afternoon roller ski session to Passo Eira.

Day 8 – Livigno

Towards the end of a training camp like this adjustments to the training plan may be adequate due to energy levels, strain on legs or other reasons. For some, including me, that meant replacing a running session with yet another roll to Passo Eira, this time using kicks and not just double poling. In the afternoon we did a strength session.

Strava for details: Passo Eira roller skiing

Day 9 – Livigno

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Val Federia.

Last full day in Livigno and the training plan said low threshold running in Val Federia. Low on energy and with the rain pouring down, I chose to go easy on the trails instead. However, Val Federia is great for this kind of effort and having done a similar workout in 2016, I still have the appropriate Strava details to guide you. To reach Val Federia you can either drive to the parking provided at the trailhead, or run from the hotel as warm-up. Remember the altitude and go easy!

 

Strava for details: 5x(5x1min/15sec) running with poles

Livigno Accommodation & Restaurants

When in Livigno my choice of hotel is Hotel Larice, which is one of several hotels forming the Bivio Life Livigno group, where you can find Hotel Bivio (often used by the Norwegian national team) and Alpen Village Hotel, which specifically caters towards training groups of all sports. Larice is a small eco boutique hotel with amazing atmosphere, great rooms, personal service, superb breakfast and the best location. I love to hang out in the coffee bar out front in between training sessions.

My three favorite restaurants are all in or close to Hotel Larice: The burger restaurant Why Not, in via Botarel (across the street from Larice), Focolare, the pizzeria next door, and the restaurant at Larice, which serves sushi as well as Italian dishes.

Cycling in Livigno

Livigno has an amazing downhill bike park (never tried) and is often used for training camps by top level athletes of both road cycling and mtb. Bikes can be rented from several bike shops in Livigno. If you are into climbs and mountain passes see the strava link below for a beautiful ride my friend Maren did, going from Livigno over Passo Eira to Bormio and up to Passo Stelvio and via Passo Fuorn back to Livigno. Another alternative is the course of the ICON ironman triathlon taking place in Livigno in August, which takes you up to the Forcola pass, into Switzerland to climb the Bernina Pass before going down to St. Moritz and Zernez and via the Fuorn, Stelvio and Foscagno passes back to Livigno.

Strava for details: Long ride – Foscagno, Stelvio, Fuorn

For a beginners mtb trail, try the circuit we did with Fabrizio at MTB Livigno a few years back.

Strava for details: MTB flow

Getting There

Munich, Zürich and Innsbruck are convenient airports to fly into if you would like to combine Seiser Alm and Livigno. Innsbruck makes for a shorter drive, but often you have to accept transfer flights to get there. You will need to rent a car.

Munich Airport – Seiser Alm: 3:30, Zürich Airport – Seiser Alm: 4:30 and Innsbruck – Seiser Alm 1:45. Munich Airport – Livigno: 4:30, Zürich Airport – Livigno: 3:15, Innsbruck – Livigno: 2:45. The drive from Seiser Alm to Livigno is about 3 hours. 

Andøya – Arctic Road Trip Day 8 and 9

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Høyvika, Andøya

Andøya is one of the islands forming the Vesterålen archipelago. In the summer you can take advantage of the ferry connecting Andøya and Senja, which makes for a scenic road trip along the coast as opposed to the main inland route, E6. 

Andøya has amazing beaches and is a great playground for road cycling, roller skiing, trailrunning and kayaking. It also offers tourist attractions such as whale safari, bird safari and the Aurora Space Ship, which unfortunately is closed down in 2019. 

I was there for the amazing trails around Måtind, a much photographed peak just south of the fishing village, Bleik, and to go roller skiing along the national scenic route on the west coast of Andøya. 

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Måtinden, with the view of the bird island, Bleiksøya.

The Trails

The coastal trail from Bleik to Stave, which passes Måtinden at 408 meters above sea level, is about 9 km. You can also reach Måtinden from Baugtua, a trailhead starting from a parking about midway on FV976 between Stave and Bleik.

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I did a return run to Måtinden from Stave beach and added a loop on the plateau behind Måtinden. From Stave most of the climb is at the beginning of the run, providing you with magnificent views of the Stave beach and village from the start and, after the first steep climb, you are rewarded with a great view of the beach Høyvika. To reach Måtinden you continue north. It is not always obvious where the path goes, but unless you are caught by the fog (as I was at the end of the run) it is easy to see where you are going and the terrain is easy and fun to overcome off-track. Once at the peak of Måtinden you have great views of Bleiksøya, a small characteristic bird island housing thousands of puffins as well as eagles. 

Strava for details: Måtinden trail runIMG_0470

 

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Rollerskiing and cycling

The national scenic route   along the west coast is almost flat and excellent for rollerskiing as well as cycling. I jumped out of the car at the west junction of FV974 and FV973 and roller skied the 30 kilometers to Stave beach, where we had rented an apartment (see below). After about 12 kilometer you reach the view point Bukkekjerka, and after another 10 kilometer you ski on a breakwater with the ocean on your left and the Skogvoll lake on your right. Another 7 kilometer and you reach the village of Stave while the road continues for additional 20 kilometers all the way up to Andenes, if you would like to go further.

Strava for details: Andøya rollerskiingProcessed with VSCO with l5 preset

 

Where to Stay

We stayed at Stave Camping in a one-bedroom fully-equipped apartment (sleeps 6) called the Shipwreck. The location was absolutely great and if you have the weather on your side, this is the place to be for sunset/midnight sun.

The Drive

The drive from Nyksund to Stave is about 2.5 hours and 140 kilometers. You will pass by Sortland again. Please see previous post on information about Sortland. Make sure you take time to stop at the view points provided, such as Bukkekjerka (mentioned above) and, when driving to Andenes for the ferry to Senja, Kleivodden.

The ferry between Andenes in Andøya and Gryllefjord in Senja takes about two hours and runs only in the summer. You can check the schedule here.

Inderøya – Rabothytta – Arctic Road Trip Day 3

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Rabothytta

From Inderøya, continuing your drive towards the arctic circle, one obvious choice would be the coastal route, which starts in Steinkjer and runs along the coast all the way up to Bodø. Having explored the southern part of the coastal route before, this time I went for the much faster, but oh so boring, drive along the route E6, as one of my main targets for this road trip was the architectural gem, Rabothytta (the Rabot cabin), which is one of many DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) lodging facilities throughout Norway. This turned out to be a really amazing experience, which I will get back to below.

Exploring Inderøya

Considering the long drive, you may want to get your heart rate up exploring Inderøya in the morning. I went for a short and sweet roller ski workout north along route 761. If you opt for a longer workout, taking the other direction, towards Mosvika, would allow you to get a taste of ski legend Petter Northug’s training ground and the beautiful Skarnsund bridge. Another great way to explore the area would be a run along the 16 km long coastal trail between Vangshylla and Straumen.

Strava for details: Inderøya roller ski

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Rollerskiing at Inderøya

In any case, make sure you drop by some of the local entrepreneurs, such as Gangstad Gårdsysteri (ice cream/cheese). Look up The Golden Road for more information.

The Drive

The drive from Inderøya to the starting point for the hike to Rabothytta is 355km and about 5h 30min, the last part on roads with poor conditions. There are not so many things to do or see on this drive, so stack up on podcasts and snacks, or spend a few more days and opt for the coastal route. I suggest stopping in Mosjøen (after about 4 hours drive) for a proper meal before the final part of the drive and the hike towards the cabin. Make sure you reach the starting point in time for completing the hike in daylight (which of course is no trouble in the summer).

The Rabot Cabin

Located 1200 meters above sea level near the mountain range Okstindan and the Okstindan glacier, the cabin was designed by Jarmund/Vigsnæs and completed in 2014. The cabin is named after the French glaciologist and geographer Charles Rabot who thoroughly explored the mountain areas in the 1880s.

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The cabin is self-served, which means you have to bring all the food you need for your stay as well as sleeping bag or bed linen. There are beds for 30 people and reservations should be made in advance.

The hike to the Rabot cabin starts from the parking space at the upper end of Leirskardalen and is about 5 km with 520 meters of incline (about one hour hike, if you are in good shape). The trail is well marked with red Ts, however, there is also a well marked trail from the same parking on the wrong side of the river, so you want to make sure you take the trail on the left side of the river (facing uphill). Despite taking the wrong trail and having to run all the way back to the starting point, this was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done: The views of the green valley in the evening sun was like nothing I have seen before, the thunder from the mighty river, and the incredible sight of the cabin resting in the sun with the glacier and mountains surrounding it, when I finally reached my destination.

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Strava for details: Rabothytta (with all the wrong turns). Look at the last 65 minutes for the right trail.

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Once there, you want to explore the cabin and the surroundings from the inside as well as the outside, from every angle. The weather can extremely tough in this area, this night however, the sun was shining almost the whole night and you felt like an idiot going to bed. Had I known that I would win the jackpot weather, for sure I would have brought a sleeping bag to sleep outside on the terrace.

The Rabot cabin may also be visited in the winter and the surrounding area is very popular for randonee skiing (even in the summer, although you have to carry your skis for a while).

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Seiser Alm

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Seiser Alm is Europe’s largest high-altitude pasture, located in the heart of the Dolomites in the Italian Alps. For a long time it has been a training destination for endurance athletes, such as Scandinavian cross country skiers, aiming for improved performance, but, stunningly beautiful as it is, it is also attracting outdoor-loving tourists in general. 

What Makes It So Special?

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is surrounded by dramatic mountain peaks and its trademark mountain, the Schiliar (or Schlern in German). Any direction you turn would qualify for a postcard and there are multiple trails ranging from easy to moderate in terms of technical difficulty, including a running park with signposted routes of different length and effort. The area is very peaceful thanks to driving restrictions.

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The Trails

Let´s skip straight to the important stuff, the best trails! Here are my suggestions for three long trail runs.

The Classic – Denti Rossi & Schiliar

 

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This run will take you over the pointy red teeth to the Rifugio Alpe di Tires. Grab an espresso “al banco” and maybe a piece of apple strudel, fill up your bottles and enjoy the easy flow trails behind the Denti Rossi before some more uphill running take you to the plateau of Schiliar. Take a short detour to Forcella di Terrarossa, if you are collecting peaks, before cruising over to Rifugio Bolzano for some kaiserschmarrn for lunch, before or after collecting your second peak for the day, Monte Pez. Returning downhill to your starting point you will enjoy a fabulous view of Seiser Alm and the Sasso Lungo/Langkofel and Sasso Piatto/Plattkofel.

Strava for details: Denti di Terrarossa & Schiliar 

More information here.

Sasso Piatto

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To reach this almost 3000 meter above sea level high peak you can cheat by taking the chair lift from Saltria (a ten minutes bus ride from Compatsch), or you can choose the longer and more scenic route crossing the pastures and multiple bottle holes on your way to Rifugio Sasso Piatto, where the steep, but fairly easy, climb to the top starts. Watch your steps once on the top, enjoy the view and make sure to do your instagramming before returning to the rifugio for lunch. To add some variety to the run, choose the “backside” of the ridge on the return to your starting point.

Strava for details: Sasso Piatto

More information here

The Long Run – around Sasso Piatto and Sasso Lungo

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I tried this run for the first time last year and it immediately became my favorite in Seiser Alm as it is more “runable” than the other routes and provides stunning views of the Dolomites from a variety of angels. You can add the climb to Sasso Piatto (see previous run) if you wish. I like to start this run with the chair lift from Saltria, then I run clockwise around the peaks and take the “backside” from the Rifugio Sasso Piatto back to Compatsch. You may choose the slightly shorter Dialer trail or run via Rifugio Alpe di Tires.  

Strava for details: Around Sasso Piatto/Sasso Lungo (Dialer return), Around Sasso Piatto/Sasso Lungo (Alpe di Tires return)

More information here.

Races To Join

Rosengarten Skymarathon is a long distance skyrace consisting of 44 kilometer and 2980 meter elevation gain (main race), with starting point in Tiers – Saint Cyprian. The track passes by Rifugio Alpe di Tires and Rifugio Bolzano. In 2019 the race will take place 13 July. I will be on the starting line. Will you? 

Seiser Alm Half Marathon runs on non-technical paths across the pastures of Seiser Alm. Its 21 kilometer consist of 601 meters of elevation gain. Start and finish are in Compatsch. In 2019 the race will take place on 7 July.

What Else?

The road from Seis and Kastelruth to Seiser Alm provides a great climb for roller ski. Take the bus from Compatsch to Kastelruth or the cable car from Compatsch to Seis and roll up. 

Strava for details: Seis – Seiser Alm roller ski

And why not rent a road bike and do the legendary Sella Ronda round? We did! The best rental bikes are in Corvara.

Strava for details: Sella Ronda

Your Carbo-fix

Most hotels offer half-board accommodation, thus, except for your meal on the run, usually had at the nearest rifugio, restaurant advice is not much needed. However, should you find the time, make sure you have kaiserschmarrn, or a full meal, at Gostner Schwaige.

Hotel Recommendations

There are several nice hotels on Seiser Alm ranging from basic to luxury. What most of them have in common is that they need to be booked early, especially during high season. I have personally tried all hotels listed below, except for Alpenhotel Panorama, and have enjoyed each one of them. If you are looking for cheap, basic accommodation, try the conveniently located Piccolo Hotel Schiliar or some of the nearby rifugios.

Hotel Goldknopf – for the view and nicely designed rooms.

Hotel Steger Dellai – for the traditional Tyrolean experience.

Sporthotel Sonne, – for their deluxe suites.

Hotel Icaro, – for nice atmosphere.

Alpenhotel Panorama – for suberb location and reasonably priced rooms.

Make It a Tour

Although Seiser Alm is the most beautiful place, after a few days you have covered the area. If you fancy more mountains and maybe some great roller ski or bicycling opportunities, combine Seiser Alm with Livigno (will be covered in a later post). Fancy the beach? Go to Lago Garda or Lago Como.