I’m on my way to Finland where I’ll be training once again. As a cross-country skier that’s what I do most of the time when I’m not competing — training, that is — although sometimes I get to travel to different places which helps make the work less arduous and more fun.

For example, not long ago I had a chance to travel down to Majorca, the Spanish island in the Mediterranean, where PokerStars helped organize several days of training for me. We were in Sóller, a town in the northwest part of the island in the mountains. We had a nice house with a chef to prepare meals and got to spend a whole week there.

This time of year it gets pretty cold in Sweden, of course. I try to do a lot of running and roller skiing (when there’s no snow), and that can be rough going sometimes when the temperatures are low. But in Majorca it was sunny and warm, which provided excellent conditions for that kind of training.

I took my family, a training buddy, and a driver, and we were there for an entire week. My training partner was a good friend of mine who formerly was part of the team, and he was great to have there to keep me going. Here he is right behind me, pushing me to climb yet another hill:

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I’d been there a couple of times before with the Swedish team, but it was nice to go down with the family and kind of combine vacationing and training. I never like having to leave my family to train or compete, so we valued being able to spend that time together.

Cross-country skiing is a sport that requires a lot of endurance, and so when we train we often do so for many hours at a time. But in Majorca we kind of approached things a little differently, making every training session like a race lasting a single interval. In other words, the workouts were fairly intense and since we were in the mountains we had to go uphill a lot over several different courses.

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I’ve been skiing now for many years, and often for training I’ll end up at the same places and following the same schedule. So it was definitely great to do something a little different and go to a new place and follow a slightly different routine for the training. The location was just perfect, too, and our chef provided us a lot of great Spanish meals while we were there, which made the trip all the better.

I think this idea of introducing some kind of variety into my training applies equally well to those who are studying poker and trying to become better players. It’s good to mix up the games you play or other parts of your routine, if only to stay interested and therefore motivated to keep going.

After getting back from Majorca I was in Italy for a short while, and now it’s on to Finland — speaking of variety — where the conditions will certainly be a lot colder than was the case in Majorca. That’s where our World Cup will be in Kuusamo at the end of November, which is my next big competition.

We’re all excited to get back to training on actual snow, though, and for the World Cup finally to get here. It’s almost time finally to “play our hands,” you might say.

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Marcus Hellner is a PokerStars SportStar

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