Ski Season Training

I am a skier. My mom’s mouth drops to the floor when I tell people that, because unfortunately this wasn’t always the case. Starting in 1996 and ending in winter of 2008, I HATED skiing. People would talk about an awesome day out on the slopes and I would roll my eyes. All of that equipment? Stupid! Expensive! Plus, It’s dangerous! These thoughts were firmly planted into my head by numerous swim coaches over the years. They said the risk of seriously injuring yourself was too high and we simply weren’t allowed to do it. Even when I would go skiing I would get so nervous that I couldn’t enjoy myself. So, I hung up my mid 90’s ski equipment and bid farewell. My dismissal of skiing was sad, but swimming was the most important athletic goal of mine and I didn’t want anything to interfere with training. Then in 2008, a few of our average joe skier friends mentioned that they wanted to do a day ski trip. I almost responded no, but then I thought about it, what was there to lose?! So that weekend we packed up the car, rented equipment at a nearby ski shop and hit the slopes at Waterville Valley Ski Resort in New Hampshire. It was a tough day, Rob and I struggled. Ultimately we left the mountain feeling like we should at least try it again. Plus, having beers after a long day on the slopes felt amazing. Since that first trip we have continued to improve and challenge ourselves, and yes, we know proudly tell people that we are skiers!

Proud Skiers since 2008

The health benefits of skiing are obvious, cardiovascular and muscular namely, but one of my favorites is exposure to vitamin D during the cold and long winter months. Skiing has made me hate winter significantly less, I actually <gasp> sort of like it now. Instead of getting angry about getting hit with 20 inches of snow (ok, that still happens sometimes…) I get excited. I start tracking snow reports at New England mountains and hit the gym to prep my legs for the inevitable burn from spending essentially an entire day in the squat position. In order to help avoid crying on the mountain and stopping every five minutes (yep…that has happened…), I work in a variety of squats, lunges, and core balance work to help ease the pain.

Me skiing in Breckinridge, Colorado March 2010

Below is roughly an hour long workout that I have developed from reading a few articles, talking to friends and basic athletic training principles.

Kim’s Fabulous Ski Season Leg Workout

Stretching– I usually do my standard series of running stretches. My favorite being any stretch or maneuver (be it stretching or using a foam roller) that involves working my IT band

Cardio – I usually pick and choose 20 minutes of the following:

  • Running– It certainly isn’t earth shattering that I add running into my ski season workout, but I usually like to do a slow warm up to get the blood flowing and then speed work to get my legs ready to tackle tough terrain! I usually will run at least 2 Miles.
  • Stairmaster– Or as some people like to call it, the stair mistress ūüôā I usually do this for at least 15 minutes if it’s my only cardio.

Squats w/ weights/Medicine Ball– This is an awesome core exercise, I highly recommend it! I usually like to hold the weight or medicine ball out like this and do 3 sets of 12 reps and on the 12th rep, I hold the squat position for 10-15 seconds to increase the burn!

Lunges w/ Dumbells or a Weighted Bar– I like to walk back and forth a gym instead of doing them in place, that way I feel like I am accomplishing something and not feeling like a caged rat! The amount of times I go back and forth is usually dependent on how I’m feeling, but as a rule of thumb I usually like to make at least two laps.

Hamstrings– When I hurt my knee this past summer, my physical therapist gave me a variety of Hamstring and Knee exercises. Many of the Hamstring exercises I do are similar to the ones listed here. I usually do the standard 3×12 reps.

Wall Sit-This helps strengthen your quads and get them ready for the burning sensation that you will feel for your day on the slopes! 2 sets of 60 seconds, and if I’m feeling ambitious, I put my hands out to increase difficulty

Leg press– These are great for strengthening your Quads, Hamstrings and Glutes. 3x 12 reps

Roman chairs– to help strengthen and avoid lower back pain, this is a pretty good visual. 3×10-12 reps w/ a 10 pound weight, and if I’m feeling frisky, I will add in side dips.

CoreCaptain’s Chairs, I usually do 6 sets of 10, mixing in legs out and legs pulled in, Plank, and when I’m feeling good I will lift up one leg at a time and hold for 10 seconds, as well as modified Side Plank Dips

All in all, I hate doing most of this stuff, I would much rather go for a run or go to a class and sweat for 60 minutes. I definitely need to credit my new found love of skiing for forcing me to do these workouts!

What are your favorite ski or general cross training exercises?

Powder on the Slopes!

Beautiful Stowe

This past Friday, after a really great work week (I was promoted on Friday, hoooray!), with my Lent/nutrition plan in full swing, and snow in the forecast, we packed our bags and went straight up to Stowe, VT. Rob and I were able to utilize my brother and sister in law’s house, which is located just outside of downtown Stowe. Since the house was empty, we invited our avid outdoor friends Greg & Paulina and Kate & Alec. Everyone was beyond thrilled to be making the three and a half hour trek up to the beautiful New England town for a chance to ski and snowboard at one of New England’s best mountains.

We got up late on Friday night, after sitting in stop and go traffic on 93 north and a lengthy stop at a belly busting Mexican joint somewhere in the¬†Lebanon, NH area. ¬†We were wiped, but that didn’t stop us from popping out of bed Saturday morning as if Santa’s gifts were waiting for us under the tree at 6:45am. Greg and Paulina were able to get to the mountain for the first chair, an impressive feat! Kate, Alec, Rob and I all strolled in shortly after 8am, and hit the mountain in order to catch some¬†corduroy!

Mount Mansfield in all it's glory

Due to icing and freezing rain issues a lot of the lifts were closed and the lines were CRAZY. As the day went on, the lines got a little better as more lifts opened up, thank goodness. Shortly after 12pm it started snowing and we were treated to snow, which just increased the beauty and amazing conditions on the mountain!

After a several runs we went inside to grab a quick lunch and then head right back out there. Since the Gondola had opened, we decided to ski over there and WOW, was it worth it! Once I skied onto the trail it looked as if I was literally skiing through a Christmas card. The pine trees were encrusted in snow and there was fresh fluffy powder everywhere you looked: absolute perfection.

Rob and Paulina Skiing down Nose Dive

The snow was actually so fresh that I had a hard time¬†maneuvering¬†in it. After a few frustrating attempts near the top of the trail, I finally eased into a pace and got into a groove, but wow did my thighs burn, Oww! After two runs off the Gondola, I was toast, so I called it quits and head into the midway lounge to join friends for an Apres ski party. I have to say, I do enjoy that drinking beers after sweating profusely and pushing my body to the limit is actually encouraged in the sport of skiing. Perhaps this is something we can bring to running on a larger scale, Apres Run anyone?!¬†After everyone filtered in around 4:30pm, we all enjoyed a beer together and then made our way to our lodging for the night, the “Winter Cottage” (my friendly nickname for my brother and sister in law’s abode.)

After a great night of sleep and we all woke up and feasted on a fantastic breakfast over at the Gables Inn. After we rolled out of breakfast¬†we all went over to the Nordic Barn on Mountain Road to rent some snow shoes, poles and snow boots. We went to this rental shop on Saturday per my sister in law’s suggestion, but I do have to say that it was by far one of the best experiences we’ve had in terms of service and atmosphere. So when we brought up the idea of snow shoeing, we made sure to head back and give them our business! The man working was great and not only got us all up to speed and demonstrated how to properly put them on, but he gave us maps and suggestions on where to go “shoein'”. Thank you Nordic Barn!

Rob and Greg Snow Shoeing

The best review and suggestion we received from the man at the Nordic Barn was for Wiesner’s Woods, a reservation land that is popular with cross country skiers and snow shoe’ers alike. We went over and had fun hiking around the snow covered trails! While snow shoeing is very different from running or skiing, it is a nice change to get outside and go for a hike and enjoy the weather. I even worked up quite the sweat when we came upon a few hilly areas of the trail. It wasn’t the most thrilling experience, but it definitely felt great to get up and get another chance to get outside. Though, afterwards I did feel a pang of jealousy when I looked through @ShredSnow’s Flickr photos of their Sunday snowboarding adventures!

Scenic Overlook from Wiesner's Woods

All in all, it was a great weekend. It was a chance to get out on some great snow and ski and snow shoe with some good friends. When I called my mother and told her about my fantastic weekend I could tell she was in disbelief. Her exact words were, “Where is Swimmykimy, and what have you done with her?!”. I told her, “Well, it’s a long winter and I’ve found a way to make it a little easier to deal with :)” I’m hoping to make it up to VT a few more times before the winter is over, but for now, I’m focusing on my impending trip to Colorado! Next post, how I’m prepping for powder in my gym work outs!

Getting in Tune with MN (Mother Nature)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w7sVSMbjyM]

My sister in law shared the sheer brilliance of this “Cross Country Snow Boarding” clip with my boyfriend and I sometime this past summer. It never fails to put a smile on my face and fill the room with my obnoxiously loud laughter.

While I don’t have the patience, nor the desire to master regular snow boarding, not to mention that of the cross country variety, I have however, been tearing up the slopes quite a bit this winter!

My first trip of the winter was to Stowe, VT, which is the idealic and picturesque definition of a ski town if I’ve ever seen one before! My boyfriend and I went up for the weekend to visit my brother and sister in law as well as get some quality time in on one of the most prestigious and beautiful mountains on the east coast.

My brother, KC & I on the top of Spruce Peak


We got an early start and for the first time in my life I skied “corduroy” (for those who aren’t skiers, it refers to shallow, closely-spaced parallel grooves in the snow made by grooming machines.) We started easy, but with the help of my brother, quickly moved onto more difficult and steeper terrain. We had a fantastic day, but by the end of it my legs were shaking uncontrollably! OWWW!

Foxy enjoying a walk through the notch with some pups

Our next trip was to Sunday River with some friends for a day of good skiing, good music and of course good times. Rob and I were still sore from hard work outs earlier in the week and some late nights so we made the decision early on to stick to easier trails and stress the social aspect of the weekend rather than pushing our skiing ability. Great weekend all around. I really feel like both of us are really getting the hang of skiing and hopefully will be really ready to challenge ourselves during our next ski trip!

Kate and Jeff Enjoying a Break on the Deck of the Foggy Goggle


Tired after a long day, but happy ūüôā

The winter I became a skier

If you ask New England residents how the feel about the winter of 2008-2009, I’m sure most of them would reply with “it’s been the longest winter in recent memory” or “I just want it to be over.” I personally despise winter, it’s a time when everyone must bundle up in 10 layers just to walk to work, suffer from dry skin from constant temperature changes, minimal day light exposure and last but not least, trudging through snow and ice. Plus, it’s difficult to get out there and run when it is 10 degrees with snow and ice. I guess I’m just not THAT dedicated. The long and short of it is, it really sucks. So as the snow keeps on falling, I found myself at a cross roads. Do I become Debbie Downer and complain about the winter every time it snows and I can’t go out to the bar because of a storm? Or, do I take up a hobby to finally embrace the cold weather? I chose the latter.

img_03661
My first ski trip in twelve years, my boyfriend, our two friends and I all went to Waterville Valley for the day. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty terrified! As for my boyfriend, it was his second time skiing and he had never taken a single lesson. The day at Waterville was tough, we both struggled gaining our balance and turning properly. That’s nothing that a quick beer break couldn’t cure! We were able to finish the day with smiles on our faces. We were both proud that we struggled through the challenges and developed comfort and refined skills out on the slopes!

img_0460Our second ski weekend we went up to Sunday River in Bethel, Maine over Presidents Day Weekend. We were excited to try out a larger mountain that had a wide variety of easier trails, instead of just a few short runs. Sadly, the wind was so fierce that most of the lifts were closed, so we decided to explore the Bethel, Maine area and relax. When we finally got to the mountain, we had to deal with trails thickly settled with families whizzing past us, and an abundance of ice. We felt like we were back to square one! We struggled through a few long runs, and then got into our groove. Sadly, we had to leave the mountain at 1pm so we could get back to Boston for plans we had that evening. Overall, it was a great trip, but we longed for better weather!

img_05111
Our latest trip was to Killington Mountain, in Killington, Vermont. We went up for the day, and skied from 10am to 3:30pm-it was an absolute blast! The conditions were extremely icy, with golfball sized ice balls sprinkled all over the trails. Despite the fact that we had to ski on ice, it was a beautiful day and it was wonderful to challenge ourselves on some more difficult terrain and conditions. During the last run of the day I looked back to my boyfriend and said “Foxy, we’re REAL skiers now!”

Skiing will never compare to running or swimming, but it feels great to just get outside and see the sun during these long winter months! It makes me look towards winter snow storms and think “Wow, I wish I were skiing!” Instead of, “great, now I have to trudge to work in this stuff”