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 🙂 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?

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.

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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!

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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”