Body Never Ready For Year's First Ski!
Every year when I click into my skate skis for that first ski, usually at Galena, it seems like I'm starting all over again. Even though I trail run, bike, climb, huff and puff up Baldy and all the good activities we have in Sun Valley the conditioning doesn't seem to transfer as well as I'd like. I keep considering trying roller skiing but my friends, who are good skiers, say no because they've tried it and have fallen too often and too hard.
I'm 64 and, and I hate to admit it, I'm not as resilient as I once was, but I want to me a better skate skier more than ever. I'd like to hear your views on the value of roller skiing and other activities to help prepare for the skate skiing season?
Hello, Jon Engen here hoping to help,
You are describing the discovery that cross-country skiing is a sport where you benefit greatly from out-of-season conditioning. You mention a number of outdoor fitness activities, although little specificity to skiing preparations.
Many have reservations about rollerskiing as you point out. Rightfully so, but this is highly dependent on how we use this equipment. We use the rollerskis in three major training forms; pure technique and ski-motion training, specific strength training and as "vehicles" in all the training forms covering distance. The first two are effectively done in a closed circuit or parking lot, and with proper protective equipment the risk of incident is small. Opening up to free travel is a gradual process, highly dependent on your balance and sliding-sport abilities, which is substantially related to the mentioned controlled skill training. Finally, selecting manageable courses, skiing within your limits and using good equipment and protective gear greatly improves your safety.
From what you are describing, and without chaptering out a training manual, it sounds like you would benefit from a number of other training forms we use in cross-country skiing. That would include ski specific motion training which you eventually transfer to traveling on foot, rollerskis and onto snow. That would be greatly supported, especially considering your age and already active aerobic level, by general and ski specific strength training in the great outdoors, in a gym and using simple apparatus. Finally, you may still find significant gains by establishing better training parameters for your aerobic activities and fitting these into a somewhat systematic approach suiting your active lifestyle.
You are addressing a good question, one discovered every year by many, and this is the right time of year to get started for next season !
All the best of luck,
Jon Engen, Sun Valley, ID
Jon Engen operates and www.xcskicoach.com and Sun Valley Masters; you can find them both on the web. As a "master skier," Jon competed, in the 88, 92 & 94 Olympics and has later won 12 individual World Masters titles. This experience has given him unique insight in helping other masters improve and reach their goals in year-round endurance sports. He is a certified USSA cross-country coach, personal trainer and professional engineer.