Return To Nature With Healthy Routines
Tons of hype goes around pre-season training and bulking up the “ski legs” before the snow hits in early winter. If you missed that train, no worries! Start your momentum now as the snow continues to pile up, and keep that health routine rolling all winter. In past seasons, I’ve focused on the pre-season training then focused simply on the skiing during winter. As we all should! However, lately my outlook has shifted to developing healthy year round habits along with a boost in training prior to the kick-off of winter.
Photo By: Hillary Mayberry
When winter gets underway, many of us are traveling chasing the snow. Some of us are cramming in as many work hours as possible so when the snow is good we can play hooky to ski the goods. Others are enticed to the apre all night scene. Often, we find ourselves in each of these scenarios over the course of ski season and the health routines are on a roller coaster ride. Here’s a breakdown of my focus for developing a year-long health routine to crush all ski season. It’s about balance between body, mind, nutrition, and synergy with intention.
Self Love and Chill Out
Give yourself a break. Recovery is essential. Living in Idaho the past few years, I’ve formed a habit of spending rest days soaking in the local geothermal hot springs quite literally down by the river. Getting the guts to dip in the icey river water then back to the hot spring flushes the blood through the body adding a dose of oxygen to the muscles and joints. Sitting still to listen to the sounds of nature is magical and completely free, it only costs the time to slow down and enjoy simplicity. Taking the time to reflect on gratitude nurtures a positive mindset which translates to day to day life. If you aren’t next door to a hot spring, yoga and simple stretching with meditation works wonders. Check out this Icey bikini!
Photo By: Emily Tidwell
Everyone talks about them - goals, intentions, purpose, it’s all about manifesting your desires. At the start to every season, I write out overall intentions for the season in general terms, like keep it fun, be a reliable partner in the backcountry, improve my technical ski mountaineering skills, connect with nature, and so on. I think about creating purpose and meaning. Then it’s time to break down specific goals. This is how progress is initiated. Goals that are specific, timely, attainable are way more likely to be reached. The key ingredient with success after goals is ACTION. For example, one of my five year goals is to become a certified American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) ski guide. The first step for me this winter is to complete the Avalanche Pro 1 course, and I’ve been studying everyday prepping for the certification this December. To find avalanche education in your area, check out avalanche.org.
Multiple times a year, I sit down and write out goals in each area of my life to continually progress, maintain balance and check in. I aim to balance my focus between physical/health, emotional/social, intellectual/professional and spiritual. Reaching goals is similar to navigation in the backcountry in the sense that you choose a destination, create a route from you’re current status, and begin acquiring the skills and knowledge required to reach the new destination.
Photo By: Jeremy Lato
Let’s take it up a notch in education ourselves where our food comes from and how that affects the environment AND our bodies. Eating healthy is essential to maintaining a high performance body and mind. I try to be as cognizant as possible about what food I consume. The simplest way for me to ensure I’m eating clean meals is to cook for myself. At the store I buy organic fruits and vegetables along with healthy grains. At home I eat meat from an elk or deer my partner hunted or from an animal my parents raised on our family’s small ranch. Respect for the animal and knowing it lived a healthy happy life is important to me.
Jumpstart the day. Every morning I drink coffee, water and make a smoothie. Nutrient dense smoothies jam packed with power foods to fire up the muscles for a big day. The staple ingredients: banana, blueberries, spinach, plain greek yogurt, ginger root, raw turmeric, local raw honey, organic grains protein powder, natural herbal vitamin supplements and orange juice.
Photo By: Eric Sales
Strong, Resilient Body
Skiing is always better when the body is healthy and strong. Consistency is the lasting factor that keeps your body firing all season. The hard core leg workouts in the fall are important, but developing a long term fitness plan keeps the performance level high. My physical training routine is year round. As a person who has had two ACL reconstructive surgeries, injured neck, shoulders, and various broken bones, strong muscles are top priority for injury prevention. I’ve formed the habit of continuing physical therapy exercises throughout the ski season that target proprioceptor muscles, balance, and strength to those specific body parts.
Leading up to ski season, I work with the strength and conditioning coach of MTNRDY to build muscle and endurance for long uphill climbs followed by steep descents. The program progresses with goals of training the muscles to tolerate and flush out the lactic acid during high intensity ski descents. Added in this year is a major focus on upper body, back, and core for snowmobiling. As a 125 pound gal, it takes a heap of muscle, determination, and strategy to move and lift a 400 pound machine. Pushups here I come!
Photo By: Hillary Mayberry
Summer is the best for building stamina. I worked as a backpacking guide all summer and fall which had me hiking through the mountains 5-10 miles a day carrying 40-80 pound packs. When I’m not backpacking, mountain biking is the ultimate cross-training (and simply fun!) I love the synergy of body and mind during mountain biking which emulate the experience during skiing. The body is exerting energy and connecting the mind which is firing as fast as you can ride taking in every obstacle and corner along the way.
How are body and mind communicate to fire in harmony is critical for smooth shredding. As a coach for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation big mountain and backcountry team, I’ve been joining the kids on the trampolines. Learning new tricks that we may never try on snow still helps with air awareness. When you get bucked backseat and sideways off a mogul, how you recover in the air to land on your feet. I highly recommend hitting a trampoline gym for some bounce time.
As winter revs up, I hope you find time to return to nature to recenter with yourself as well as shredding as much powder as humanly possible!
-Icey Athlete, Amy David