Big-Time Fun: Week of Skiing, Running & Camraderie


Last week was an incredibly fun and highly active week of alpine skiing, Nordic skiing (2nd time in my life), running and much fun with friends. I haven’t had that much fun in a while. It was the Colorado lifestyle in full-effect. It was Nirvana! Bliss! Unimagined delight! Insert your own superlative here! Weeks like this are why we moved here.

A bunch of people from the DC/VA area came out and we stayed in Pagosa Springs, CO. Got up there Saturday and I did my long run on Sunday, followed by a recovery run on Monday and we checked out the town of Durango which was really cool. Can’t wait to get back there for mt. biking, rafting, etc. in the warm(er) weather.

The next day a bunch of us got out on the Nordic track at Wolf Creek ski resort. That was an ass-kicker of a fun deal! I don’t think I did too badly for a newcomer. There’s a smooth flow and glide thing that happens when you’re moving correctly. I’ve definitely found a new must-do activity! (Fortunately, XC skis and boots cost a lot less than downhill gear. The wife and I are planning on a hut trip next year with one of my former clients and some of her friends. We now have a legit reason to get into this gig.)


Weeeeeeeeeeee heeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!

Day after that was downhill time. Unfortunately, in a place known for fantastic snow, the conditions weren’t great–but they were OK. (Our East Coast friends loved it though. Anything out here beats anything out there it seems. Another good reason to live in CO!) I had a blast out there despite the conditions. My Volkl AC50s were perfect for the hard packed conditions. It’s like having two Millennium Falcons strapped to my feet.  Groomers at warp speed were beautifully sublime and they were really good in the trees and bumps as well.

Our last ski excursion was to Monarch. They had several inches of snow the night before and it was… Well…  I truly don’t have words for it. Take absolute perfection and then ramp it up about 2000%. That’s what the day was there.

I demoed the K2 Sidestash. I got them at the Mt. Shavano Ski Shop. I talked to them over the phone the day prior, told them what I usually ski and that I wanted to try something a little more suited to powder. They hooked me up in very good fashion.  The Stashes were tons of fun. They floated very well in powder, they were stable at speed and I could carve turns or smear them very easily as needed. They were absolutely perfect for the day’s conditions.

The vacation amounted to a long, extended play date with friends. Interestingly the idea of playing can be a powerful thing.  This article from Tim Ferris is titled How to Cure Anxiety – One Workaholic’s Story. Six Techniques that Work. The first point is Enjoy Guilt-Free Play with Friends. Though I don’t seem to suffer from anything like anxiety, this experience of vigorous outdoor play with people I like was deeply, thoroughly enjoyable on almost a spiritual level. (I’m not one to use word like “spiritual” very often. Whatever. This was a GREAT time!) A similar sentiment–to play–is echoed by this article from Kate Galliet at Prokine Performance.

This gig was so much fun I came home and started researching skis. The Sidestashes were great but after reading a good bit, I decided on the Blizzard Cochise 193cm. Should be getting those tomorrow!! Might try them out Saturday.


Ski Conditioning


The ski season is very (VERY!  VERY!) close at hand and appropriate preparation is in order, so here’s a plan I put together.  Several capacities are key to good skiing performance: endurance, flexibility/mobility, strength/power, and power-endurance.

The periodized plan is composed of three four-week training blocks with each block separated by one week off.  The first two training blocks consist of three gym workouts per week.  The final block has two gym workouts per week.  The week off should allow for thorough rest and recuperation prior to beginning the next block.

Emphasis is placed on training a certain capacity in each block, but the other capacities are trained as well so that nothing is lost as the plan progresses.  For instance, though strength is emphasized in the first block, endurance and balance training also takes place.  The skiing performance capacities I’ve addressed and my thoughts on each are as follows:
1.    Endurance (already established over the summer through running and biking): I must have the endurance to stay on the mountain all day at altitude.  The endurance base will be maintained over the course of the plan.
2.    Strength: Skiing is very thigh-dominant thus I must have very strong legs to ski well.  A strong trunk and upper body is essential for powerful turns.
3.    Mobility/Stability (two sides of the same coin): Effective ski technique requires tremendous hip and leg mobility during turns, especially at high speeds.  While the legs and hips must be mobile, the trunk typically must be rock-solid and stable during turns.
4.    Power: Strength must be transfered to power.  It’s not enough to be strong and slow to ski well.  I must be able to express strength at high speeds.
5.    Power-endurance (Here’s where the training gets very specific to skiing.): Skiing requires one to be powerful over and over again for several minutes.  Then the skier typically gets a rest of several minutes while he or she rides back up to the top of the mountain.  So it’s not enough to be powerful once and then rest.

Here’s the plan:

  • Block 1: Strength & Mobility
    • Strength Day
      • front squat: 3-6 reps, 4-8 sets
      • bench press: 3-6 reps, 4-8 sets
      • face pull: 8-12 reps, 3-4 sets
    • Balance Day
      • single-leg squats from a box
        • heel reach forward
        • toe reach back
        • toe reach forward
        • rotational squat
      • single-leg bent over dumbbell row
      • single-arm overhead dumbbell press with frontal plane hip drive
    • Mobility Day
      • multi-directional lunges with varied arm drives
      • dips
      • rotating cable pulls from various angles
    • Endurance: running and biking throughout the week
    • One week off
  • Block 2: Power
    • Day 1
      • multi-planar jumps/hops: 6-10 reps, 3-4 sets
      • barbell clean to front squat: 3-5 reps, 4-6 sets
    • Day  2
      • Kettlebell swings: 8 reps, 3 sets
      • Kettlebell swipes or chops: 5-8 reps, 3 sets
    • Day 3
      • long jumps: 6 reps, 3 sets
      • dumbbell or barbell push press: 3-5 reps, 4-6 sets
    • Endurance: same as block one
    • One week off
  • Block 3: Power endurance
    Due to the high stress of these workouts, only two are performed per week.

    • Day 1:
      • barbell complex
      • clean
      • front squat
      • bent row
      • Romanian deadlift
      • floor press
      • followed by multi-planar jumps/hops
    • Day 2:
      • Kettlebell complex (may vary widely)
        • snatch
        • clean
        • chop
        • press
        • swing
      • running or rowing intervals