Sweater weather is here, #pumpkinspicelattes are taking over Instagram and Halloween Candy is showing up at Metro. You’ve likely left the cottage and are now #blessed with the privilege of returning to the grind. Summer, while not officially over, is sadly coming to an end. The best way to beat the post-summer blues? Start planning for the winter (and don’t forget to enjoy the fall colours, of course)! Here are a few ways you can get ready for racing.
While walking around a little box flinging kettlebells, slinging barbells, jumping on boxes and getting yelled at by your coach may not sound fun, it is probably the most important thing you can do right now to ensure that:
You can shred like Ted (strong buns = great runs):
You are less likely to end up stuck in the gym like Lindsey for a whole season doing rehab:
You will look and feel awesome (for evidence, follow the Instagrams of the goddess-like ladies on the Canadian team):
This doesn’t mean that you have to be crushing weights at the most expensive gyms. Bonus if you can attend a crossfit gym with a trainer, but charity clubs like the YMCA often have satisfactory lifting equipment and fitness classes that are better than nothing. These clubs usually have swimming pools and sports courts to help keep things interesting. Also, don’t forget to check out your school’s gym/weight room (if they have one) for a free workout!
All of this work at the gym will be a bit of a bust if you aren’t eating the proper foods to fuel your body. Yes, you will be stronger if you work out regardless of what you eat but your gains will be WAY less noticeable and less frequent if you live on bagels, burgers and burritos. Stick to unprocessed foods to prevent inflammation, keep the fat away and help recover after a workout (hello muscles!). Unprocessed meats, potatoes, fruits, full-fat yogurt, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains like rice and quinoa will make you feel full and prevent mentally and physically destructive sugar binges. Don’t be afraid of natural fat! Butter, coconut oil and avocados are great for you and will help you feel full.
Warning – after becoming used to eating clean you may not want to ever eat unhealthy again! You don’t have to go full Paleo, but their recipes are great nonetheless. A pizza or poutine once in a while won’t necessarily kill you but it shouldn’t be your only source of energy. Treat these foods like treats and you will notice the difference in your energy levels and appearance. You are what you eat!
Get your stuff together.
How does your equipment look? Did you ski the bejeezus out of your slaloms last year? Chances are that you did if you are U16 or older. It is time to grab a new set of blades if you skied more than 50 days last season (more than the 9-week program). If you are U14 and below, your skis and boots may have a bit of life left in them. If you grew or are still growing, don’t be afraid to get some used gear from a friend, a ski swap or a ski shop. When you are younger than U16, your equipment should fit properly but it doesn’t need to be world cup quality in order for you to ski fast. The most important things at this age are your technique, tactics and fitness level! If you are unsure of whether or not your equipment is still good, don’t be afraid to ask your coach! Things like coats, poles, pants, shin guards, race suits, gloves and goggles only need to be replaced once they are damaged or too small. Your helmet should be inspected for cracks and scratches, especially if you crashed last season.
If you need new skis, it is always good to keep an old pair handy in case you break or lose a pair during the season. They also make good lenders to friends and family that come to visit. If you really don’t want them, donate them to your friends, local ski swap, or ski shop! If you do decide to use skis from last season, it is always a good idea to bring them to a shop regardless to get a base/edge grind and binding check. A scratched up base can be made to look brand new by the machines they use.
Check your tuning tool box. Are your files full of gunk? If so, clean them with a wire brush. Clean and polish the base of your iron. Make sure that you have hydrocarbon (inexpensive) wax for training each day to prevent base burn. Flourocarbon waxes should be used sparingly at U16 and above as they are expensive, toxic and offer little advantage at amateur age levels.
Expand your mind.
Skiing, like anything else, is a mental sport. The best way to prepare your mind for the season is to read up on what the best skiiers in the world are doing. A great place to start is skiracing.com. Many world cup racers have blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, blogs, and Instagram accounts that will keep you in the know. Follow your provincial/regional team members. They are the closest elite athletes to you and their experiences are the most realistic. Many of them have been through the long drives to the hill each weekend, the cold and the icy cold days on snow. Reaching out to them is the best thing you can do to stay sane.
Register for your Program
You may not be thinking of skiing at the moment, because school is busy and there is no snow on the ground yet. However, it is super-duper important that you get in touch with your club and register for the upcoming season. Doing this early ensures that your club can find you the best coaches. If you and everyone else waits until the last minute, your team may not have enough coaches and you may miss out on valuable feedback.
Do your homework—well
We all know that ski racing is hard on your schooling. What’s the best way to make sure your season doesn’t wreck your GPA? Talk to your teachers—now. Explain to them what you are going to be doing so that they can prepare for your absence. Once you check your calendar to see when your races are, print/email a copy to your teacher. Let them know that you will do whatever it takes to stay caught up, and that although you love to ski, that school is a huge priority for you. Show them you mean business by putting in your best work now, and they may be more likely to let you off the hook come winter, when you will hardly be there. Remember, your teacher does not owe you good grades, especially if you don’t show up. They also have to do extra work to make sure you get the material you need organized ahead of time. Be a team player, and you will go far.