Despite winter’s unrelenting grip on Colorado this year, it IS the end of Nordic skiing season—and many of us are eager to transition right into our summer passions. Lots of Nordic skiers bike and run in the off season, and they don’t do it halfway. That’s why forcing yourself to take a training break is so important, so the body and mind can get off the go, go, go treadmill and come back even stronger.
During the season it’s tempting to maximize our time on skis and prioritize trips to the mountains and maximum trail time. But if you knocked fitness down the list this month, what could you say yes to instead?
1. Yes to relationships. Let’s face it, if your significant others don’t ski (or ski as often), you’ve spent a lot of your free time without them this winter. Have you felt anxiety, depression or tension when you couldn’t get in a workout? That’s a red flag. When athletes are overcommitted, they can alienate friends, says Katherine Schreiber, an exercise addiction specialist. Friends who can’t participate at the same level or feel their own routines don’t measure up tend to peel off, and intimate partners can feel abandoned and resentful. So make it a point this month to schedule a lunch, renew date night, take the kids to a movie of their choosing, or grab an after-work bite with coworkers.
2. Yes to healing. Now’s the time to get nagging injuries and discomforts under control. According to The Center for Orthopedic and Neurosurgical Care and Research, Nordic skiers are prone to shin splints, Achilles tendon injuries and back pain. If your body is in pain, seek out a quick check up and follow through on prescribed PT. And if your practitioner prescribes rest, by all means, do it! A short-term layup beats a long-term sidelining injury.
3. Yes to other ways to be outdoors. Many of us ski in part because we love the silence of the snowy trails and the peace of being outdoors. No need to give it up—consider forest bathing, the Japanese art of simply immersing in the presence of trees, which has been proven to reduce stress. Or grab a plot in your local community garden, plant a one-pot herb garden, head to open space areas with your dog or plan a hike somewhere new. All will give you the same stress-reducing hit of well-being.
4. Yes to... not racing. Racing and recovery do not go together, period. We know it’s running (and biking, and tri) season in Colorado and the urge to transfer to the next sport is strong, but if you trained hard this season, give yourself a break. Performing intense speed workouts or racing too early can limit your seasonal gains.
5. Yes to enjoying food for pleasure. A lot of serious skiers are serious about their fuel, too, which makes sense. But weighing and calculating can take the joy out of eating—and if done too obsessively can even lead to a sense paralysis over choosing “right” and “clean” foods at all times. So commit this month to sample five new recipes (and heck, make two of those desserts). Always wanted to try Moroccan chicken? Never nailed strawberry rhubarb pie? Make it a learning experience that’s full of the pleasure of the process and the pleasure of eating it. Or sign up for a meal subscription service to check out new recipes—for flexible yet health-minded eating, we like Sun Basket.