|(Photo Above: James McSkimming, skiing the beautiful shoulder of Mt Matier's North Face)|
Racing on the Ski Mountaineering Team was amazing, and I may think about doing it again. I trained hard, focusing all day on training, recovery, nutrition, hydration, each aspect every minute of every day. I focused on it, telling myself it would pay off to get back into the mountains, and complete the goals I had in mind. It did. But what I didn't think of is the fact that it may take away from that as well, especially if I went to intensely. My ego told me I could race and perform to maximum power in the mountains, I felt really strong, but with the mountains you are sometimes just waiting to get a real full dose of the truth. I simply couldn't recover from it, hitting rock bottom, for an athlete.
|(Photo Above: Slovenian Competitor living inside the 'Pain Cave'. 2011 Vertical Race, WC Italy)|
What may hurt people to think, which I find has helped, is to tell yourself the truth (it hurts). You are not special, you are not insanely strong or fast, you have merely put in a bit of time to make yourself slightly better, but realize this; overall, you are slow, you can always train and recover better, you can always do more, you are not dedicated enough, you are frail, and one day you will die.
|(Photo Above: Justin after a long day of being on the move, Whistler, BC.)|
Living inside the pain cave becomes a warm comfortable recess of the mountains in time. Inside it our human frailty and softness are equally apparent and also easily left behind, the choice is ours in which way we choose to lead it. We can accept the fact that our pain overwhelms our senses, but understand it is merely a reaction to growth, as we grow stronger with each step and movement forward. Only when we've been inside the cave long enough, stripped away our ego, our thoughts of what or who we are, and spent the energy that is required to think of these distractions, that we can discover our true self and realize what needs to be done in order to continue on our path in the mountains.
"The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look." - Julius Caesar, 75 BC.
|(Photo Above: New lines to test out, requiring the mind to lead not the body.)|
SkiMo Racing And Ski Mountaineering Training Tips
1. Identify Weaknesses
What is your weakness? Do you get scared on mixed rock and ice terrain? Are you slow on boot packs? Do you bonk after long periods skinning? Whatever it is, identify your weakness, and seek out that weakness. If you are afraid on mixed terrain, go find objectives with more mixed terrain, study gear and climbing techniques more. Bonk on long skintracks? Learn about nutrition, timing, and record your results in a training journal (what helped, what didn't, how you felt at the end of the day hours later.)
2. Change the way you are training
The only way to continue to grow is to not stagnate. Never do the same thing over and over again, change your long distance routes, interval inclines and technical courses, bootpack with different amounts of weight on your back, drag a tire, just do everything in your power to ensure your body does not get used to your training.
3. Learn from your mistakes.
8 Hours a day minimum. Add 1 to 2 hours of sleep for added stress at work, life, or harder than usual effort.
High quality proteins lean organic meat, chicken breast, eggs, cooked without fats or heavy sauces. Good fats such as avocado's, fish oil, extra virgin olive oil (not heated), and lots of vegetables.
Yeah, so I'm saying yoga. For a long time I've liked a bit of yoga, but have been reluctant to engage in it as many people refer to it as a true form of fitness, and the best way to be extremely strong. I disagree, but as this is not a rant post about yoga, here's why I like it now. Finding the right stretching classes have helped align my body better, keeping my body a bit better balanced, improving my recovery, and loosening up tight muscles that aren't so easy to stretch. Supporting muscles used in climbing, and skiing, sit in better positions afterwards and I become far less likely to get an overuse injury.
4. Mixing It Up
Possible the most important thing out there. Skiing has been one of my most important focuses in life, but taking a step back, taking a break, and enjoying other activities have only helped it and my enjoyment of it. Go biking, climb, just do something that is fun, requires your athletic skill and energy, without your only goal being skiing.