I would argue that the most important part of being a professional skier is not how much you train, but how smart you rest. Let me elaborate on that.
If skiing fast were only about training the most hours, we could just compare training logs and not even bother racing. But it’s not that hard to log a ton of hours. I’ve had big training weeks where yeah, I’m tired, but I just keep plugging away and honestly it doesn’t take that much discipline to get out the door and slog out a few more hours. I don’t impress myself or anyone else those times when I simply go training for the sake of training. As my coach once told me: “if you’ve got a headache, you take 2 aspirin and it works. There’s no point in taking 10. In fact, that’ll hurt you.”
What IS hard is to be constantly checking in with your body and honestly evaluating where you’re at. I have to mention honestly because most skiers I know, including myself, seem to think we’re this invincible crew that cannot be tired out. Ever. Even when it’s pretty obvious that we’re starting to dig our own graves one 4 hour run at a time. Our bodies are incredible in what they can handle, but there’s always a balance.
That’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for doing something for the sake of fun, or changing it up, or having a “mental challenge day” once a summer where you test yourself. In fact, I give myself one day a summer where I get to set up a fun (type 2 fun, I suppose) type of training session where I do a distance challenge or a crazy set of intervals. Last week I roller skied 100km just to have done it, so that every other training session this summer and fall will seem easy in comparison.
The last few weeks have been some bigger training blocks for me, where I’ve had a lot of focused intensity sessions, some planned distance and ended with that 100km roller ski. Now I’m taking the lightest week of training I’ve had all summer to let it all soak in! I started off well by consuming suspicious amounts of maple lattes and sitting down at the computer all day. I ended the recovery week by going down to Boston to visit my boyfriend and having a lot of fun biking around to different beaches and exploring the tip of Cape Cod.
While the last two weeks were all about methodically loading stresses onto my body, this week was all about resting and letting my body rebuild itself. If all goes well, I’ll arrive in New Zealand for a 3 week block of on-snow training feeling fresh and stronger than I’ve been all summer! If I’m dumb, I’ll show up still tired. So I’m publicly declaring my intention to let my brain be smarter than my heart, which always want to do more, more, more.