Steph is back from St Anton, Austria and a week long ski trip, but did she stick to her training plan while out there? Let’s find out…
“I’ve done 3 ski trips on 3 training cycles now… my first marathon, Barcelona PB and now training for Boston and Leeds Triathlon. So here are my top tips for marathon training whilst on a ski trip. Whether you are training for a triathlon, your first parkrun, a marathon or just keeping fit there’s lots of options to train whilst on holiday.”
If you are googling this (rather than just a fan, hi Mum!) then in the back of your mind you may be a little concerned. I was, even though I’ve done it before. I was nervous I would forget how to swim, or lose all my fitness in one week of skiing. Writing it down, it sounds irrational, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has these thoughts.
The key here is to be realistic before you go. You are going on HOLIDAY! Hurrah! and a sporty holiday at that. Focus on what you are going for and know it won’t cause you any detriment if all you do is ski. Unless you break a leg, but then you have bigger issues. I reminded myself I was there to have a fantastic time with friends, learn to ski better, eat all the cheese and fit in a bit of training if I could.
- Bookend your trip.
When I went to Meribel in 2015, I’d done my first ultra 7 days before I flew out, a week of rest and no running was necessary. If skiing is your priority then book your races accordingly.
When I went back to Meribel in 2016 I did a half marathon the week before the trip and one on the Sunday I got back, only 6 days off in reality and with races either side, it did me the world of good.
This year we travelled Sunday-Sunday. I squeezed in a double day on the Saturday before I went and did my long SLOW run when I got home on the Sunday afternoon. I gave myself no pressure to squeeze anything in on the Sunday, but the bag was unpacked, the washing was on and the day was bright and clear.
- Prepare, Pack and Plan
Google the resort ahead of time, is there a gym or a pool?
Could you book an apartment or hotel with facilities?
Are there cleared walkers routes? Most resort websites have a section for those not skiing, I found these routes for St Anton.
Pack your stuff and if you know what’s available pack accordingly. If there are no facilities, a pair of YakTrax and some running kit that can double as base layers gives you options. Whether you decide to ski all day or sneak in a run.
Leave your skis in town. I always book overnight storage for my skis and boots when I hire them. This means I don’t have to lug them back and forth from the chalet and if I want to use a gym or pool in town, I’m more likely to go if I haven’t got to do the trip back and forth to the chalet beforehand.
- Cross Training
Walk – I bought some cheap snow boots in 2015 from T K Maxx and they are still going strong. I like to use the time before my lessons in the morning to walk into town to collect my skis. Rather than squeezing onto a packed bus, I get my heart rate up, get some fresh air and often some peace and quiet from a busy chalet. By the time you’ve been back and forth (it always seems to be up hill) you can work up a sweat.
Ski – the most important, skiing is a cardiovascular exercise, and at altitude (read all about those pros doing altitude training?) counts as fantastic cross training for any cardiovascular based sport. I’m not a scientist, or a doctor, this is just my opinion, but try it for yourself and see! I guess it’s a bit like being on a cross-trainer machine. But add in sidestepping up to your mates, hulking skis around, swerving round small children, it all adds up.
Dance – it’s 3pm, you are in a piste side restaurant, do you a) grab a coffee and go b) have a light beer (or radler) and dance on the tables? Dancing is exercise! And in ski boots it’s basically training with weights… Extra points for every random you get to join in.
- Other Cross Training
Gym – If you are lucky enough to have a gym in your chalet or hotel, then perhaps pre-plan some workouts you can squeeze in if you are up early or the weather is bad.
Room workouts – YouTube is your friend, if you have the room, try some bodyweight exercises.
Swimming – training for a triathlon while skiing is arguably easier, there are 3 sports to choose from and therefore 3 opportunities to squeeze some training in. In St Anton there was a beautiful heated outdoor 25m pool. On Tuesday I shoved my swim stuff in my boyfriends rucksack and as they hit the apres bar, I snuck off for a 40 min swim. I didn’t miss much and the first Jager went straight to my head after swimming anyway. I went again on Friday and had another lovely swim, it was the perfect relaxation after a 6 hour ski day.
For your skiing and for your tired marathon training legs. Stretching is super important, shockingly I only squeezed in 2 x 20 minute sessions whilst I was in St Anton. All you need is some floor space and your phone. I even used my headphones one day when my boyfriend had a post ski nap.
Here are some I like:
If twenty minutes is too much for you, there is always ‘legs up a wall.’ Lie on your back and get your bum as close as you can to a wall, swivel your legs around and up the wall. Close your eyes and relax. You can even do this after my next suggestion.
- Carb Loading
The most important bit of keeping your training going whilst on ski holiday, beer is carbs. You are in the glorious mountains, the beer is not too heavy, you are on holiday. Enjoy the company, enjoy the ambience and come back rejuvenated and refreshed for your next training cycle. Except one very sleepy day after travelling.