Now it's the first week of May. Ski season is months away, but this is the beginning of that critical period when we make the deposits in the fitness bank, build the muscles, generate the mitochondria, expand the heart and lungs. There is a ton of good information out there right now. There is Gerald Marzorati, whose essay in the NY Times talks about the value of learning a new hard thing in your golden years, so as to keep the mental and physical fires lit. He sort of gives me the okay to be not so good at skiing. Being good is not necessarily the point; the point is finding an activity you're passionate about and trying hard, and working at it, and thinking about it, and focusing on it, and improving. This is what he says:
I am talking about improving at a demanding skill or set of skills — a craft, a discipline. I have in mind something that will take years to get proficient at, something that there is a correct way of doing, handed down for generations or even ages, and for which there is no way for you to create shortcuts with your cleverness or charm. Playing the cello, maybe. Or cabinetry. Or, in my case, tennis, serious tennis. … I wanted to learn and get better at something that embodied life. … Which brings us to the beauty of a disciplined effort at improvement and, I think, the only guaranteed benefit of finding something, as I found in tennis, to learn and commit to: You seize time and you make it yours. You counter the narrative of diminishment and loss with one of progress and bettering.
Speaking of roller skiing, as we were since it's the first of May, here's Jen Santoro, former professional bike racer and now champion masters skier in the 40-44 age group. She raves about the benefits of classic roller skiing, and like Marzorati, gives me permission to love what I love. She says:
I was amazed at the technique improvement I had gained with my summer of careful roller skiing concentrating on technique, and all my strength training.
After a summer of real ski training of all types (strength, cycling, running, bounding, lots of rollersking with attention to good form head-to-toe), I had my best season yet.
The take-away here is that roller skiing is good, mindful roller skiing for form over speed is best, and Swenor roller skis are so close to snow that I even used them a few times this winter when snow was hard to find. I've never done that. Check out a pair as Rest Month rolls to a close and May 1 brings on the long days!