My last couple of years of lazy-ass so-called training and no racing have caught up with me, and I realize to my discomfit that I am a shuffler rather than a strider.
I watch the amazing women on the World Cup scene and am blown away by their athleticism and power, but I tell myself, well, they're professionals, and decades younger than I am, and started skiing when they were four, and they have coaches, and and ... of course I can't ski like that. But then I go to MWC and see women in their 50s, 60s, and yes, 70s, skiing in a similar way, bounding up the hills with so much energy and flair, dancing up to the podium to get their medals, and I watch my weak little excuses wither and float away. Sure, some of these inspirational women are former Olympians or national team athletes, but now they're older, with families and jobs and busy lives and creaky knees, and yet they train hard and race hard and are evidently having a ball doing it. So I decide that, sure, I came to skiing later in life and I'm seriously lazy and my job is consuming and unpredictable, but those don't seem like valid enough excuses not to at least try, and see where I can get.
Justin Freeman says:
"This, then, is why we set goals, and not just any goals, but goals that might seem unachievable. It is partly for the brief euphoria of getting to the date circled on the calendar and achieving the time or the placement we have written down in the training log, the locker, the diary. But mostly it is because being fit and fast, and becoming fitter and faster, is a great reward unto itself, and the goals we set for ourselves are what make our training sessions into optimistic, joyful times."So I took a good look at my underlying weaknesses: not enough muscular strength (oh, hello, free gym in my office building!) and a lack of, how shall I say, dynamicness. Dynamicity. The quality of being quick and strong, light, explosive, powerful. This is why I shuffle on the flats and walk on the uphills, skills that will put me in last place in pretty much any race, a place I don't like to be. I partly blame the roller skiing I did last summer and fall, which was plenty of steepish uphills, good for building cardiovascular conditioning but too steep (for me) for building dynamicity. (Oh, hello, bounding! We are going to be friends this year, you and I.)
It's time to go back to basics, rebuild the engine, relearn the skills. I bailed out of the last two races I was planning this year and turned my focus to beginning to work on next year, putting some thought into the best way to start attacking my weaknesses. So many weaknesses! Then I took my skis to Cabin Creek today for some glorious spring skiing, but I stayed away from the hills. Yes, I need to get stronger on the hills, but I'm not there now and continuing to walk up hills will only reinforce bad habits. Instead I skied the road and forced myself to ski dynamically, not reverting to my old familiar shuffle. The road has just enough gently undulating ups and downs that I had to work a little bit, but not so much that I couldn't maintain good technique. You know what I mean: hips forward, ankles flexing, knees driving, powerful core, bigger more open strides. I took big long strides without poles on the downhill sections and worked on maintaining that openness on the flats and ups. In my mind, I replayed World Cup videos: Kalla, Nilsson, Parmakoski. Of course I ski nowhere near those goddesses, but having those visuals in my head moves me in the direction I want to go. And when I felt my technique starting to unravel, I stopped, rather than continuing to imprint bad habits in my muscle memory. There is a time and a place for just skiing, no matter how badly, but there is also a time and a place for focus and commitment and seeing where you can go.
"This is one of the great gifts that sport can give us: a glimpse into possibility, a reminder to reach. Whether or not (and how) we apply it in our daily lives is up to us." ~Heidi Swift