SO the schedule I set myself was a bit on the WOW side. I have been able to ramp up into it to some extent, but the biggest lesson I've learned on my way to getting stronger is a big reminder that in order to gain strength and fitness, I have to allow my body to FULLY recover between workouts.
This is frustrating to me! But its a great lesson. My body is very different this time around than it was when I was younger, I recovered faster.
Obviously, the most important thing is for me to be on snow, mindfully practicing turning my feet in all different kinds of conditions. But, that being a given, I have to adjust what kind of terrain I'm on, how many hours I'm skiing, and how hard I'm going. Ive spent the last three weeks skiing really slow on groomed terrain because I'm working on changing a movement pattern. I chose to do two hard days, but they were only 31/2 or 4 hours each.
After that, we go into the rest of the training program...
So the first, most important thing is sleep. 8-10-12 hours a night. Your body can not recover if it isn't resting. I'm trying to be in bed by 9:30 and asleep by 10 every night.
The next thing that builds the foundation for fast recovery and strength gain and health is nutrition. When I'm completely devoid of sugar, I recover faster, sleep better, my energy is better.
I've managed to cut out alcohol completely, and reduced my sugar intake massively. I do let myself have a nibble of ice cream about once a week, but honestly, I'm losing my taste for it. Now I see it and I think, ooh, that would be good, and then I have a bite and I think, ugh, that's too sweet. I ate a kit kat during the CS2 exam in Vail because my energy was waning, and that did pop me up, but I felt that sharp slap after. Next time, I'm going for Justin's Peanut Butter instead.
I'm surprised at that change, not craving sugar and not really enjoying it when I have it, but I'm grateful for it. That took about six years... the thing that's harder to change is cutting out grains other than things like Quinoa.
I read the book Wheat Belly, and then started reading and listening to other research on how grains have changed in the last 50 years, how much we consume, and how quickly it turns to sugar. I'm thinking of bread as sugar now, so its easier to cut out. This certainly makes eating on the go more challenging, but I definitely feel better, more consistent energy when I'm away from the grains.
The next most important thing is Bikram Yoga. And yeah, I'm gonna say Bikram. Being in the hot room, letting all the water go through my body, rinsing me from the inside out, working those postures in that order, it heals me. I can go to Bikram every single day, sometimes twice a day, and it undoes all my other training (in a good way). I can adjust the workout to my place of benefit, so sometimes its really a vigorous workout, and sometimes my intention is to heal my legs from training so hard.
If I do other kinds of exercise every day, I get tired and overworked. Bikram is the medicine that heals all of that. If I don't go to class, its because I have a fever or I need to fit in a hard workout. But I am finding that those hard workouts can only happen once or twice a week.
I'm not skinning every other day like I was hoping to, I'm still recovering from other stuff. I have found that a good 20 minute walk or spin down on the bike helps my legs recover, so I'm starting with that. When we went down to the hot springs, I spent time walking around in the pool to try to work out the soreness.
The next most important thing is balance training, so I'm doing trampoline training once a week to improve my spatial awareness and over all athleticism. Its great for the core and hip flexors as well, but I am SO sore after it, its amazing. I don't feel when I'm there like I'm working out at all, but the next day, and for the next three days, I'm in recovery mode.
Skiing on one ski (dropping one at the top and getting after it) is the next most important thing, but it works me hard. Today, I am beginning to feel like I have legs back after skiing on one ski for four hours last Thursday. True, it was a powder day, and that made me work extra hard. But I learned a TON about my movement patterns, especially on my left leg. Then I paid for it for a couple of days.
I am loving Crossfit, and that has been the hardest thing to manage. I feel like a champion every single time I go. I feel like Rocky. I am stronger than I think I am, and the community, and the workout make me feel like a superstar. I get stronger, I get fit, I get sore. BUT.
When I'm that sore from training on snow, I can't go to Crossfit, because we do SO many leg intensive activities. Squats and box jumps are incredible for building strength from skiing, but I'm just not quite in a place where I can train as hard as I am on snow and gain benefit at Crossfit. I'm finding I can make it to Crossfit about once a week, because I won't go if I'm still recovering. And that is the piece that is taking more discipline than anything.
Because I want to be there. Working hard. But I've already injured and over trained my legs twice. Not because of Crossfit, but because of how hard I'm working, and then choosing to go to a workout that I know is going to overload my legs.
That makes me sad, because I want the strength gain, but my smarts tell me that I won't get strength gain if I'm so fatigued that I have to lift my legs up with my hands to get them in the car. (That's how my legs feel while they are recovering. After my one ski day, I was picking my legs up with my hands for three days.)
If I have a deep muscle pain, I can still go to Bikram, but I can't go to Crossfit. And I'm going to use my brain and be smart about this.
I'm eating my bananas, drinking my coconut juice, soaking in Epsom... I got a massage yesterday from Blades (HOLY WOW, hes really REALLY GOOD!) as my left side surgery muscles are aching and my neck is locking up... all that stuff from the surgery is tightening as I'm training, but it definitely feels much more healthy than it has, its getting strong.
I am finding that I can do one of Sharon's hot Vinyassa classes OR Crossfit, but not both in the same week. I'm doing tabatas at home that help fill in the gaps, situps, pushups and pullups, as well as forearm planks to build core and arm strength. That way, I can get the workout in the upper body and core if I can't go to Crossfit or Vinyassa. I'm definitely more worked after Crossfit than Vinyassa, so I pick according to how sore I am.
In this way, I'm gaining strength and balance slowly, pushing the edge and then seeing how long it takes to recover. I want to be sure that I enter tryouts with maximum strength, but also maximum energy. If my legs and body feel slow and heavy, that aint it. So this month is also about paying strong attention to how long recovery is, and what makes me feel like I've peaked.
Doing nothing on big recovery days does not help, there has to be a 20 minute walk or spin down, a soak, a massage, and maybe a Bikram class. And 12 hours of sleep on those days helps a lot.
The journey continues!