Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First day of Skiing 2011 Season (30 November)

This has to be the best snow condition I've ever seen so early in the year. The photo was taken as darkness was falling and I was the only one on the mountain skiing back to Val d'Isère from Tignes, but despite the falling snow, wind and fading light the pistes were in excellent condition and a pleasure to ski.

No serious skiing today - just a gentle slide to get used to being on skis again and ease the body back into it. Actually the best thing about skiing at this period of the year is that you have the mountain to yourself - it feels very special. You don't have to watch over your shoulder ever for some out-of-control idiot charging straight down the hill and cutting you up. If only skiing could be like this all the time.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nordic Walking

Christiane took me for a 5.2km Nordic Walking workout with a good climb and descent involved. I've used Nordic Walking poles a lot in the past for running in the winter to help in dealing with the snow. When running they give you a lot of security and stability and being carbon they are very lightweight. 
Today I listened to Christiane about keeping the arms straight when pushing during the climb but was very sceptical about this. Amazingly, I got it! The sensation is totally different and the power is very clear, but the moment you bend your arms you lose the power. This new sensation was really unexpected. We had used the poles for hiking in the summer but neither of us had felt this. It just shows how easy it is to completely miss the point of something.
I stormed up the hill with no difficulty, but the descent was hard work! Descending uses the muscles  in a completely different way from cycling - eccentric contraction - so despite being very fit for cycling I was hopelessly unfit for this! It struck me that this would be a great way to train for downhill skiing - less traumatic than running but really working the muscles in the right way. The idea when descending on the slippery, damp, muddy track was to keep the legs half flexed - which is what kills them. This way however you don't end up on your backside. Had a good attack of the d.o.m.s. in the following days.