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On New Year’s Eve I was sat in one of my favourite restaurants in Meribel Village enjoying what should have been a wonderful day out on the mountain. My first full day out since hurting my knee on day one (more on this later). I should be excited but in my head all I could hear was “this is rubbish”, “why can’t I ski”, “this is so frustrating”, “I know I am better than this”, “I’m really scared of losing control”, “I’m super scared of someone else losing control and taking me out”, “my brakes aren’t working”, “I can’t control my ski’s”, “I can’t find an edge to grip with”, “I can’t keep up with Ben”, “I’m not doing this right”, “this is ridiculous I know I can ski better than this”…. On it went, taking all enjoyment out of the fresh air and stunning mountain views!
It was the beginning of the season, I hadn’t found my ‘ski legs’, the conditions were super icy, the pistes super busy, my ski boots didn’t fit and I hadn’t serviced my ski’s. Why was I so het up about my performance anyway? Isn’t skiing about the experience of sliding and being in the mountains? How was I letting my head get in the way?
I suddenly had an “ah ha” moment when my wonderful Ski Instructor boyfriend reminded me that skiing isn’t just all to do with me and how I am feeling, the environment plays a massive part too. That day the conditions were 95% of the problem. It was like an ice skating rink on the slopes. I realised if I fall into this mind trap of negativity and anxiety about skiing, I can’t be the only one!
So, here are my top tips to ensure you get the most out of your ski holiday….
1: Stop Saying “Should”
The desire to pick up where you left off the last time you were on ski’s, the frustration of your performance when you can’t physically do what your brain thinks you ‘should’ be able to do. I use the word should in brackets as this is a word I am trying to reduce from my vocabulary. I feel the emotion behind ‘should’ is usually negative and built out of frustration and non-acceptance of what is.
However this isn’t a blog about ‘should’, this is about skiing! That said, if you do notice yourself using it whilst skiing I suggest you tune into the underlying tone and why you are not happy with what you are doing right now. Why do you think you ‘should’ be doing something else other than what you are doing?!! STOP! You are exactly where you are meant to be. Notice the power when you change your self speak from “I should be better at this / should be doing that black run / should do another run even though my legs are pooped” etc, to, “I want to be better at this, I want to do a black run, I want to rest now as I’ve done enough today!”
2: You are on Holiday!
Back to managing expectations. What is it that you want from your Ski holiday? A Skiing holiday isn’t just about skiing, its about experiencing the mountains. The views, the fresh rejuvenating air and taking time out. Remembering that you are on a holiday and by definition, holidays are about leisure time and recreation which also involves taking some time for a bit of self-care. You could shred from first lift to last, race around the mountain, chase your tail, try to keep up with everybody, party hard in the evening and repeat all week and go home exhausted. You could spend the week pushing to keep up, freezing when you find ice or low visibility steep slopes, getting really scared in fear of falling whilst vowing never to do this again. However, if this doesn’t sound like your idea of self-care and a great holiday then keep reading!!!!
3: What Does Your Body and Mind Need?
Your ski holiday is about you! Think about what your expectations are from yourself and your holiday. Take a few moments before you go to tune into what you need from your holiday. Plan your week to include a bit of balance. This exercise won’t take long but will help massively in setting realistic expectations of yourself. Plan your week to include some down time. Whether it’s a massage, a visit to the spa, reading your book in peace or having a coffee amongst the beautiful mountains. Do it! Be kind to yourself.
4: Remember the Altitude Will Affect You
Another factor to consider is the altitude. Your body needs time to acclimatise so don’t go too hard on day one. Schedule in regular breaks and remember that most injuries happen on day three when your body is tired. Your body takes longer to recover after exercise when at altitude so schedule a half day and take a bit of self-care time.
5: Love a Lesson
Another requirement for your holiday is to remember to be patient! Give your brain a little time to remember the counterintuitive ski position and perhaps take lessons to remind yourself how to ski with good technique. Lessons are such a great investment and will help you enjoy your holiday even more, knowing you are doing something proactive to improve your ability and technique.
At the beginning of this season I made an error in judgement when I should have known better. It made me realise what so many people do when they get on the slopes for their annual ski trip. Picture this, first run of the season, launching myself down my favourite off piste slopes in waist deep powder seemed like my idea of heaven. Er no. Sadly, I had not taken into account that whilst I could do this with my eyes closed 8 months ago, I hadn’t been in my boots on skis for 8 months! It turns out that even though I am a good skier, not being prepared meant I made a bad decision and twisted my knee. As I lay in the powder I wondered where my common sense had gone! What on earth was going through my mind at the top of the run? How had I let the powder turn me into an impatient adrenalin seeker? What I should have done was a few runs on the piste to find my balance, remind my body how to move on my skis and get my timing of movement accurate and right before the added challenge of the powder! If I did this when I really do know better, this is more than likely something everyone experiences on their holiday.
So, remember if it’s been a while since you last had skis on and go easy on yourself and give yourself time to remember how to ski again and avoid doing what I did on day one! It’s easy to get over excited and attempt something that was beyond your skill level at that moment in time.
6: Be Informed
If you are someone who hates icy conditions or poor visibility then pay attention to the weather reports and plan for it. The weather can change quickly in the mountains but there are great websites for checking the forecast before you head out.
Most resorts now have apps that you can download onto your phone with info on pistes that are open and groomed, lifts that are open, weather reports and maps.
7: Fuel Your Body
Exercise requires fuel so please do remember to pack healthy snacks and water to keep you hydrated and avoid and blood sugar crashes. It will help you maintain energy levels during your day.
8: Quality not Quantity
Getting the most from you ski pass and your holiday doesn’t just mean skiing the most runs for the longest time. It should be more about the quality and enjoyment of your time in the mountains. If you are exhausted going in to your holiday your body may need a little more TLC and may not be up to what you had planned. Fatigue on ski’s means more risk of injury so above all, listen to your body and never underestimate the effects of fatigue.