Fitness for health and sport or training for competition

"My general fitness is for me, because it's health and it makes me feel good." - "Then there's the elite-level fitness that I have to get to so I can compete well, I see that more as a job and it's not enjoyable." Bode Miller, Olympic Gold Medal skier. November 15, 2016. Max Berlinger.

Bode Miller, one of the greatest ski racers of all time understands the difference between fitness for health and training for elite sport. Do you understand the difference? Are you staying fit for basic health, to enjoy weekend sports and activities or to compete? Each of these 3 goals requires a different approach, level of risk and level of intensity. For most of us, training like a competitive athlete is not necessary and most importantly not worth the risk.

At the start of a recent 4 day ski trip out West, I was unsure of how my legs and body would respond to the long non-stop runs and altitude. I also did not ski for the entire 2015/2016 season due to a knee surgery and the lack of snow here in the Northeast. Thus, prior to my trip I put together a modest routine of leg exercises that included machines for strength, single leg, skier knee bends for quad endurance and bike intervals for cardiovascular fitness. I used the pool for core strength, balance and flexibility training.

This modest routine worked perfectly. I had no muscle soreness. A full day of skiing meant taking a mid-morning fluid break, a relaxing hour lunch and skiing until the lifts closed. It mean skiing very aggressively on some runs and cruising down other runs. A full day of skiing meant enjoying every aspect of skiing on a big mountain, from the varied terrain to the views.

Knowing your goals and what you want out of a health and fitness routine is very important to the success of the program. Further, if you are preparing for a week of free skiing or some other sport or competition, knowing your ability is critical to a successful preparation. As a long time skier, I enjoy long, fast and groomed runs, so I adjusted my preparation accordingly. My intervals and strength routines were timed and created to support this type of skiing.

In conclusion, never at any time while preparing for this trip did I do an exercise that had a high risk for injury. My goal was to prepare so that I could have fun and enjoy my time skiing.

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