*Ben S. checking in.
Skiing has taken me to 17 different countries and 4 different continents. Almost every year, I live out of a suitcase for close to 5 months. Travel is just an essential reality of our sport. Which is why, right now, it is really quite odd to find ourselves in a summer of stillness.
The country has, correctly, ground to a halt over the last few months. As we face the reality and magnitude of the pandemic, it has meant that most travel has stopped completely. I haven’t left Vermont since I got here, and even our usual summer training camps have disappeared. As a skier, this has been hard; we’re conditioned for a life on the road, and staying in one place for such a relatively long time has begun to seem strange. It feels, in one sense, like opportunities are passing us by as we hang out here in our homes. Over the last month, I’ve caught thoughts bouncing around in my head like “It should be time to pack a suitcase!” or “We should be getting our skis ready to head down to New Zealand!” But it’s not time to pack a suitcase, and my skis aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
It would be easy to think about this as a bad thing, but for me it’s been a wonderful reminder of the value of continuity in training. As I said, we’re used to being on the move, so it’s easy to forget the value of staying in one place. I flew to Vermont on May 5th and since then I’ve been sticking close to home. Initially I felt a little cooped up, and frankly I still do, but being in one place has provided a lot of benefit.
Staying here has allowed for an excess dose of one of the building blocks of fitness: repetition. I’ve repeated more of the same workouts, and done intervals in more of the same places than usual, and it’s given me a unique chance to measure my growth against my past performances. When you stay in one spot, you get more data points, and you can learn more about where you stand.
Staying here has also allowed (perhaps paradoxically) for a little bit more experimentation, which is essential to sanity. I’ve been exploring new places in the Stratton area for my easy workouts, I’ve been hopping on my road and mountain bikes far more than I ever used to. These are things I never would’ve done if I was bouncing back and forth between camps and vacations. Changing up the modes of training has allowed my body to stay fresher and healthier, while also bringing me to new places on the roads of southern Vermont.
So, while I miss travel, I’m thankful for the opportunities a little bit of stillness has provided. Not traveling has felt weird, and will continue to feel weird. But it strikes me that our sport is all about adapting to the changing trail in front of you, and while life of late hasn’t felt quite like business as usual, it has allowed me to learn more about myself and explore some new practices, which is what training is supposed to be all about.