One of the things that I lament in the winter time is my lack of dedication with cross training. Indoor exercises with machines are fine, but when I don’t have a gym membership, and don’t really want to take the time to use the fitness room at work, I’m left with coming up with other options. I know that many runners use cross country skiing in the winter time to cross train so I decided to give it a try.
I signed up for a lesson in ‘classic’ skiing at the park where I often run, and spent 90 minutes learning the basics. One of the biggest issues I discovered right away was balance. Learning to keep my center of gravity forward was tricky, and took a lot of concentration. I also discovered that, because my feet tend to bow out a bit, keeping my legs straight in the tracks was difficult and I sometime felt like my foot wasn’t placed right where it should have been.
When I went into the experience I had assumed that my biggest issue would be the coordination of the poles with the skis. Perhaps it was all of my running experience, but that aspect didn’t turn out to be quite as challenging. Trying to not let the skis slide out from under me, and keep myself leaning forward was by far the bigger problem. I’m happy to say I only fell once, but there were plenty of times when my rhythm was thrown way off because I suddenly felt like I was falling backwards.
All of this was an interesting experiment. I’ll probably give it a go again sometime, but I think the next time I go out I want to just spend some time on my own practicing, and drilling the muscle memory. Much like changing up a running stance it takes a lot of practice and concentration to get it right. In a group lesson there was a lot of demonstration of different techniques, but now I just need some time to practice.
It was certainly a good workout. I forgot to start my watch, but I estimated that I got a good 2K of skiing in about 45 minutes. I know I was sweating a lot when I finished up. I can certainly see how this is a great tool for cross training, as it works muscles in a different way than straight running, and is low impact compared to running.
I love that in Minnesota we usually have snow with options for different types of activities that others in warmer climates might not get to try. I can do without the bitter cold, but being active in the snow can be a lot of fun.