If you’ve spent all winter on piste or backcountry touring, sending ice climbs, or snowshoeing through the woods, you might not be celebrating the spring thaw. With melt comes the end of ice fishing, hockey, and snowboarding. And while the chance to soak up some sunshine without a whole snowsuit in the way might sound delightful, you might also be wondering how to stay fit for next season.
There are plenty of ways winter athletes stay in shape so they can conquer the following season. Despite the lack of snow and ice, staying prepped can be a lot easier– and more fun– than you might think.
How Winter Sports Fans Can Stay Fit In the Offseason
Accept the Offseason
It’s great to stay in shape, but part of the beauty of offseason is having a chance to rest, recharge, and focus on self-care. Now is the time to tweak your nutritional plan. You might not have wanted to mess with your macro ratios in the crucial on-season, but now you can experiment more. Take another cue from sled dogs and acknowledge it’s ok if you gain see some physiological changes to your body during the summer. That’s energy to burn when you’re back on it.
This is also a great time to try new recovery methods. Maybe you’ve been curious about how a different style of massage might affect your tired muscles. Perhaps you’ve been wondering about acupuncture or cryotherapy. Now is the time to pick up a pack of Boost Oxygen and see how incorporating it into your workouts feels. The offseason is your opportunity to discover what practices you might want to bring into your onseason to up your game.
Think Whole Body
This is also the time to experiment with lower impact activities that will keep you lean and strong but might not be such a strain on your joints and will help your body recovery from a tough season. Take a yoga or dance class, for example, or try hiking instead of running. If you’re used to leg-intensive exercise, take the summer to give your upper body a workout with sports like kayaking or rafting. Swimming and water skiing are great whole-body workouts that will keep you feeling good from head to toe.
You might be surprised what you learn from using your body and mind in new ways. Hiking or trail running, for example, use different muscle groups for stability than other sports. Mountain biking combines cardio and downhill exhileration. Slacklining can help you hone coordination and balance. Activities like canyoneering can keep workouts interesting by exposing you to new landscapes and problems to solve.
Convert Your Sport To Dirt
If you haven’t gotten sick of your usual drills yet and want to keep on your regular routine, there are plenty of ways to convert your usual past times from snow to dirt. Take a cue from mushers and their sled dogs. It’s crucial for the dogs and their humans to stay in shape and used to working as a team. But it can be dangerous to run dogs in balmy spring and summer temperatures– their bodies are optimized for cold and they overheat easily. So runs are shorter, and typically use a dog cart or ATV instead of the usual snow sled.
The same idea extends to human training, too. Swap your snowboard for a skate or surfboard, your skis for trail running shoes, and your skates for a street hockey setup. Instead of ice climbing, head to the crag to try unaided climbs or something a little different like crack climbing. These kinds of conversions will keep your head in the game and your body moving, but are just different enough to keep things interesting and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
Play With Altitude
Not only can you experiment with your nutrition, workout, and recovery plans, summer is a great time to work at different altitudes and increase your endurance well ahead of winter. Pack up some Boost Oxygen and sign up for a summer ultrarun with big elevation changes, or a triathlon in high-altitude town. Pick a peak to summit or a goal like tackling the Grand Traverse. Or simply take a vacation in a destination where the air is thinner and enjoy yourself while hitting the gym regularly. Especially if you’re used to high-altitude sports like skiing or mountaineering, you don’t want to spend your whole summer at sea level only to have to acclimatize all over again at the start of next season when you’re really chomping at the bit.