Training Tips

Ski Instead of Running

What’s one of the hardest things about training for a spring or early summer marathon? Is it dealing with the cold weather? Is it dealing with snow and ice on the running path? Nope. It is trying to figure out how you will work your training into your very important days spent up skiing or snowboarding. 

It is truly great living in Colorado during the winter and being able to spend your time enjoying the beauty the state has to offer. Whether it is snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing or snowboarding, these activities can be enjoyed while working on your training plan for the Colfax Marathon, Half Marathon, 10 miler or relay.  

The simplest way to work these activities into to your training schedule is to use them as your cross training. Instead of spending time in the pool or on the elliptical, spend it outside enjoying the fresh snow. Remember if you are using it as a cross training day, keep your heart rate on the lower end of your target range. This is meant to be a fun day getting some activity in without worrying about your heart rate. 

Now if you are going to use a ski day to replace one of your training runs, you need to adjust your ski day based off of the run you are trying to replace. To start, I would recommend you don’t exchange your long run for a ski day.  Otherwise, have fun exchanging some of your runs for some great times on the mountain.  

If you have a nice relaxing 4 miler to do today, head up to the mountain for a nice day spent on some groomers at your favorite resort. Aim to get at least the same amount of time you spend running those 4 miles as you would actively skiing. You don’t get to count the fun times spent in line or sightseeing on the ski lift. I recommend trying to keep your heart rate in the same zone you would try for while running your training run. 

If you have a tempo day on your schedule and your friends insist you join them for a ski day, try a more difficult day. I would recommend working on enjoying some bumps and really getting your heart rate in that orange zone. Make sure to do a few easier runs between to allow for some recovery. Be safe, but try hard to work up a sweat. 

Please remember these are only guidelines. Adjust these recommendations to your ski level. If you can’t ski moguls, not a problem, just try for a more difficult run or working on tighter turns. Maybe try doing longer runs so you can really work on that endurance. 

It is also important to remember to rest. If you are set to have a rest day, rest. Take the time off. It is important to let your body rest. If you are invited to go out skiing on your rest day, hold down a table for your friends while you enjoy a hot chocolate or a hot toddy and the blue-bird day instead of over working your muscles. 

These are a few tips to help you enjoy the best of a Colorado winter without having to stress about throwing off your training plan. 

Dr. Jennell Kopp
– Medical Director of Athletics and Head Team Physician, University of Denver
– Sports Medicine Physician at Common Spirit
– Colfax Marathon Medical Director