Many of my friends moan and groan when I invite them out for a run. “Running is hard,” they say, “it hurts” they whine, “running just sucks”… They’re not wrong. I too was once a vehement opponent of running. The fact of the matter is that running does hurt and it is uncomfortable, but you should definitely try it. Call me the worst salesman ever, but let me explain.
Like most readers of SnowBrains, I’m here because I love skiing, I love the mountains, and I love the sense of adventure, challenge, and community that comes in tandem with snowsports. When ski season rolls around, I feel compelled to spend every free moment out in the snow with two planks strapped under my feet. I seek to maximize my winters by skiing as many laps as I can, and I don’t want anything to stop me. This includes my physical limitations, which brings me back around to my original topic- running.
When winter comes, I want to be as prepared for the ski season as I possibly can. And personally, I feel that the most effective way to prepare myself is to throw on a pair of sneakers and go hit the trails.
It certainly doesn’t take a genius to realize the obvious health benefits of running. Running is an awesome way to improve your cardiovascular endurance. This, in turn, translates to more time skiing and less time stopping halfway down a run or in the middle of a skin track to catch your breath. Improved cardiovascular endurance can also contribute to a more seamless acclimation to higher altitudes.
Furthermore, running is an excellent form of exercise to promote increased muscular endurance. At one point or another, we’ve all felt that horrid burning sensation in our legs at the end of a long day of skiing or riding. Running strengthens many of the same muscles that we use on the slopes. I typically find that after a good off-season of running, my legs feel plenty strong to tackle the winter season that lies ahead.
If you are able to get out on some trails, I highly recommend it. Trail running is where things really start to get fun. Trails often offer varied terrain which keeps the run engaging and enjoyable. Winding singletracks, technical ridgelines, and steep hills all provide their own unique challenges. Additionally, getting out in nature is one reason I love skiing so much in the first place. When out running trails, you’re bound to see some cool wildlife, beautiful wildflowers, and you might just end up exploring somewhere completely new. Not everyone has access to trails, but there’s nothing wrong with going out and crushin’ some road. Running roads is way better than not running at all!
For those who are feeling psyched to lace up their shoes and start running, let me leave you with just a little advice. Running will forever and always be uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter if you are running your first 5K or are a seasoned ultra-runner. You’re going to sweat, your legs will ache, and lungs will burn. Running hurts and that’s the truth. The determining factor in your success is the ability to embrace discomfort and have the mental fortitude to push on.
For me, running started as a means to an end- which was skiing. Now running has become so much more than that. It’s not just a form of cross-training, it’s my own personal therapy, it’s my way to explore the world around me, and it supports my ice cream addiction…err, or should I say enthusiasm. I’ve never once regretted going for a run and I would encourage anyone with the slightest inclination to go out and give it a shot.
They say the hardest part of a run is getting up from the couch and out the door, so go lace up and get after it! I promise your body will thank you for it come ski season.