Getting the most out of skiing when you’re over 40: six handy tips

If like the SRA directors, you’re over 40, you’ll know what it’s like nursing aching limbs after a full day of snowriding. Yeah, yeah, we hear you. You’re thinking nothing a bit of Ibuprofen or a tall glass of red cant fix, right? You’re partly right.

All those things help, and we’ve certainly used them ourselves – still do in fact. But there are plenty of other things you can do without turning to drugs:

1. Train hard before you go

You’re all busy we get it. But trust us, nothing prepares you better for skiing and snowboarding than training.  Leg strength and core strength are key. For leg strength, find yourself a good set of stairs and climb them.  Regularly.

Go slowly and (if you can) take double steps.  If your thighs (on the way up) and calves (on the way down) are burning, you’re probably doing it right.

If you live in Western Australia, ‘Jacobs Ladder’ is a great place to start – just go easy at first.  We train at Jacobs once or twice a week for 5-6 weeks in the lead up to skiing and it’s been really beneficial.  The coffee in Subiaco afterwards makes it all worthwhile. Disclaimer if you have existing knee or back problems check with your physio, chiropractor or doctor before launching into it.

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Jacob’s Ladder in Perth –  a real thigh burner

2. Drop a few kilograms

For those that ski in the northern hemisphere, snow holidays typically follow the Christmas period.  Let’s face it, after the festive season, we could all lose a few kilograms (well most of us). Losing weight makes a big difference.

Think of it this way.  If you were your legs, would you rather carry the version of you right now, or a better version at 5-10 kg lighter?  Your body will thank you for it. You’ll be less fatigued, your legs wont burn out by lunch time, and most importantly you’ll be that much lighter in the fresh pow. Winning all round.

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We hope the units on the scales in this image are not in kilograms!

3. Buy new equipment

This is not a sales push to get you to support our sponsors.  Well, it is kind of. But you don’t need convincing anyway, do you. Everybody loves new ski kit.

What we’re talking about is boots, skis and boards.  Ski boots particularly have a use by date or mileage limit, what ever comes sooner.  Simply speaking, they wear out. Boots particularly lose their stiffness and eventually stop supporting our ankles and feet the way they used to. If your boots are more than 10 years old, get new ones.  The new custom fit technology is pretty standard across brands now too, so you can say good riddance to sore feet and numb toes.

Skis and boards are another story. They don’t wear out as much as they become obsolete.  Ski technology in particular has moved ahead in leaps and bounds in the last 10 years.  If you haven’t heard of rocker, reverse camber and variable ski geometry, then it’s time you checked it out.  We’ve been skiing the DPS wailer in recent years and they’ve been an absolute revolution. We’re skiing better now than we were in our 20’s.

4. Stay hydrated

Of all the things we’ve listed so far, this is the easiest.  It’s really easy to become dehydrated in the snow.  In fact, it’s part of the reason yellow snow looks so yellow – generally because those doing it are probably dehydrated.

It’s also likely you’re dehydrated before you begin.  Coffee and dry air-conditioning (from the flight) or over heating in ski lodges all contribute to an unhealthy amount of dehydration.  So drink a pint of water before you head out for the day.

Once on the hill, we use a range of ‘camel back’ style back packs (the ones with installed water bladders and a hose to your mouth). Add electrolyte powder to improve muscle function and make it a bit more palatable (because drinking large amounts of water can get tedious).  Although it’s cold outside, it surprising how much you perspire under your gear. If you’re hydrated everything works better: your brain your muscles, your organs.  Believe us, you need water.

5. Skip lunch, but snack often

We’re not sure how this advice sits with nutritionists, but we’ve trialed this concept with great success.  Long lunches kill your mojo.  Simple. As much as it’s nice to stop for a big lunch and a beer (and we’ve certainly enjoyed a few of those), we found it just gave our bodies the opportunity to stew in lactic acid and then seize up. Invariably we’d return to the snow at about 1:30 – 2:00 o’clock only to find our legs were blown.  Typically we were good for one of two more runs but that was it (it just became too dangerous to continue).

So our advice is to have a big breakfast (lots of carbs), drink lots of water and snack as often as you can: chocolate is great for a quick shot of energy but the effect is short lived. Better to instead snack on things like nuts, good quality energy bars (not sugary ones) and even simple things like peanut butter sandwiches.  Stopping off for a quick dumpling and a coffee helps too. Using this approach we’ve increased our skiing time by 1-2 hours a day.  As an added bonus, you get the hill to yourself when everyone else goes in for lunch.

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Snack often, preferably with mates with better table manners than these two

 

6. Take regular onsens (or hot baths)

Last but not least, if you’re in Japan hit the onsens as often as you can. If you’re not in Japan, and you have access to a bath or even a hot spa, we recommend that too.  There’s nothing like a really hot bath to relax the muscles and help them recover in time for the next day.  Warning: In Japan, onsens equal seeing your friends and family completely naked. We have no tips to prepare you for that.

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Onsens are great, but there are no tips to prepare you for the sight of your naked friends and family. Image: https://vacationniseko.com

 

 

 

 

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