Brooke Ely Danielson is a 9x marathoner and dedicated skier living in Aspen. She shares her take on being a runner and a skier, explains why being in great running shape is not enough to be ready for skiing, along with her favorite moves to prepare for ski season.
As a runner and a skier, I know firsthand about the strong correlation between the fitness necessary for running and skiing. Both sports demand a tremendous amount of leg power. From your thighs, down to your calf muscles, running and skiing can fatigue your muscles and leave you sore—both are incredibly endurance driven.
Running, for me, is a year-round sport, while skiing is about five to six months of the year (although I wish it was year-round locally!). I run not only for fun, but also train for one to two marathons, annually. Strength training is a critical component of marathon training. It also has a lot of synergies with ski season preparation, especially the leg and core strength routines that supplement my daily cardio. For more on the benefits of running skiing see our related post on Balancing Alpine Skiing with other Endurance Sports.
Despite being in great running shape all year round – especially coming out of fall marathon season – I find it's not enough. Below, I share the extra steps I take to get ready for ski season:
1. Weighted Squats. These will build up strength in your muscles, specifically the gluteus maximus and help for control and strength on the mountain.
Holding 2-7 pound weights down by your side, spread your feet to about hip-width apart for stability. When squatting down, sit back on your heels and engage your core. Be sure that your knees are pointing straight forward, not out. Squeeze back up into the standing position. Try 1-15 reps, 3x.
2. Weighted Reverse Lunges. Lunges, like squats, use the same muscles as skiing, but have an increased range of motion and help develop balance.
Hold 5-7 pound weights down by your side, spread your feet to about hip-width apart. Take a long step back and gently lower your back knee so it just grazes the ground. Keep your back heel directly above your foot and your hips forward. Try 8-16 reps, 3x.
3. Calf Stretch. No one wants to feel the pain of their calves cramping in their ski boots. Make sure to stretch your calves often, especially after a workout.
Try placing a twisted towel under your foot while lying down with this leg in the air; extend your other leg on the floor. With the raised leg and foot, gently pull the towel back until you feel the stretch and cannot go any further.
Another method worth trying, and easier to work into your daily routine, is flexing your foot upward against a wall and pressing gently into it, stretching the calf.
4. Yoga. Yoga is a great for getting ready and keeping you limber all season long. I gravitate toward tree pose, which is beneficial for balance and important on the slopes.
Tree Pose. Tree pose demands balance while strengthening your core and stretching your inner thigh muscles. Begin by feeling the ground beneath you to center your body. Once you feel balanced, bring one leg up and place the sole of your foot on the opposite inner thigh. Focus and hold center, then lift your arms up overhead as if you were a tree! Hold this pose for at least 5 breaths.
For more on our favorite yoga poses for skiing see our related post, Yoga for Skiing: Strength & Recovery, All in One.
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