femalestrength · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions · skiing · training

Just Trying—For A Zesty Start to 2020

A few years ago, my cross-country ski mate moved to Montana. We had developed a relaxed, yet ferocious, approach to our shared ski workouts—lots of hard work and lots of chat time. My perfect workout partner. After she left, I lost my mojo.

I almost didn’t notice. For the first couple of years I was dealing with the run up and the aftermath of surgery for a neuroma in my foot. Not that I had to take any significant time off; it was more that the pain prior to the surgery dampened my enthusiasm and then I didn’t quite trust the absence of pain. Even as I write this, I know that my diminished energy for skiing was more to do with losing my partner-in-energy-for-fierce-workouts than it was related to the surgery.

When the ski season started this year, I noticed for the first time how many moments I told myself that I wasn’t fit enough anymore to do a workout from years past. For example, I used to ski up certain gradual hills using V2 (the most powerful skate ski stroke; think of it like the hard gear in the big chain ring on a bike). Now, I was intimidated by the prospect. I told myself that I shouldn’t even try until I got in better shape. Now, that’s a vicious cycle.

Then, skiing on December 31st, I suddenly realized—what am I doing? Just try, I told myself. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? You can’t finish the effort you started? What does that even mean? I’m the one who decides when the effort is done. I’m the one who decides whether I made a good effort or a not. And, if I never make the effort, then I can definitely keep telling myself I can’t.

So, in the middle of my ski, I just tried. I alternated V2 with the moderate ski stroke I normally default to. The next day, January 1, as I was finishing my ski, I got inspired. First day of the year, more, first day of the new decade, try on a new attitude. Plus, I was buoyed by my effort the day before. As I approached the hill where I used to do V2 intervals, I decided to throw in one interval. Just one. Just try. The hill was SO hard. I almost coughed up a lung, as a friend used to say. I got to the top. My technique was a mess. I was done in. I felt that nice glow of accomplishment.

I’m starting to thread back in bits of workouts from the days with my ski pal. It feels good. Fresh. Exhilarating even, as I feel the fizz of enthusiasm returning. As always, the experience makes me question, where else in my life can I just try more? Just try feels forgiving. More about the intention than the outcome. I’m less daunted. I’m less likely to judge myself, when trying is the key to my pleasure, not accomplishing a certain speed.

On January 3, I did the whole interval workout I used to do. V2 up the gradual hill. Fast as I can around and down the other side. Double pole on the barely-discernible-uphill back to the start of the loop. Six times. Just enough energy left for some ski dancing in celebration.

I feel an uptick of overall life optimism from my new and renewed attitude on skis; a zesty feeling I wish I could bottle for the less pleasant days. But life’s operating instructions are pretty clear: Best Enjoyed Now.

Will do.

What’s on your Just Try list?

2 thoughts on “Just Trying—For A Zesty Start to 2020

  1. One of my “just try” things is skate skiing! My boyfriend’s family does a post-Christmas ski trip that I’ve attended maybe five times now? The first year, I didn’t even bother trying to learn to skate – all types of cross-country skiing were new to me, skating required a lot more stamina and coordination than classic, and there was no way I could learn it well enough to keep up with these people who had been doing this for so much longer than I had. (Basically: it seemed hard and I knew I was going to be bad at it.) The next year, I decided to try anyway. It was really hard! I was really bad! I grumped more than necessary at my boyfriend, who for the most part endured my bad attitude without complaint! But over the last few years, I’ve tried several more times, and have been rewarded with slow progress – from huffing and puffing my way around a flat track (year 1) to making my way around a long intermediate course at a leisurely pace with only a few breaks over the course of an hour (a few weeks ago). I’m still objectively “bad”, probably, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come, which wouldn’t have been possible if I had ruled myself out as a skate skier before I even started, or given up after the first frustrating attempt.

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    1. I love reading this. And in my opinion, skate skiing is one of the most strenuous physical activities, so you should revel in your accomplishments! I usually barely make it out of the parking lot before I’m huffing and puffing. I bet you’re doing way better than you are giving yourself credit for.

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