How Running Can Improve Your Skiing
While some of us take up a physical activity in the months leading up to ski season, many New Haven skiers exercise year-round. In fact, you’re likely to see dozens of people out jogging nearly every day of the week. Our tiny town is home to several boutique running stores, dozens of races year-round, and hundreds of fantastic running routes. We have running clubs to help people connect and organizations designed to get people moving. If New Haven is known for any sport, its running.
But how does running affect skiing? Are we able to practice the two concomitantly, or should we give up running during ski season? Does skiing make you a better runner? What about vice-versa? Mixed physical activity is always complex when practiced intensely and for long periods of time. Skiing and running, however, seem like a match made in heaven; running is a dynamic activity, while downhill skiing is relatively static. Let me explain.
Running, especially distance running, is a dynamic activity that builds the endurance system at the muscle and heart level to perform for longer periods of time. The more you run, the healthier your cardiovascular system. You work several muscles while running, but much of the exercise is concentrated in the legs, and the small movements don’t build much muscle. If anything, they result in a lean physique.
Conversely, downhill skiing is a mostly static activity that requires leg strength for a prolonged muscle contraction. Skiing, for most of us, is similar to strength training. You hold specific positions for long periods of time, then shift when it’s time to start, turn, or stop.
In every sport, the best conditioning is the sport itself—if you want to become a better running, run more; if you want to become a better skier, ski more. However, practicing running and skiing concomitantly can only be positive. It creates a full-body and comprehensive workout without overlapping too much in terms of muscle fatigue. When practiced together, athletes will find themselves more in-shape. Runners especially will notice a difference, as overtraining one muscle (a common running mistake) can result in injury; skiing provides more complex muscle engagement.
So, if you’re wondering if running will get you into shape for ski season, the short answer is, “It’s complicated, but yes.” If you’re wondering if you can maintain a high level of running training during the ski season, the answer is also a resounding “yes.”