Trail Fitness Tips: Prepping for Ski Season
New season, new reason to get out there and get after it. Do you embrace the fall chill with a new fitness routine? We asked our KEEN TrailFit Ambassadors for their fall fitness go-tos—from workout to wardrobe to what they eat to power through it all.
HOW DO YOU WORK IT?
It’s important for me to be fit going into the ski season. I let my body lead, and pay attention to how I am feeling in my body, not my mind. What I mean by that is, no matter how hard I think I should be pushing myself, if I’m worn down, the training isn’t going to be effective. If I’ve had a big, stressful day of traveling, I am kind to myself and might do a gentle walk instead of a hard, uphill workout. If I have any nagging aches and pains, I make sure not to aggravate them, and I focus on what I can do, rather than what I can’t.
Sample training week:
Monday: 1-hour cardio hike
Wednesday: 1-hour cross-train – bike/run/swim/SUP/hike
Thursday: Hill Intervals – 20-minute warm-up, then 10 x 1 min. uphill sprints, 1- to 2-hour workout
Friday: 1- to 2-hour hike or run
Saturday or Sunday: Long day in the mountains, 6- to 12-hour hike, adding weight
One time per week, I like to incorporate interval training to build power in my legs for the upcoming winter. This can be done as part of a longer hike. I like to have one day of complete rest in my week of training. And on the weekend, I like to do at least one longer day in the mountains – between 6-12 hours of moving on my feet. To prepare for the demands of ski mountaineering, I start to add weight to my pack to help prepare my legs. I use empty water or orange juice containers and fill them with water, up to 40 lbs at a time. Then, I go try and rack up vert, not mileage, anywhere from 3,000’ – 7,000’ of climbing. Sometimes, I’ll have to climb the same mountain over and over a few times to get the amount of vert I need. I dump out the water for the downhill, so I don’t add wear and tear to my legs on the downhill.
This is the time of year when I also start training more with my trekking poles. These help simulate the type of uphill I do on skis in the winter, plus they help make hiking a full-body workout by involving arm muscles and my core. They also help save my knees, ankles, and hips on the down! I highly recommend them. My favorite are the Leki Micro Trail Pro poles – they are very lightweight and packable.
HOW DO YOU FUEL IT?
When I’m training hard, I try to make sure to eat several small meals throughout the day so I don’t ever bonk. I always carry a bar in my purse in case midday hunger strikes—one of my favorites is the nut butter-filled Clif Bars. The fat in the nut butter provides a slow release of energy throughout the day. For me, eating smaller meals and snacks throughout the day keeps my energy levels up, so I don’t get hangry.
Some of my favorite snacks include:
• Smashed avocado on toast
• Coconut milk in my coffee or cereal (extra fat to sustain long efforts in the mountains)
• Overnight oats or chia seed pudding
• Clif Shot Energy Gel – Mocha (caffeine is a must!)
It’s imperative to have a big meal within 20-30 minutes of finishing a prolonged workout (4+ hours). Ideally, it should have a combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates to start repairing damaged muscle as soon as possible. For this meal, my focus is on replacing lost calories. Some of my favorites include a big sandwich with mozzarella, tomato, basil, oil, and vinegar, plus potato chips, or a burger and French fries. I also love Annie’s Mac and Cheese with broccoli.
HOW DO YOU WEAR IT?
Autumn in the mountains means a wide range of temperatures. Some days, the temperature will go from 40 degrees F in the morning to 90 by midday! That’s a 50-degree range! For that reason, layers are essential. I like to wear tights in the fall—either capris or full-length—on the bottom. Then, I wear a tank top and a flannel over the top. The button-down flannel is really nice for fall because you can wear it open and throw it on when you get cold. I typically bring a big ball cap to keep the sun off my face and an ear warmer in case temperatures drop.
KEEN TrailFitTM Ambassador Caroline Gleich is a professional ski mountaineer who spends her "off season" jumping into one adventure after another and road-tripping to national monuments in support of public lands. To keep up with her ski descents, climbing ascents, and environmental activism, follow Caroline on Instagram at @carolinegleich.