It’s Time to Plan a Ski Vacation!

Yeah, I know it’s summer and everyone is rolling down to the beach, but now is the time to start planning a ski trip. You’ll have the best prices and the most options for flights, resorts, and dates if you think ahead!

  • Want to Avoid the Rush?
    • If you can avoid it, or afford the vacation days, it’s best to avoid holiday weekends, particularly Christmas. A lot of resorts won’t have quality snow that early in the winter, and will be overrun with travelers. Flights and hotels will be pricey, and unbelievably crowded. Spring skiing is a good option because resorts typically have plenty of snow, and if you avoid spring break week you won’t run into as many people on the mountain. 
  • AirBnB or Resort?
    • Both have perks! Resorts may offer extras like ski valets, breakfast buffets, shuttles and room service (nothing like having a burger and a beer brought to your door after a tiring day!) AirBnb’s can offer ski-in ski-out access, a big fireplace, or a hot tub all to yourself. You can also plan ahead for a full kitchen if you’re not looking to eat all your meals out. Both options can be found in any price range. In my experience, with a big group, it’s fun to rent a house so everyone can stay together. If you are looking for something a little fancier, check out the resorts!
  • Need Some New Gear?
    • If you start planning now you can decide what you’ll need for gear, and shop the sales if you’re buying. If you aren’t aren’t interested in checking oversized baggage, research the shops in the resort areas. You may be able to find some deals this far ahead! Rentals at the mountain will like come with a higher price tag, but the convenience is often worth it. Pus, if you normally ski the east, you might want some fatter skis to help you glide through the powder. Demo days are also fun, so check out if any big brands will be posting up on the mountain during your stay! Could cut your rental fees by a day or so. 

The best part of planning so far ahead? You have a ski trip to look forward too through the long and hot summer. 

5 Tips to for a Better Lunch-Hour Workout

 

If you are tied to a desk 9-5, you understand the difficulty of balancing a fitness regimen with other demands of your life. Family, social events, work events, and chores are all vying for your time and attention in those hours you call “free time.” Even though I find exercise to be fun, invigorating, and relaxing, it’s often hard to work up the motivation to get to the gym before the sun is up, or to put on my running shoes after a long day of meetings.

To stay on track, I’ll hit the gym during my lunch hour instead of going out with coworkers.  Here my 5 tips to make squeezing in a workout during your lunch hour a breeze.

1. The Night Before

Prep, prep, prep! I set out my breakfast, lunch or post-workout shake, and put a water bottle in the freezer. I also get my gym bag together and put it out next to my work briefcase so I can’t forget anything. Just a few minutes at night can streamline the morning and make sure you get to work with everything you need.

2. Keep it Simple

For a lunch workout, you have about 40 minutes to actually work out, less if your gym isn’t right around the corner. Creating a simple workout strategy will keep you on track so you don’t end up with aimlessly wandering through machines wondering what to work on next. The easiest way is to pick one focus: like cardio, HIIT, or strength training. Some gyms offer special classes to really pack a punch during the lunch rush.

3. Make it Social Hour

If you feel like you are missing out on the social aspect of lunch with coworkers, grab a friend. Meeting up at the gym holds you accountable, and you can motivate each other to work harder. The best qualities in a workout partner differ for everyone. Some people like to instruct, other liked to be instructed. Some people just want to meet up with a friendly face before plugging in their ear phones and doing their own thing. As long as you and your workout partner are on the same page, there is no good reason not to work out with a friend! Not only does meeting a friend make you less likely to cancel a gym session, but talking while running can also increase your cardiovascular capacity!

4. Save Time for Shower Time

If I’ve done cardio, I usually need a shower in order to stay on good terms with my coworkers. I will hop right off the treadmill and head for the shower line. While I’m in line, I’ll do some basic standing stretches to loosen up. If you don’t have time to stretch, it’s okay. Studies have shown that stretches even hours after the workout are still beneficial. It’s all about what works for you. I prefer to do a quick basic stretch routine so my calves don’t tighten up while I sit at my desk.

5. Don’t Run on Fumes

Whether you are rushing back from the gym or have some time to spare, you can’t forget about post-workout fuel. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and bring your lunch on the days you will be gymming it up during lunch so you don’t have to complicate your plans with an extra stop. If I have afternoon meetings, I like to leave freeze a smoothie in the office freezer and toss it in my bag to thaw so I can have a quick snack right after I work out. If I have free time, I’ll eat at my desk while I get organized for the afternoon.

With these tips, you’ll have no problem crafting a lunchtime workout routine that you’ll stick with. As long as it is enjoyable, there’s no reason to quit. Running back and forth to the gym can be a lot of effort, so if you streamline it by planning ahead, it’s more likely to become a habit. Lunchtime workouts can easily become an escape from the office commotion, and they’ll help you blow off some steam so you’ll be sharp and focused for your busy afternoon.

Hammocks vs. Tents

Camping season is upon us, and if you’re planning on trekking for a few days or just chilling out by a fire with some friends you need a place to sleep in the woods. Tents are utilitarian, but not so comfortable if you’ve set up your stakes on rocky ground. Hammocks are versatile and lightweight to carry, and they are super comfy to sleep on. But beware, if trees are sparse you’ve got a glorified sack to sleep in. Here are my pros and cons:

Hammocks

Pro: Hammocks are lightweight and easy to carry if you’re hiking.

Con: If they don’t have a built in bug net and rain fly you have to pack those separately. In cold weather, you’ll need an underquilt in addition to your sleeping bag.

Pro: Hammocks make camping on rocky uneven ground a breeze.

Con: You need two big sturdy trees at the right distance apart. Good luck hammocking in the grand canyon or on the beach if you don’t bring a stand.

Tents

Pro: Tents are usable anywhere, trees or not.

Con: Rocky grounds and hills can make for a less-than-stellar sleeping experience. This can be remedied with a high quality sleeping pad as long as you don’t mind carrying it.

Pro: Tents are roomier. You can sit up in a tent, keep your shoes in a tent if it’s raining, and you can fit more than one person in a tent.

Con: Two person tents mean two people sleeping shoulder-to-shoulder. If you’re not cool with snuggling, you’ll need a bigger tent.

Basically, you need to decide what is best for the trip you have planned, and get creative to make it work. One quick tip – make sure your hammock is tethered to sturdy trees! I once pulled a tree right out of the ground with my hammock after a week of rain softened the ground. If I’d looked up at the branches, I would have noticed the tree was dead! Live and learn my friends.

 

Rock Climbing from Your Couch

Rock climbing is a fun sport, but it can really beat you up. When you don’t have the time, money, or friends to go with you, there’s another way to get your adrenaline fix. Video game rock climbing seems kind of like a cop-out, but with new tech like Virtual Reality, it’s getting more and more realistic. It’s so awesome it will make your palms sweat like you are standing on a ledge.

Check out some of Google’s cool projects with street view rock climbing for El Capitan and Mont Blanc and Crytek’s new game coming for Oculus Rift.

While you won’t get the wind in your face, Crytek comes pretty close with jaw-dropping views and sound effects.

So for those days when you can’t be bothered to leave the couch, you can still enjoy the great outdoors!

Spring Cleaning: 3 Great Workouts

Now that winter is coming to a close, it’s time to focus on the adventures spring has in store!

I’m thinking lots of rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, and maybe a couple of lazy days at the lake.

While skiing helps keep me strong for spring sports, I like to throw some specialized workouts in there to keep my arms and back strong for climbing, my legs strong for mountain biking, and my endurance up for running (skiing 4 miles > running 4 miles).

Here are some great workouts and ideas to get you started:

http://www.outsideonline.com/2007426/how-do-i-improve-my-pull-technique

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/issa21.htm

https://www.trailrunnermag.com/training/cross-training/article/1769-5-workouts-to-build-trail-race-ready-strength/page-2

 

 

3 Crazy Endurance Races that Push the Limits

Sometimes I finish a really long run or a strenuous hike and think that I’ve exhausted myself to my very limits and can’t push anymore. And that might be true because once I wildly underestimated the amount of water I would need on a 10-mile hike and considered drinking from a (not so clean) stream at the end. That was miserable.

But I like to push myself and see what I am capable of, and doing that is a long process of learning and failing and eventually succeeding. I found some articles about some unbelievable races that are designed to push humans to their very limits.

This boat race covers 750 miles in variable conditions. The only rules: No motors and no support along the way.

This 100 mile foot race in the mountains of Frozen Head State Park, TN is designed for failure. There’s no map, no GPS, and just making it to the start line is nearly impossible.

This race has you ascending and descending four peaks on skis. You better be ready to bring your uphill game.

As cool as it would be to participate in one of these, I think I’ll stick with my shorter races. But who knows?

Bucket List Update

Made it through the first two months of the year! At the end of 2015, I shared my bucket list with you all here. My news years resolution was to ski as much as possible this year, and I think I did a pretty good of staying true to that. (Not the hardest resolution I am aware.) As spring comes along, I’m making some more goals for myself since I can’t keep skiing once the snow is gone…

Number 1: Get in good shape for running. I haven’t seen my good old friend the gym much this winter – although I’ve tried. Skiing helps with endurance, but getting those miles in isn’t going to be fun at first.

Number 2: Go hiking! In my opinion, living near the mountains is a waste if you never make time to enjoy the outdoors. Hikes long and short always help me de-stress and appreciate the world I live in.

Number 3: Go on adventures with friends. I’ve gotten a lot of people to come skiing with me who normally wouldn’t. They were willing to try something new, so it’s my turn! Whether they want to go white water rafting, backpacking, road-tripping, I’d love to learn something new with my friends and fam.

Skiing: Frequently Asked Questions

As a diehard skier trying to spend every day that I can on the slopes, I get a lot of questions. When it’s chilly out, I can never complain because people always ask “You’re a skier, don’t you like being cold?”

So I thought I’d do a little Q&A with the questions I frequently get from friends and family.

 

Q: Doesn’t being cold make skiing less fun?

A: I enjoy skiing so much that cold doesn’t bother me, but I don’t want to stand around in -10 weather.

 

Q: Isn’t it boring to ski green (easy) or blue (intermediate) trails once you are an “expert”?

A: I enjoy the advanced terrain, the moguls, the deep pow, but I also like a nice meandering trail with a view or a freshly groomed beginner trail with no one else on it. Skiing for me is about having fun – whatever the condition.

 

Q: Is ski racing an event where everyone lines up and tries to get to the bottom first?

A: That sounds kind of like skier-cross, which includes banked turns and jumps as well. I would totally give that a try. However, traditional ski racing is a little more organized and looks like this

 

Q: Doesn’t gravity do all the work for you? Why do you need to be get in shape for skiing?

A: Gravity helps, but there’s technique involved. It’s a workout, and the mountain sure knows how to kick my butt. Getting in shape helps make the ski season more fun.
What are the most common questions you get about your hobbies?

A Skier’s Dream Car

A Skier’s Dream Car

I’ve been looking into new (to me) cars, because mine is rugged and sturdy, but I want something that is actually fun to drive. Mine is going on 110,000 miles and I think now might be a good time to sell.

This one looks like a lot of fun, but unfortunately its top speed is 40 mph because it is meant for driving on ski slopes…

That one is out for practicality purposes.

Which brings me to these beauties, which unfortunately are also out for financial reasons, and possibly because they aren’t the best for commuting to work everyday.

And my car is pretty good in the snow, but no way could it ever do this.

I’ll probably settle for something a little less flashy and look into something a little sporty, a little practical, and a lot more fun to drive than my clunky old CR-V.

The Weekend is Almost Here

Who else is looking forward to some powder over the holiday weekend? I remember skiing small, crowded resorts on holiday weekends as our yearly family ski vacation. While it is nice to have the mountain to yourself, nothing beats having some friends stay for a long weekend, and skiing in a group, regardless of ability, or crowds. The ski bum life isn’t for everyone, but it’s nice when everyone can get together and ski bum it for a weekend!