A ski or snowboard trip can require a lot of planning and expense, so it’s understandable to want to maximize your time while there. However, if you’re new to winter sports, or it’s just been a long time since you’ve hit the slopes, you may not know what’s reasonable, feasible or safe.
That’s why we asked Jim Myers, director of Digital Fitness/Virtual Coaching for FX Well, a managing entity for the Texas Health fitness centers, to get a few quick tips on how to plan out your trip with safety and recovery in mind, how to fuel up for a day on the slopes, and how to properly recover at night so you can make the most of your trip this winter.
“I am a Colorado local and take friends and family to the slopes year-round,” Myers says. “I actually specialize in getting people ready to ski and snowboard. Outside of fitness, there are a lot of habits that can be helpful when preparing for your trip and having someone that can help keep you accountable can be very helpful.”
Building Out Your Week
First things first, make sure you are well-rested before the trip starts. Hopefully, you have been training for 3+ months and can “de-load.” This is when you do less overall work with your training, so you are primed when your trip starts.
Since about a week is a common length of time that many people choose for their trip to the slopes, Myers suggests breaking your trip down accordingly.
Day 1: This is your first day out on the mountain. If you’re new, ideally you’re spending this day receiving lessons which commonly range from half-day (three hours) to full-day (five hours) depending on the resort you’re at. For everyone else, I suggest sticking to that 3-5 hour timeline on the mountain to get acquainted with the runs and conditions. This can be a slightly easier day if you’re experienced.
Day 2: We’re working our way up a bit from the first day with a 4 to 8-hour day. Get out there and explore or utilize those skills you learned in ski/snowboard school! Hit those runs you want to hit. If you’re still feeling unsure about your skills, you can utilize this day for another round of ski school.
Day 3: Take a rest. After two days of hitting the slopes, chances are you might be feeling a little sore, especially if it’s been a while or you’re new to the sport. If you’re staying at the resort, chances are there’s a spa you can visit for a great massage, sit in the sauna, or plunge in the hot tub or hot springs to help give those muscles a break. Maybe visit a trendy restaurant or brewery nearby, or simply explore the town. Make sure to hydrate and eat some good food.
Day 4: We’re back at it with a 4 to 8-hour day. You should be nice and rested and your skill level may be going up! Get out there and take advantage of the break you gave your body yesterday and gain some comfort with the mountain and your skills!
Day 5: This final day will be contingent on how you’re feeling. If you have something left in the tank, get out there and enjoy it. If not, that is ok! By day 5 your legs will likely be tired. It might be a good day to do some easier runs, take more breaks and enjoy the great outdoors or what the resort town has to offer! Don’t push it, though. Listen to your body and call it quits when your body says so to help prevent injury.
“Water, coffee, and a big breakfast provide a good foundation for the day,” Myers says. “You are going to burn a lot of calories out there so don’t be too conscious of how much you eat. Just make sure you are getting some fat, protein and carbohydrates in your first meal of the day.”
Myers also suggests packing a snack with you before you head to the slopes to fuel up without having to head back, such as a Cliff bar, or even a sugary treat.
Below is an example of what a day of eating can look like on the mountain:
Pre-breakfast: I like to hydrate with a hydration multiplier or an electrolyte drink, such as Liquid IV, and 20 ounces of water first thing when I get up.
Breakfast: One banana, 20 ounces of water and a cup of coffee. This is followed by a breakfast burrito with egg, bacon, potatoes, cheese and avocado. Potatoes are very high in energy density so will keep you fueled up through the day.
Snack: RX bar, a Snickers bar, and 20 ounces of water (seeing a theme here?)
Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich — yes, you read that right.
“I also pack an EPIC beef jerky bar and wash it all down with, again, 20 ounces of water. Maybe I’ll throw a hot chocolate in there as well,” Myers adds.
Dinner: Dinner can be whatever you want but make sure there are a good amount of carbs and protein — potentially more than you’d typically eat. The carbs and proteins can help make up for the high level of activity from skiing all day and help you feel more prepared for the next day.
Recovering after a day on the slopes is essential to prevent injury and get your body to hit the slopes the next day.
“This might sound like a broken record by now, but it is important,” Myers says. “Hydrate, eat good food and get a good night’s rest!”
Myers suggests packing a massage gun or a foam roller, or seeing if your resort/hotel fitness center has one.
“You’re using a lot of muscle groups out on the slopes, especially the large muscle groups such as your legs,” Myers adds. “Foam rolling or a massage gun can help ease sore muscles, break up any knots or tension and help you recover faster.”
Don’t have access to a foam roller or massage gun? Myers suggests a massage.
“After all, you’re on vacation, right? Go get a massage,” he explains. “Many resorts have spas on site, or look around for a local massage place in town. This will help get you into a relaxed state and speed up the recovery process as well.
“If you get your massage at a resort, a lot of times you will get a day pass to their spa, too. This will give you access to a sauna, steam room, cold plunges, elevation therapy and more which are also great recovery tools,” Myers adds.
If massages aren’t your thing, or you don’t have the time or resources to foam roll sore muscles, Myers says it’s important to stay mobile with light movement during your rest periods.
“Do some light walking, such as exploring the town you’re in and get some light stretches in, such as ankle circles, hip circles, the couch stretch and the world's greatest stretch. Those are a few of my favorites,” he says.
Whether you’re a regular snow bunny or hitting the slopes for the first time, some preparation can go a long way in preventing serious injury and helping you make the most of your trip. Need some guidance for how to prepare for an upcoming trip to the slopes? We’ve got you covered: Preparation is Key for Staying Safe on the Slopes This Winter.