Spring is a fantastic time for skiers. We get to go home and see our family and friends, we get to take a break from training, and we get to eat or drink pretty much anything we want.
It is one of the few blissful time each year that we get to put down our full-time skier personas for a few weeks. People often don’t realize that for our entire training/racing season we are constantly on guard, making sure we sleep enough, doing everything we can to prevent injury, and trying like hell to keep ourselves healthy.
Unfortunately when we let our guard down, we open ourselves up to a lot of things, including sickness. This spring I was no exception, and I recently caught the flu-like virus that’s been raging it’s way around the Dartmouth College campus the last few weeks. After staying healthy for almost all of the ski season, and avoiding the plague that hit our team during Spring Series in Sun Valley, I had almost forgotten what it feels like to be sick.
When you’re healthy you often don’t give your good health a second thought, but the minute you get sick, you wonder how you could’ve ever lived such a happy carefree lifestyle. One minute you’re happily cruising along, and the next you can’t breath out of one nostril, your throat hurts, your resting heart rate skyrockets, and your temperature goes through the roof.
Being sick is a hard thing for skiers, because we often define ourselves on how active we are, but when you’re sick, you have to throw all activity out the window. Suddenly saying “I trained 20 hours this week!” doesn’t make you feel proud, it makes you feel…well, ill. This is an especially poignant feeling in the spring time when training is supposed to be starting up. If you get sick, you have to take some time off, and all of a sudden you’re behind on your training plan before the calendar strikes June. I think that’s the hardest part about being a sick skier, giving up all your physical activity; sickness takes away one of the biggest parts of our everyday lives and it can be really hard to reconcile that with the desire to kick your stupid cold.
Being sick sucks. It really does, but it’s also a constant part of being a skier. Remember Petter Northug?
What about Charlotte Kalla?
She got sick during the Olympics, but she didn’t let it drag her down. Almost every ski racer across the globe has a story about getting sick, and how it affected their training; what’s important though is that you learn from being sick. You learn how to take care of yourself, you learn what you need to do to get better, and if you’re lucky you can figure out what made you sick in the first place so you can do everything you can to avoid it in the future. I’m willing to bet that both Petter and Charlotte learned a lot from being sick, and used that to make themselves better skiers in the future, which is an example I intend to follow.