​Breathing in That Spring Mountain Air Sophie Caldwell-Hamliton

Posted by Sophie Caldwell-Hamilton, Karmen M. Whitham on Sep 18th 2020

​Breathing in That Spring Mountain Air Sophie Caldwell-Hamliton

By Sophie Caldwell-Hamilton 

It has been at interesting spring and I hope everyone has been navigating these challenging times as smoothly as possible. I usually spend most of my spring out in Colorado, visiting Simi's family and doing some mountain adventures. After our final World Cup races were cancelled, Simi and I got in a car a drove through the night to get to Colorado. It was important for us to be able to spend this time with family, but we felt driving minimized our risk of getting or spreading any germs. We were very grateful to be living in a place this spring where we still had access to the outdoors and space. We spent a lot of time with our quarantine pod of family, but we were also able to do a lot of mountain exploring.  

I always see spring as the time to recharge mentally. As far as physical activity goes, there are many days where I do zero exercise and many days where I do some big adventures. I personally don't do a whole lot of in-between during the spring. For me, it's important to get physically rested, but I think the mental rest is probably the most important and I feel more mentally rested after a mix of physical rest and adventures. I don't follow a training plan in the spring and I don't wear a heart rate monitor. This ensures that I'm doing activities because it's what I want to be doing and not because I'm trying to fit training in. Having this loose schedule allows me to be excited for some more structure when the training season rolls around in May. 

I'm not sure what our summer will look like. There are a lot of unknowns right now and I recognize that there are much scarier unknowns than the ones I'm dealing with. If I had to guess, I would guess that I will be spending a lot of time in one place in Vermont, with my SMS T2 teammates. Because of this and the cancellation of our Bend camp, I decided to spend a little more time than usual in Colorado this spring. While I don't like to do too much training at a super high altitude, the access to adventures in the mountain was a great way to begin building a good fitness base before jumping into more ski specific training once I returned to Vermont. I've now been back in Vermont for two weeks and it has been nice to ease my way back into more rollerskiing, some strength training, and even some intervals. I want to be careful to take my time and make sure I am mixing up my modes of training enough because if we truly are in one place for the training year, there will be plenty of time to get ski specific. So for now, I am trying to strike the balance of still enjoying some adventure training, while working back into the soreness of ski specific training. I feel very lucky to have been able to experience the thin air of the Colorado mountains and now to be able to get back to business in the thick air of VT! The access to space and mountains is something I will never take for granted again. 

SkiPost: Sophie, this summer many athletes, especially juniors are unable to adhere to their "normal" or otherwise planned summer routines. Many are without their summer jobs, volunteer work, socializing etc. What advice would you give to those who are trying to keep a balance between ski training and their personal lives now with many of the non-training aspects are out-of-order this summer? How important is it to have things to focus on other than ski training? Any tips or tricks to creating balance? 
Sophie: This is a great question and I will try my best to give some sound advice! I think it's important to remember that life looks different for everyone right now in. Sometimes when I get frustrated about the fact that I'm not allowed to go to the gym or train with a big group, I try to remind myself that things could be a lot worse and that I can still work towards my goals with a little creativity. I have always believed that balance is a key ingredient to success and it can be difficult to feel a sense of balance during these times. I know sometimes the last thing we feel like doing is looking at a screen for any longer, but one thing I have found helpful is to make sure I'm staying in touch with friends and family. Just because I can't see them in person, it doesn't mean I can't talk to them. If you pick one person to call every day, it can be a great way to stay connected and maybe even reconnect with someone you've been meaning to reach out to for a long time. Another suggestion would be to find a class you could take online. I have been slowly working towards a masters degree online and I find it to be a nice distraction and a good way to feel like I'm working towards something. I have not looked into this, but I've heard that many Ivy League colleges are offering some free online classes. That could be a great way to engage your mind without the pressure of grades. Lastly, I've always found goal setting to be a very useful tool in life, whether it's related to skiing or not. When I've been injured, I've set some very small process goals for myself and it feel good to be accomplishing something that will ultimately help you reach a larger goal. For example, after I broke my elbow and was able to use it again, but needed to gain upper body strength, I told myself I was going to do 100 push-ups a day. I made a little chart and checked the box next to each day I completed it. It wasn't anything crazy, but accomplishing that each day felt good, helped me build strength, and wasn't as daunting to think about as it may have been to look at where I was and wonder how in the world I was going to get to where I wanted to be. I think this practice of setting process goals can be used in all aspects of life. Maybe your goal is to call one person each day, maybe it's to spend 15 minutes cleaning your room or house each day, or maybe it's to try one new recipe a week. These all work and it's a nice way to feel like you're working towards something!