How To Start The Training Year in 5 Steps

Posted by Gus Schumacher on May 3rd 2022

How To Start The Training Year in 5 Steps

So maybe you read my last SkiPost article: “Winding down from winter in 5 steps”, or maybe you didn’t, but wound down from winter anyway. Either way, I hope you took some time to chill and do things that make you happy, because returning to summer training is done best after a productive down period. The whole basis of “starting” the training year is that it had to stop at some point, and having a transition period in there is what enables you to build into another year of progress.

The traditional “Skiers’ New Year” has historically been May 1st, and some people are itching to get going by then, and others not, but either way you have to remember that it’s a long time until racing starts again, and likely even longer to you target races of next season. The first step is more for the person that is ready to go full blast again.

1. Ease into it

If you did at least a little activity during your down time, then this will be a little simpler. If you’re coming straight off the couch, keep that in mind. One mistake people make is hitting training too hard right off the bat before their body is fully ready to absorb training. You get faster by absorbing training, not just by doing it, so making sure you’re doing as much training as you can handle and bounce back from is going to be the best way to build to a high level in December, January, even March. I like to make sure I’m running with some frequency, and doing a wide diversity of activity types to spread the load out among my body. This is to make sure that I have a solid foundation when I want to start loading up more. I also generally try to do the same number of sessions I would do in mid-summer, but keep the intensity and duration lower. As you feel yourself adapting to the new training, you can gradually increase the intensity and duration.

2. Revisit those goals

Hopefully you checked in on how your year went at the end of the season, but if not, it’s not too late. Talk to someone that knows you and your training and just go over what went well and what you want to improve. Knowing this will help guide your training, and this time of year is great for setting the tone and emphasis of the rest of your summer. For example, a couple of my big targets for this season are to bump up the L3 volume a little bit and work on increasing my mobility. This time of year I’m not doing much L3, but I can still start thinking about how I want that to look in my schedule. I can also really start ingraining mobility habits like sitting down after each session and going through some range of motion, especially while I’m not training so much that I feel too tired or time-constrained to do it.

3. Make plans

It’s hard to know exactly what you’ll be up to all summer, but this is a great time to figure out any travel or big summer event so you can work your training around that. I think it’s really important to have solid structure in your training, so the more you plan ahead, the less you’ll have to accommodate events that may interfere with your training. For example, if you know you’re going to have to travel for a wedding in September, maybe schedule a recovery week that week so you can take the travel and time off without messing with your body’s rhythm.

4. Find your place

For some people this may be obvious, they’re going to be where they live. However, some people (looking at you, college kids) don’t really know where to go. This is a great time to iron out your living plan for the summer so you don’t have to change it much once training is in full swing. I’d say the biggest things to consider when thinking about where to set up camp are: who will be there, can you stay in one place, is it comfortable, and are the training facilities good. Some of this is obvious, and the biggest thing is that you’re happy and content wherever you are. Making sure this home base is solid and takes care of your needs is the base of the pyramid for training success.

5. Get psyched!!

One benefit of taking time off is you tend to get antsy to train again, and having this drive is super helpful! There are tons of ways to develop motivation for a summer of training though, and it’s up to you to find your own. Some people always want to train, some need a team around them that motivates them, and some just need to line up some good goals. Whatever it is, being excited about training is one of the biggest tools you have to push those limits. Maybe it’s skiing edits on YouTube, maybe it’s new gear, who knows. Just get stoked!! (And if you feel like you need to take some more time off to let your body and mind fully recover, do that. Starting the season happy, healthy, and energized is going to be way more beneficial than an extra two weeks of “blah” training.)

I hope your off-season was great, your gear all works, and you’re all set to get better! This is one of the best, and most rewarding times of the year—enjoy it!!