The Summer Process

Pushing to Improve

I had a lot of free time this spring. Instead of running track, I was sitting on the sidelines, cheering for my teammates and friends, watching what should have been my last season of high school athletics. To keep my mind off the track, I instead thought about what I was gonna have to do to reach the level of strength and endurance I had before my surgery and shoulder injury.  Many athletes do this every spring- reflecting back at their season and asking themselves, what went well, and what could have been better?
Standing on the sidelines suck- but it's slightly better when you're cheering your younger sister on to a school record
When I was younger, I was very small, and strength wasn't a strong suit for me. I often was crushed in races that required a lot of double poling, so one summer, I made double poling, and the power that comes with it a priority. When the next season came around, I felt finally felt confident about that part of the race, and I felt the focus and time I spent was completely worth it. Ever since then, I have been a strong believer that in order to become a better skier throughout the years, you must constantly be working on your weaknesses and turning them into your strengths. 

One of the first skis, post surgery
When I was looking at all of the changes that I had gone through in the prior months, I had a hard time seeing anything that didn't need fixing. The changes since my surgery are obvious, even at a first glance. The muscle that had taken years to build up, was gone- especially in my back, arms, and shoulders.  The time I took off made me lose some aerobic capacity, something that I wasn't that strong off to begin with. The losses were frustrating, but I was still determined to make up that ground. Although I knew what I wanted the end result to be, I didn't know how long the process would take.  

15k Race- in an attempt to improve my fitness
To my surprise, my surgeon cleared me to ski on my birthday, in the first week of June. When I had my surgery, they had warned me that I might not be able to get on skis until the middle of July, so that was the best birthday surprise I could have received.  When I first got on skis, it wasn't perfect. I was skittish and my balance was slightly off. It took me weeks to finally get comfortable again, and once I started doing speed on intervals again, it took me even longer to finally feel everything click- and have my technique fall back together again. 

My summer focus has been about testing the waters and seeing what feels right. I try my best to push myself, but I'm also more cautious than most summers, if something doesn't feel right, or I feel abnormally tired, I hold back. Gaining back my endurance and strength is a ssllloooowwww and tedious process (and sometimes I wish I could push a button that would make me super strong again) but it has been rewarding in seeing my body and skiing change again. 
Believe it or not, getting better is hard

Besides my obvious changes in my skiing, there are some other slight changes in my training. Because I have less strength and endurance than in the past, recovery takes a little bit longer than I'm use to. Because of this, my workout results are a little unpredictable. Some days I feel amazing and similar to my old ability, and other days I feel like something is dragging me down. Finding a balance between pushing my body to become fitter and stronger, while staying healthy and producing high quality workouts is a struggle, but each week is better than the last, and I'm getting better at listening to my body. 

I have also been working on improving my confidence and taking advantage of my strengths in skiing
I'm not always the most patient person, and knowing that I was once faster, stronger, and fitter is frustrating  By working on my current weaknesses, it's easier to see changes, and  have a little bit of perspective on my improvements over the summer rather  than constantly comparing myself to last year or other people. The small goals are keeping me sane and motivated to keep on chugging along. 

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