Contributed by o2fit-athlete, Kim Larson
I once read an article about 10 health benefits of cross country skiing. I never thought twice about it after flipping through it, until this year. With 23 feet of snow in January (more then we have seen in the Truckee-Tahoe area for over 5 years) I needed to find something for myself and my yellow lab Kuta to do so we could both get exercise and not have to stay on the roads walking with a leash.
I decided to buy myself a pair of cross country skis and with the help of a good friend I got a few pointers and started taking Kuta up to Tahoe Donner XC, where they have 5 miles of dog friendly trails. I quickly learned this was going to be a great workout for the both of us!
Getting used to skinny skis with no edges is a little awkward at first, especially when you spend your weekends teaching downhill skiing. But with practice we are now making it a little further out on the trails each time and with less falls. I remember the article saying that XC skiing gives you a full body work out, and I couldn’t agree more. After the first time out, and a few hard falls going downhill, my body was so sore! I could barely lift my arms and my glutes hurt, worse than after a long break in running.
Another thing I remembered the article talking about was how social xc skiing can be. That is spot on, it could be because we are on the dog trails, and most dog owners are super friendly, but every time we go out we meet someone new who asks how things are going. There are not a lot of social sports – but this really is one! I also find it is a great way to unwind after a long day of working and just like mountain biking and trail running, it is just you and nature (at least where I live). It’s great exercise, tough on the muscles – easy on the joints and all you have to do is slide one ski in front of the other.
Embracing winter this year is important, and I think I found a way to do it! Here’s to a winter of cross training, getting outdoors and learning a new sport!