Thursday, November 29, 2012

Skiing and CrossFit

After my last post, ultra-runner-extraordinaire Laurel commented that improvements in my skiing might be related to increased core strength from all of the CrossFit work I've done this year.  I've been thinking about that for a week or so.  I've even skied twice more since that post and Laurel's comment, which gave me more time to think about it.

Here are some comparisons to a year ago:

  • My weight is up but my body fat percentage is down.
  • My running mileage for the year is way down for the third consecutive year and this is my lowest mileage year since 1984.
  • I ran zero running races this year - the first time since 1984
  • My total workouts for this year are very close to last year, but the focus has been more on CrossFit and less on aerobic activity.  Two thirds of my workout days this year have included CrossFit.
  • My CrossFit workouts for this year have totaled 134.  My total for all of last year was 108, and I'll probably get to 150 or so this year.  
  • I am stronger than a year ago in all lifts.  This is probably due to both the extra work in the gym and the supplemental testosterone
  • I have spent way more time on stretching this past year than I have in many years - maybe since 2002 or so, when I was going to yoga 2-3 times per week.
In a totally non-scientific way, it appears to me that something about CF is the major difference in how I feel on snow.  I must also not forget that I moved to a much higher level "expert's" ski for this season, and that has certainly had an impact.

It is interesting that for many years, I thought that all of my running was preparing me well for ski season.  And now, heading into my 12th season as an instructor, I'm left wondering if that was all wishful thinking.

An article published in the WSJ this week has many of my running friends up in arms, because the article suggested that running a lot may have long-term detrimental effects on the heart.

There seems to be a particular way that interesting new studies are perceived by the net denizens:

1) I agree with the conclusion already.  No need to look any further.  I don't care if the study methodology is flawed because I know the conclusion is correct.
2) I disagree with it, and as an experiment of one who has seen contrary results so far, I can dismiss it.
3) The study was performed by a person with a bias, so it can be ignored.
4) The study was flawed, so I'll dismantle it or wait for someone else to do it.

Now, I don't disagree that there is a lot of poor quality science performed in the world.  And, I have my own biases, and I'm not immune to the four steps above.  What worries me is that we've become a nation of people incapable of critical thinking.  We think too much with our "gut" and not with our brains.

Over the last four years, I have drastically changed how I work out.  I have changed how I eat.  I've also addressed some key medical issues.  And my life is a lot different.  I have the records (workout logs and my blog) to go back in time and look at things.  And yet, I can only guess when it comes to cause and effect.  Those guesses are not immune from my personal biases.  Whatever my workout routine is right now, it must be the best.  Whatever skis I'm on, they must be the best.  Whatever my diet is right now..  Oh, never mind on that one; I'm still trying to get better.

I think we should all question everything.  Question every study.  Question every politician, every law, every policy.  But, we should find a rational way to do this, and I think that this is a lost art/science.

1 comment:

Jeff Farbaniec said...

It doesn't surprise me that Cross Fit is having a positive impact on your skiing. At the risk of over-generalizing, improvements in strength may have more of a beneficial impact on skiing than improvements in cardiovascular fitness.

That said, just like running, there are many factors that may influence your skiing (some of which you mentioned in the post), so it may be hard to determine the impact of one particular factor or another.

Sounds like you're set for a great ski season. Now just THINK SNOW!