Just finished a stellar week with friends from the U.S. and Germany in the town of Verbier (in southwestern Switzerland). While I knew going into this week of holiday that I’d have a wonderful time, I was a bit concerned about creating the right balance between socializing, downhill skiing, après-skiing, and training for my desert fun-in-the-sun that is rapidly growing closer. Coach Lisa put together a plan for me that stressed key workouts that I needed to accomplish without worrying about specific training for each day. I packed a wide mix of gear for the trip: skate skis, touring skis, snowboard, ice climbing equipment, trail running shoes with ice spikes, and of course the Duck. This was my first trip to Verbier (to the French-speaking part of Switzerland for that matter), so while I did expect an interesting journey back to the dusty corners of my brain to search for the French I learned in 8th grade, I had no idea what to expect for terrain or conditions. I decided to front-load my training for the week and tackled a 2-hour hill run the day after we arrived. The plan was to seek out rolling hills, but Verbier sits on the side of a mountain, so it was either straight up OR straight down – all at an altitude that shortens the breath a bit. This run and a snow run on the following day went great, although the Duck made it’ presence known on the long ascents.After learning that skate skiing would have to be removed from the menu this week (unsuitable terrain up high and lack of snow down low), I decided to trade in a hilly run for some randonee skiing (earn your turns).
This is all about having fun though, so after the climb, here’s a twist on making the descent a blast …
Notice the snow spraying from my feet toward the end of the clip. This is me putting the brakes on franticly as I approached a slope so steep that I wondered why in the world I was setting off on a 10K long descent on a little wooden sled! 45-minutes later though and I arrived in one piece at the bottom of a twisty, icy, bumpy sled run that’s so dangerous it would be outlawed in the U.S. and so fun that tears from hysterical laughter were frozen to my face along with a constant ice spray from my boots digging into the snow for traction.
I polished off the week with a great snow run, another ski tour (this time with the descent on skis though!), more sledding, and my first ever curling match. This week was another reminder that it’s possible to train for a big event and still have lots of fun and many laughs along the way. And yes, that’s a regulation curler’s mustache.
Jeff Grant is the author of Flow State Runner: Activate a Powerful Inner Coach’s Voice, Hill Running: Survive & Thrive, Run Faster: Unlock Your Speed in 8 Weeks, Running Heavy, and UltraRunning: Coach’s Handbook. Based in Switzerland, Jeff is a coach and writer who specializes in mental coaching, peak performance, and transformation. Jeff’s popular newsletter is a digest containing inspirational and instructional resources, including his latest content. See recent issues and subscribe for free here. Refer to Jeff’s bio for more information, and please check out Jeff’s Coach & Author page on Facebook.