Last week my coach put me through one brutal leg day, on the very day I forgot my bike chain in the morning and had to cycle back home and then again to university for a total of 11.5km. On the very day I knew my legs were sore even before stepping into the gym. I knew it was going to be brutal, but while I was stretching before squatting, I seriously feared the session. There is was no way I could have completed a heavy 5×5 plus all the rest.
I asked one of the free instructors if we could stand behind me in case I could not lift the barbell alone. I stepped under the bar and focused just on one session. Somehow my mind got back to the time I was a ski racer.
Back to the hill of the small mountain town I grew up in. Back to those afternoon trainings right after school. When the snow was already watery & “heavy,” making every turn more difficult, every error meant losing a lot of speed and having to work even harder. I remember the old lift, not a chairlift. How our legs felt at the end of the ride, knowing that it had been everything but recovery, and knowing that the time to work was right about to start.
I zoned. I rarely do when squatting. I was in my world. Focused on doing my own thing. Set after set. My legs were strong. My mind was strong. Nor for a single second had the though “what if I can’t do it” crossed my mind. I could do it.
Sometimes ski racing seems like a lifetime ago for me. For sure the fact I haven’t skied for two years doesn’t help. But when I need it, deep down in my heart, I know my legs can take much more. Even at the sorest point, all those days racing down the hills taught me there is more inside me.
For a few years, after leaving ski racing, I stopped considering myself a skier. There was a bitter resentment, the acknowledgment I was not good enough to make it. Not that I ever had this belief. But giving up that part of my life to take on more responsibilities — mainly school (& I am proud of the choice, as I ended up in the 8th masters in the world) — meant it was over. Yet, I’ll always be a ski racer. Even if just for a small, provincial ski team. I’ll always remember what ski racing taught me.
Willingness to get back on your feet even after the hardest of the falls.
I may have given up ski racing. I may even not touch a pair of skis for years. But once a ski racer, always a ski racer.